Beginning Friday, tennis' reopening will take a big step forward when four players ranked inside the Top 60 on the ATP tour launch the UTR Pro Match Series presented by Tennis Channel, a two-day round-robin tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla. For the four competitors, it's an opportunity to test their level and entertain an audience hungry to have sport front and center again.
"It’s right in my back yard, which is great. It’s something that doesn’t happen often, so that’s one positive," two-time ATP titlist Reilly Opelka said Wednesday during a Zoom press conference. "Also from a spectator standpoint, to give people some live tennis, live sport, that’s the most important part I think."
Said Miomir Kecmanovic, "It’s definitely going to be fun to get back and play some matches, especially since the last months have been pretty boring practicing every day."
Find out everything you need to know about the first edition of Universal Tennis' event, which the organization expects to be a regular fixture on the calendar in the months to come.
What is it?
UTR Pro Match Series events are prize-money competitions that count toward a player’s Universal Tennis Rating (UTR). The first of two announced tournaments begins on Friday, May 8. The goal of the series is to showcase how tennis can be played locally—and most importantly, safely—as the world looks to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where is it being played?
The event will debut at a private club in West Palm Beach, Fla. There will be no public access.
Who is competing?
Four ATP players—Hubert Hurkacz, Miomir Kecmanovic, Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul—will compete in the inaugural edition from May 8-9. Originally scheduled to run over three days, Sunday's forecast of inclement weather has condensed the event to two.
Two weeks later, four WTA competitors, Amanda Anisimova, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske and Ajla Tomljanovic, will battle it out from May 22-24.
How can I watch?
Every match will air live on Tennis Channel, bringing world-class athletes to a national broadcast in the U.S. for the first time since the country implemented strict social distancing and isolation measures. Coverage begins live at 12 p.m. ET and runs four hours each day, and it will also be available on-demand through TennisChannel.com, TENNIS.com and the Tennis Channel App. Brett Haber and Prakash Amritraj will call the event from Los Angeles, and Andy Roddick will join via Skype to provide color commentary on Friday, May 8. Players will wear headsets during changeovers to chat with TC talent.
What is the playing format?
Four players will compete over two days. Every competitor will first play each other in a first to four games, best-of-three set format. No-Ad scoring is in play, with a tiebreaker played out at 3-3.
On the second day, a third-place match, followed by the championship match, will be played over best of three sets. A 10-point tiebreaker will decide any third sets contested.
What precautions are being taken, and what else is unique about the event?
The court and facility will be disinfected before and after play, following USTA health and safety guidelines. Outside of a chair umpire overseeing the matches, there will be no spectators, ballkids or line judges. Each player will be provided with their own set of marked balls for use during the match and is responsible for bringing their own drinks and towels. Players will not shake ends after a match has ended and will have their own separate area off the court.