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Ladies WTA Tennis Update • Stanford, California Event In Doubt 2018

Pink roses and tennis balls are arranged at a tennis themed shop window in Wimbledon, London, Britain, 09 July 2017. London is currently hosting the 140th edition of the Wimbledon Championships, the world’s oldest tennis tournament running from 03 to 16 July. EPA/NIC BOTHMA



WTA Stanford tournament in danger of leaving Bay Area after 40 plus years in Northern California


By: Thomas Cluck


The great exodus of pro tennis from California appears to be continuing, with the Bank of the West Classic’s future in the Bay Area now under major threat. A new policy by Stanford University, the hosts of the Bay Area tennis tournament for around 20 years, bans any commercial sporting events from being held on the campus, meaning the WTA Premier tournament is searching for a new home.


Reports of financial struggles for the tournament began to surface earlier this year when the university tripled the rent tournament owners IMG were paying. IMG eventually agreed to pay the increased rent, but more troubles arose when title sponsor Bank of the West, owned by BNP Paribas, wanted to redirect all sponsorship funds from the Stanford tournament into California’s only other pro event, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.


Despite financial issues over the tournament’s rent and title sponsorship, the event was still set to be held on the university campus with Bank of the West ultimately agreeing to stay on as title sponsor.


A new contract from IMG was set to be signed for the 2018 edition of the tournament but a university decision barring commercial events to be held on campus prevented university officials from signing the deal.


Now, the Northern California classic event is searching for a new home in 2018, with no guarantees the IMG-owned tournament will stay in California ahead of the US Open. In the last ten years alone, California has lost pro events in Los Angeles, Carson, Carlsbad, and San Jose all due to various financial problems.


California girl and two-time Stanford finalist Coco Vandeweghe voiced her displeasure at the loss of the Bay Area tournament, a staple of tennis in California over the last 40 years. Vandeweghe tweeted, “This is terrible @BOTWClassic is one of my all time favorites. As well as the longest running women’s only event. @WTA @usta how can we allow ourselves to lose another tournament. Come on guys.”


Another California resident and an NCAA champion playing for Stanford Nicole Gibbs, one of the most consistently outspoken players on tour, tweeted in reply to Vandeweghes’s tweet, “Not to mention one of the best attended. Sounds like @Stanford hasn’t been great to work with on this either. Disappointing.”


Tournament owners IMG released a statement saying their “highest priority is to keep the event in the Bay Area and we are working on a plan to do so.” Nevertheless given the financial burden of hosting events in California, there is a serious chance California’s pro-tennis tournaments will be down to just Indian Wells come 2018, an end of an era in California’s decades of hosting a plethora of pro tennis.


Editors Note: It’s pretty sad to see tennis shrinking in California. Florida has had a rebirth equal to the mid 70′s. But California has terrible tennis promoters. A tennis tourney director doesn’t mean the event knows how to promote, market, or have reasonable ticket prices. Or my personal favorite. Which is tennis fans get treated like disposal straws. And any tennis tourney that serves food and charges heaps of money. Must. Must. Realise they are in the hospitality industry… The Los Angeles crew never got that concept. Tennis has way too many people working in the sport because it’s a job. Tennis needs the passionate people. The Gene Scotts, The Paul Florys, the good guys! We’ve often called the Los Angeles Group that killed a Hundred Year plus event all “undertakers”. (LJ)

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