The Indianapolis Tennis Championships traces its roots back to a local tennis haven in 1920 when the Woodstock Country Club held the Western Open Championships for the first time. During the early years of the tournament, the best local players, and many nationally ranked players came to Indianapolis to vie for the Western Open Championships title. When the Open Era of tennis was created in 1969 and tennis started to become more popular with players ranking among other professional athletes, Woodstock became home to the nationally recognized U.S. Open Clay Court Championships.
By 1974, the sport of tennis was attracting large crowds and a larger Indianapolis venue was necessary to continue hosting the tournament. The event made a temporary move to the Indianapolis Racquet Club (IRC), which at the time was the second largest indoor facility in the country. Since they had just completed construction on eight outdoor clay courts, the IRC was an attractive site to carry-on the tradition of the Clay Court Championships. The move also continued to attract to biggest stars in tennis. The honor roll of past clay court participant’s reads like a tennis hall of fame list. Players like Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl Andres Gomez, Jose-Luis Clerc and others came each year to compete on the green-clay in Indianapolis.
Over the next five years tournament organizers recognized the need for an even larger tennis facility than what the IRC could offer – they needed a venue that would solidify the city’s claim as the “Amateur Sports Capital of the World.” The dream of bringing Indianapolis to the forefront of tennis throughout the world became a reality in 1979 when the Indianapolis Sports Center (ISC) – now, known as the Indianapolis Tennis Center and current site of the RCA Championships was constructed. The 13-acre clay court tennis complex was considered state-of-the-art and one of the finest 9,000-seat stadium on the tennis circuit.
The Indianapolis Sports Center hosted the U.S. Open Clay Court Championships until 1987 when it decided that the Sports Center should become a self-supporting, year-round tennis facility. Thus, 14 of the 18 clay courts were resurfaced with Deco-Turf II, the same surface as the U.S. Open. With the change in surface came a change in the tournament’s name and date. The tournament became known as the U.S. Men’s Hardcourt Championships and the event gained the attention of the world’s best player’s as a premier warm-up stop for the U.S. Open. Tennis stars like Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic, Carlos Moya, Patrick Rafter, Gustavo Kuerten, Andy Roddick and many others have flocked to Indianapolis over the years to tune-up their game before competing at the world renowned U.S. Open.
The tournament morphed through yet another growth stage in 1992 when Indianapolis based Thomson Consumer Electronics became the new title sponsor through its RCA brand. Thomson/RCA supported the Indianapolis Tennis Championships through 2006. RCA was the longest running title sponsor of a men’s professional tennis tournament in North America. Mike O’Hara executive vice president of Consumer Products Marketing and Sales Worldwide for Thomson said, “Our 12 year partnership not only provided us with the opportunity to showcase our brand and technology to millions of fans worldwide, but it also helped us raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the children and families benefiting from Riley Hospital for Children and many other Indiana charities.”
In 2007, the tournament changed its name once again. RCA ended its run as the title sponsor and the tournament became known as the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. The name changed, but the tournament stayed the same.
After 36 years of association with the event Eli Lilly and Co. raised their sponsorship to a presenting level for the 2008 and 2009 tournament. The tournament is now officially, known as the Indianapolis Tennis Championships presented by Lilly. Sidney Taurel, Lilly’s chairman and chief executive officer said, “As a company that is focused on helping people live longer, healthier lives, we know that exercise is a keycomponent of success. This partnership is another step forward in helping our community get healthier.”
In addition to attracting the world’s best tennis players, the Indianapolis Tennis Championships holds the honored distinction of being named “Tournament of the Year” by the players on the ATP tour a record 11 times – 10 of those years being consecutive from 1988-1997 and the last honor coming in 2001. Through the support of hundreds of volunteers and with corporate sponsors like RCA and Lilly, the Indianapolis Tennis Championships has consistently staged world-class tennis for the past 17 years. The tournament’s organizers, its volunteer base and the thousands of fans who continue to come back year after year, have always maintained a “players-first” attitude that has helped ensure a high standard of excellence and a long life for professional tennis in Indianapolis.
Total Prize Money
The Olympus US Open Series—the six-week tennis season that link 10 summer tournaments to the US Open—hit the road this July, featuring the world’s top men’s and women’s players and $30 million on the line. And as the summer heats up, so will the action for Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and the other 200 players who are slated to battle it out in what has become known as “The Greatest Road Trip in Sports.”
Now in its fourth season, the US Open Series is fueled by the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge, which links the players’ performances throughout the summer to the US Open. Bonus points are awarded at each US Open Series event, with the top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the final standings eligible to earn bonus prize money at the US Open. Players who win the US Open Series can earn $1 million in bonus prize money at the US Open.
Last year, Roddick prevailed for the second straight year as the US Open Series men’s champ—and then reached the US Open men’s singles final to take home an additional $500,000 in bonus prize money. Ana Ivanovic was the US Open Series women’s champ, yet the big winner on the women’s side was Sharapova, who finished second in the US Open Series and earned $500,000 in bonus prize money by winning the US Open women’s singles title.
Bonus prize money is just one of several major innovations introduced by the US Open Series. Another has been the use of instant replay and a player challenge system for line calls, with the official review provided simultaneously to the players, chair umpire and fans. The US Open Series has also debuted “US Open Blue” courts to heighten visibility of the ball and to create a signature look and identifiable link between the US Open Series and the US Open.
