Live Pro Tennis Coming to a TV Near You

As mentioned last week here, live tennis is coming to the Tennis Channel beginning today with an event in Germany (read more here).

However, Germany isn’t the only country with tennis on its schedule. Universal Tennis will be hosting pro events beginning May 8 in South Florida . . . with no audience on site, of course. Given that two of the players participating are not from the US, I have reached out to UTR to inquire if Matteo Berrettini and Ajla Tomljanović have been sheltering in the States during the COVID-19 pandemic. “All players have been in the Florida area since the pandemic hit; and Tennys lives in Nashville so he’s making the drive down. The idea behind this was that since there are so many restrictions on travel, we wanted to showcase how UTR can make your local play count globally,” responded UTR’s Communications Director, Erica Annon.

Read more about the upcoming events in the UTR press release below:

Universal Tennis (MyUTR.com) today announced the UTR Pro Match Series presented by Tennis Channel featuring top ATP and WTA players in tournament play. The UTR Pro Match Series presented by Tennis Channel will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel and will be the first top tier professional tennis events televised internationally since the global health crisis put a halt to tennis in March. 

The UTR Pro Match Series showcases a vision for how tennis can be played locally and safely through one-on-one matchplay and counts towards a single global rating and ranking with UTR. 

The first event of the series will be held May 8-10 with a four-player men’s round-robin event beginning at 12:00 noon ET each day with 3 hours of live coverage. The line up of competitors is as follows: 

  • Matteo Berrettini  – 2019 US Open Semifinalist, ATP #8, UTR 15.71 (#12)
  • Reilly Opelka  – 3rd ranked American, ATP #39, UTR 15.51 (#25)  
  • Tennys Sandgren – 5th ranked American, ATP #55, UTR 15.32 (#53)
  • Tommy Paul – 6th ranked American, ATP #57, UTR 15.31 (#58)

A top-tier professional four-player women’s event follows May 22 – 24. The line up of competitors is as follows: 

  • Alison Riske – 4th -ranked American, WTA #19, UTR 13.19 (#14)
  • Amanda Anisimova – 5th ranked American, WTA #28, UTR 13.04 (#33)
  • Danielle Collins – 8th ranked American, WTA #51, UTR 13.07 (#28)
  • Ajla Tomljanović – 2nd ranked Australian, WTA #56, UTR 12.85 (#68)

All matches will be held at a private court in the West Palm Beach, FL, area with no spectators or public access. 

“We are excited to bring back the game to tennis fans and give players the opportunity to compete in a safe, competitive environment,” said Mark Leschly, Universal Tennis Chairman & CEO. “The world has changed and we must adapt and innovate. Local, individual and small group play will be the new normal for the foreseeable future. The UTR Pro Match Series showcases how tennis can be played locally, safely and have results count toward the UTR global rating.”

These are the first two events in what will be a continuing US and international series.  UTR is partnering with others around the world to deliver UTR Pro Match Series events for players according to local guidelines as restrictions are lifted. 

UTR Pro Match Series events are prize money competitions, not exhibitions, and have been reviewed by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) to ensure strict compliance. Results from all Pro Match Series events will be included in a player’s Universal Tennis Rating (UTR), the most accurate international tennis rating system that provides real-time head-to-head rating comparisons based on performance.

UTR Pro Match Series events will follow enhanced safety precautions, going above and beyond the USTA health and safety guidelines, and implement strict screening, cleaning and social distancing measures for players, officials and staff. There will be no spectators, no handshaking, no ballkids and no line judges. One chair umpire will oversee the match, and the court and facility will be professionally disinfected before and after play. Each player will be provided with their own set of marked balls for use during the match. Players will provide their own drinks and towels, and each player will have their own separate area off the court. 

“We’re excited to work with our longtime partners UTR to bring professional tennis and high-quality live sports coverage back to millions of tennis fans in the United States and Europe during this uniquely challenging moment,” said Ken Solomon, president, Tennis Channel.

Tennis Channel, partnering with Ross Mobile Productions, will show all matches live. Emmy Award-winning announcer Brett Haber will call play by play for Tennis Channel from the network’s Los Angeles studio during the event. He will be alongside former NCAA champion and professional tour player Prakash Amritraj. During coverage Friday, May, 8, former world No 1. And US Open champion Andy Roddick will also offer commentary via Skype. The four players competing in the tournament will have headsets and be able to interact with Tennis Channel’s studio during changeovers.

“Play Locally. Count Globally.” Initiative

As the world begins to reopen from the pandemic, Universal Tennis is launching a new “Play Locally. Count Globally.” initiative to help every player easily create local, one-on-one matchplay and make it count for UTR or Verified UTR via its new UTR MatchPlay tool. With UTR MatchPlay, all juniors and adult players can compete locally and have their scores count globally. All players who have played USTA, TA, ITF and college events have a UTR and can discover and claim it for free at MyUTR.com. Any person can register for free, begin to post their match scores, and be rated on the global UTR system.

“The UTR Platform gives players the ability to organize competitive head-to-head match play at home and post their scores to count on a global scale. When these local match results count towards players’ UTR, local competition will have national and global significance,” said Stephen Amritraj, Universal Tennis Chief Tennis Officer.

Players can go to MyUTR.com to learn more and register local, 1:1 UTR Matchplay.  Universal Tennis has implemented rules for self-registering, self-posting and monitoring of Verified UTR scores including strict measures for any players violating the rules.  Players of all levels can sign up for free to get their UTR, connect with players around the world, and get more details on UTR Pro Match Series at www.MyUTR.com

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