Professional Tennis Returns to Iowa
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) will bring its Pro Circuit, a collection of ITF World Tennis Tour, to the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex (HTRC) on Monday July 15th, 2019. The Old Capitol Tennis Championships, a men’s professional tournament, will return for a second consecutive year in Iowa City, IA.
“Hosting a professional tournament at the University of Iowa is a huge step in becoming a ‘Top 25’ program and competing for a Big Ten Championship,” says University of Iowa Men’s Head Coach Ross Wilson. “There are less than ten programs in the country that have an on-campus pro event so this allows us to recruit the top players in the world. Additionally, it allows our team members to start accumulating ATP points before they dive fully into their professional career. ATP No. 985 Kareem Allaf advanced to the quarter-finals last year which earned him entry into other pro events since then. His success in this tournament proved to be an excellent start to the fall semester as he went on to win the ITA Central Region Singles Title just a few weeks later.”
The field will feature approximately 70 professional players competing in both singles and doubles events for $25,000 in total prize money. Players ranked as high as No. 300 in the world compete in the ITF World Tennis Tour events. Several current and former University of Iowa Hawkeye Men’s players are expected to compete.
“It is exciting to welcome world-class athletes from around the globe to the Corridor for Iowa’s only professional tennis tournament,” Tournament Director Alex Voss states. “Year 1 (2018) was planned and executed on a short timeline so there was a limited ability to create awareness for the tournament. After demonstrating what a great host Iowa City is for pro tennis last year, this year our goal is to showcase pro tennis and create excitement among the community for the sport. We want all of Iowa to experience the power and excitement of tennis at its highest form and see the future of tennis!”
The Iowa City tournament kicks off the USTA Pro Circuit summer swing in the Midwest where players travel to similar ITF World Tennis tournaments in Champaign-Urbana, IL, Decatur, IL, and Edwardsville, IL. Players participating in this stretch of tournaments hope to improve their world ranking and move up to the next level of professional tournaments: Challengers. From the Challenger Circuit, players move to the ATP Tour and have the eventual goal of competing in tennis’s major tournaments such as Wimbledon and the US Open.
When asked about his motives for supporting Hawkeye Tennis events, Kirk Mellecker said, “In our quest to transform the University of Iowa into an elite tennis destination we felt that bringing an USTA Pro Circuit event to Iowa City was critical to our overall goal of moving the Hawkeyes to top 25 status. I want to thank the USTA, Ross Wilson our men’s head coach along with Alex Voss our tournament director for their hard work and foresight in bringing all this together.”
The University of Iowa’s Sport and Recreation Program boasts a team of 20 students who are developing and executing tournament operations. The tournament is exposing these students to experiential learning opportunities and exposing professional tennis to Iowa City and the surrounding area. Iowa City and the University of Iowa are excited to bring a tournament of this magnitude to the city and to showcase the epicenter of Hawkeye Pride.
Along with being the tournament director, Voss is also a lecturer at the University of Iowa in the Sport and Recreation Management program. When asked how this tournament is a great field experience for students, Voss states, “In addition to showcasing pro tennis, the Old Capitol Tennis Championships is a learning laboratory for University of Iowa students who aspire to work in the sport and recreation industries. Students gain hands-on experience in marketing, event management, community outreach, and media relations that prepares them for their career after college. After seven UI students made the inaugural tournament a success, over forty students have and are contributing to the 2019 event. The creativity and effort of the UI Sport and Recreation Management students will help make the Old Capitol Tennis Championships the gold standard in World Tennis Tour tournaments.”
Elise Van Heuvelen Treadwell, now a senior on the Iowa Women’s Tennis team is one of the students working with Voss and the tournament team. “Preparation for the Old Capitol Tournament has been going really well, and has been an interesting experience for me. Having been a player at events like these on the women’s side, it’s extremely intriguing to learn what it’s like from a different perspective. The amount of time and effort that goes into the smooth running of a tournament is far beyond what I had expected. It has been thoroughly enjoyable to know the processes that go on behind the scenes and what goes into making it a quality experience, not only for the players but the fans and officials too.”
Follow all the action on social media!
Facebook: Old Capitol Tennis Championships