In addition, the US Open Series has introduced numerous television enhancements, including appointment television with back-to-back men’s and women’s Sunday afternoon finals; “Tennis GameDay” desks at select tournaments; and coverage on ESPN Deportes. The US Open Series has also been offering more national live television coverage than any other summer sport, providing one-stop shopping for fans searching for tennis on television.
“Sports in America is about telling a season-long story with a big finale,” says Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “And tennis now has that platform. Our goal was to elevate the sport of tennis and make it easier for fans to connect with the game.”
To assist the US Open Series with that effort, a nationwide advertising and marketing campaign— themed “The Greatest Road Trip in Sports” and prominently featuring international and U.S. players—has helped generate increased visibility and exposure for the players and the sport. Meanwhile, the US Open Series continues to enjoy record results. Last year, attendance at US Open Series events rose to nearly 1 million fans, while television viewership doubled from pre–US Open Series numbers to reach 42 million viewers.
“As a tennis fan growing up, it was always challenging finding tennis on TV,” says Roddick. “The US Open Series, for the first time, provides fans with an easy way to follow the sport all summer. It’s a great way to develop a new generation of fans—and players.” Indeed, for players and fans alike, the US Open Series is a winning formula that adds sizzle to an already hot summer season.
US Open Series at a Glance
The US Open Series creates an easy-to-follow summer tennis season on television by linking 10 North American tournaments to the US Open. Live national coverage makes it possible for fans to watch great tennis on television every weekend throughout the summer. Back-to-back men’s and women’s finals are broadcast every Sunday.
Performance in the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge has a direct effect on US Open prize money.Players who win the US Open Series will have the opportunity to win $1 million in bonus prize money at the US Open. The top three men’s and women’s finishers all will earn bonus prize money at the US Open. US Open Series Lever 2000 ChallengeBonus points are awarded at each of the 10 US Open Series tournaments. Standings are updated every week.
Final standings will include players who have earned points in at least two US Open Series events.
The next generation of American tennis stars Sam Querrey, John Isner & Donald Young have committed to play in the 2008 Indianapolis Tennis Championships Presented by Lilly. They join previously announced James Blake, Robby Ginepri and Andy Murray.
“We are excited to have these three young Americans playing in Indianapolis this summer, “ said Kevin Martin, Indianapolis Tennis Championships Presented by Lilly Tournament Director. “The Indianapolis Tennis Championships has had a history of showcasing the next generation of American tennis talent. Hall of Famers Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, and Andre Agassi all displayed their talents in their early years in Indianapolis. With the addition of Querrey, Isner and Young our fans will once again get a chance to watch the next generation of American tennis stars at an early stage in their career.”
The 20 year-old Sam Querrey from Thousand Oaks, CA, is having the best season in just his third year on tour. Currently No. 40 in the ATP Rankings, he won his first career ATP title at Las Vegas (d. Kevin Anderson), reached semifinals at Delray Beach and second career ATP Masters Series quarterfinal at Monte Carlo (l. Novak Djovick). Despite losing in the first round at the French Open (l. Federer) Sam has an 18-12 singles record in 2008. In his first full year on tour in 2007 he finished in the Top 75 and won 19 ATP level matches, highlighted by his first ATP semifinal in Indianapolis and first career AMS quarterfinal at Cincinnati. He advanced to the semifinals at Indianapolis with wins over Julian Benneteau, Ivo Karlovic and No. 10 James Blake for his first Top 10 victory before losing to eventual champion Dmitry Tursunov. In his win over Blake, Querrey fired a career-high 36 aces, including a record 10 in a row.
The towering 23 year-old John Isner, 6’9”, turned pro in June 2007 after graduating from the University of Georgia. While at Georgia he was a four-time All-American. In May 2007, he reached the NCAA singles final (l. Virginia’s Somdev Dev Varman) and led his squad to NCAA team title. After turning pro, Isner made a huge splash as a wild card entry in his Washington tour debut. He posted a record five straight wins in a third set tie-breaker before losing to No. 5 Andy Roddick 4-6, 6-7(4) in the final. His wins were over former Top 10 Tim Henman, Benjamin Becker, Wayne Odesnik, No. 12 Tommy Haas and Gael Monfils. Isner also fired a non-Grand Slam tournament record of 144 aces during a week (since 1991.) He finished 2007 at No. 107. In 2008 he is currently ranked No. 82 with his best result realized at the San Jose quarterfinals with wins over Florent Serra and Tommy Haas before falling to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 6-7(11).
The youngest player to finish in the Top 100 (at 18 years, 5 months) in 2007, Georgia resident Donald Young made one of the biggest ranking jumps on the ATP in 2007, climbing 386 positions from No. 484 in the previous season to No. 98. Young captured his first ATP match win by defeating Amer Delic in New Haven and made his third appearance at the US Open and reached the 3rd RD with a win over Chris Guccione, a walkover vs. Richard Gasquet (illness) before losing to Feliciano Lopez in four sets. In 2005, he became the youngest year-end World No. 1 in ITF Junior Rankings at 16 years, 5 months. Young won the Australian Open junior title at age 15 to become youngest-ever and first male African-American to be ranked No. 1 in the world. Young is also the first American to win the Australian junior title and finish No. 1 since Andy Roddick 2000. Young, who is currently ranked No. 83, reached his first career ATP quarterfinal at Memphis with wins over Sam Warburg and Alejandor Falla before falling to Jonas Bjorkman in three sets. He also reached the third round at AMS Indian Wells with wins over Bobby Reynolds and Feliciano Lopez before falling to No. 2 Rafael Nadal.