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Tue, Jan. 28

Howard: Phoenix tennis tourney becomes premier event for players of all levels
My Point

Twelve years ago Tournament Director Josh Bates created a money tennis tournament held at the Village Racquet and Health Club on Camelback and 44th Street in Phoenix, that has become a premier tennis event for players in the Southwest and beyond for all levels of play.

There are 15-lighted championship tennis courts at the Village facility and from Nov. 20-24, 722 players signed up to play in five open events and 13 NTRP divisions.

Over-all that adds up to approximately 1,123 entries and more matches than you want to consider between main draw and consolation matches.

If you have the unfortunate situation to have two days of solid rain, getting back on schedule can be a bit of a nightmare.

The total prize money to be paid out at the “Mercedes Benz of Scottsdale Tennis Tournament” was right at $32,000, the majority going to the open player events.

For example, the Men’s Open Champion Stetan Kozlov took home $5,000 over runner-up Evan Song’s $2,500 in their killer final 6-7, 6-2, 12-10, both are ATP tour players.

In the Men’s 5.0 doubles, former No. 1 doubles player in the world Richey Reneberg and Arizonan Bert Hayenga defeated young guys Spence Hing and Niles Jackson in a barn-burner 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 with Bert commenting, “It was so fun for me to get to play with these guys!”

The semi-finals players received $1,000 and quarter-finalists $250.00 each.

The divisions that made were: Men’s Open Singles, Women’s Open Singles, Men’s and Women’s Open Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles.

The NTRP doubles divisions that made were: Men’s 5.0, 4.5, 4.0, 3.5. Women’s 4.5, 4.0, 3.5 3.0. Mixed Combined. 10.0, 9.0, 8.0, 7.0, 6.0.

Payouts for NTRP doubles events was $250.00 to the Champions, $125.00 to the Finalists, and $50.00 to the Consolation Winners….EACH.

Where else do 3.0 level players get to play next to Open (ATP/WTA -college level) players? Add to that the player packages of receiving a great tennis bag, long sleeve shirt, can of balls, water, and many other items of use for signing up and the money you spent to enter is almost returned to you in goodies.

But there was even more…..drink tickets, breakfast provided, dinner, and food trucks for lunch. The overflow of matches went to play at the beautiful Phoenician Resort and D.C. Ranch. Heaters were set up to stay warm for evening play with top level players on the stadium court and many other prime courts that had great viewing and bleachers set in place.

It’s easy to see why people flock to this centrally located Phoenix tennis tournament -

The background setting to the courts is Camelback Mountain, the Village Tennis and Health Club has everything not only a tennis player could want and appreciate, everything else a top-notch club could possibly be; a bag of great gifts for participating, prize money and a “who’s who” of tennis players from the tour, colleges, and NTRP leveled players.

Is there room for improvement?

I heard suggestions of: *Monitors in various places to easily see who’s on what court and who is in the line up to go on. Better up-dates to the players on-line when there’s a delay from scheduled match play due to whatever reason.

And just maybe a break of age in the NTRP divisions to get more of the older players involved say...18 to 49 and then 50 and older.

My hat is off to Josh (Bates) for what he’s done to promote tennis in the Southwest, his staff, the Village Tennis and Health Club, the overflow facilities, the camaraderie of the people who played, their friends and family who spectated and certainly the great sponsorship.

Tennis is alive and well!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 50 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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