Two weeks ago was a great week for US tennis and for our city, as well! Nearly 20,000 fans came out from around the Mid-South and around our nation to enjoy world-class tennis at the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster. The 2017 player field boasted 5 men ranked in the Top 35 in the world from 13 different countries and 5 continents. These professional tennis players, along with our city and tournament were on full display not only locally, but on television screens around the USA as The Tennis Channel, which now reaches up to 47 million households, broadcasted some of the matches, as well.
After 41 years, our tennis tournament has an impressive legacy and some unique storylines. We can count 9 ATP year-end No. 1 players among our Memphis Open winners: Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, and Andy Roddick. It’s a tournament where rising stars have a chance to make their mark; and that’s exactly what 24 year-old Ryan Harrison did when he won the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster on Sunday, February 19, 2017, becoming the first American to win the Memphis Title since Roddick back in 2011. The win was the first ATP World Tour title of Harrison’s career; and Harrison was tearful in his speech afterward when thanking his family and team for supporting him along his way, and our city for the opportunity to take the next important step in his budding career.
These sort of firsts and moments make the Memphis Open special! And, speaking of special, you should know that our tournament is one of only 11 ATP World Tour professional tennis tournaments played on US soil (10 tournaments and 1 Major with U.S. Open)! Beyond the tennis, though, there are plenty of other reasons we should be proud. For instance, our event, like our city, has a philanthropic heart. Nearly $54,000 was raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Memphis Open ball kids' fundraising efforts, which were matched with a generous contribution from FedEx. Youth from schools and various nonprofits were given free tickets to expose them to the life-long sport and the tournament even took it a step further by working to provide tennis racquets, portable nets, and other equipment so local schools could offer tennis programs.
So, make plans to attend the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster next year. The dates are set for February 10-18, 2018. Visit MemphisOpen.com and I’ll plan on seeing you out there for more special moments.