Professional tennis is still a huge thing in New Haven

By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter

NEW YORK — The U.S. Open may still be going on in New York, but there is also a Challenger event in New Haven, Connecticut played at the Yale tennis facility.

Some of the players who lost early at Flushing Meadows have made the relatively short trek to New Haven to compete in a men’s and women’s event.

Prize money is each field is $162,000 and is being funded by Oracle and its President Larry Ellison, a billionaire. Ellison has been committed to American tennis at both the collegiate and professional level for years.

There is no admission cost for spectators and parking is $10. Plenty of food booth adorn the grounds.     

New Haven had boasted a tennis event since 1990, when the Volvo International moved to New Haven and boasted winners such as Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi.

The event then became the Pilot Pen and was followed by a women’s only event, the Connecticut Open. Former WTA head Anne Worcester was the Tournament Chair of the Pilot Pen and the Connecticut Open.

It was difficult to convince the top players in the world to compete in an event the week before the US Open, due to a concern on the part of players of getting injured, but she continually brought in Top 10 player, largely due to the force of her personality.

The event ended last August, as a result of the inability to locate a title sponsor.

But Worcester worked her magic and convinced the Oracle series to hold an event in New Haven, which culminates in a senior event highlighted by Fairfield’s own James Blake and former US Open winner Andy Roddick. 

The field is a strong one with player like Andreas Seppi, Denis Kudla,Donald Young,Jessica Pegula and former Connecticut Open winner, Daria Gavrilova.

Kudla lost to defending champion Novak Djokovic in the 3rd round of the US Open and will be playing in New Haven on Wednesday.     

The 2 top American male and female players with the highest accumulated points will receive wild cards into the March, 2020 Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Other stops on the Tour are Chicago, Houston and New port Beach.

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