Pro tennis returns to Dallas with ATP Dallas Open
DALLAS - Pro tennis is back in Dallas with the ATP Dallas Open, which got underway Sunday at SMU.
The event runs all week and Dallas resident and tennis star John Isner hopes the event is the start of a new tennis tradition.
The competition is the first professional tennis event in Dallas since 1989 and crowds were strong for the first day on Sunday, which was qualifying matches for the week-long tournament.
"You can hear the buzz when we're standing here, you know, that's music to my ears. This is sort of, honestly, this is a Sunday finals buzz," said Peter Lebedevs, tournament director.
"To have, I heard, 1,300, 1,400 people come out for a qualifying first round match at 11 a.m. at a tournament like this is pretty spectacular," Isner said.
The setup is all inside SMU’s Styslinger / Altec Tennis Complex. A series of small grandstands were built inside for fans to watch the main court action take place. Officials and fans say the intimate setup ensures there’s not a bad seat – even from the back row of the baseline.
All that separates fans from the pros on the practice courts is some netting, a rare chance to see and feel what it's like to have a triple digit serve come blistering your way.
"You can stand behind the player here in the hospitality village AND really see what a 130 MPH serve looks like coming at you," Lebedevs said.
Fans won't see Nadal, Djokovic or Federer on the Hilltop this week. But the field of talent is plenty compelling. Eighteen Top 100 players are in the tournament, including nine Americans -- a group of men who carry the best hope for the United States in the coming years to end a grand slam title drought, which dates back to Andy Roddick winning the US Open in 2003.
"But I think you're going to see some U.S. guys really tearing it up in the next 12 months and you can say ‘I saw Taylor here when he won his first event’ or ‘I saw Jensen here when he won his first event,’" Lebedevs said.
"It's really cool to see young kids be sort of mesmerized by professional tennis players because I was definitely in their shoes when I was their age. It's a super surreal thing you never imagine yourself self being a position where you can make an impression like that, just by walking by, but that's the case here in Dallas. I mean, this this town, just everyone plays tennis here," Isner said.
The court being used is the first red court ever used for an ATP Tour Event in the United States. They wanted to use the red and blue colors in honor of SMU.
Matches will take during the day and in the evening throughout the week, with the championship match on during the afternoon before Super Bowl LVI.