Just when it appeared pro tennis had left Las Vegas for good, Mike Copenhaver came to the rescue.
Copenhaver, the head tennis professional at Red Rock Country Club, responded to the United States Tennis Association’s request to host the USTA Women’s Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas. Copenhaver was able to get enough sponsors to sign on and the $50,000 Red Rock Pro Open will be played Sept. 21-28 and will have a 32-player field in singles and a 16-team field in doubles.
“When the USTA contacted us in June, we were a bit skeptical because we weren’t sure we could get everything together in time,” Copenhaver said Tuesday. “But once our members were willing to support it and we contacted some people about sponsoring, everything started to fall into place.
“We want to keep pro tennis alive in Las Vegas. We think we’ll have a strong field and we’re going to work hard to make it a success.”
The event had been at Red Rock Country Club from 2009 to 2011 before moving to the Darling Tennis Center in 2012. Last year’s event, then called the Party Rock Open which was played at the Darling Tennis Center and run by a different promoter, was won by Melanie Oudin. But when the promoters struggled to find corporate sponsors to keep the event on the 2014 calendar, they had to pull out in May.
Enter Copenhaver, who managed to find enough sponsors to get on board and keep the event alive.
“We got a very positive response,” Copenhaver said of the dozen or so sponsors he was able to attract on short notice. “They’re committed to 2015 as well so we know we’re going to be here at least through next year.”
“We look at it as a new tournament. We hope to have several top 100 players competing and since we follow Albuquerque on the schedule, we should have a very strong field.”
Among the top draws could be Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, who is currently ranked No. 80 in the world in singles and was ranked as high as No. 21 a year ago. Oudin, who is currently ranked No. 135, could also find herself back in Las Vegas.
Ticket prices will be just $5 for Tuesday through Friday, $10 for Saturday’s semifinals and $20 for Sunday’s finals. Copenhaver admitted that getting people to come out during the week will be a challenge but he’s hoping for big crowds on the weekend to make up the difference.
“Weekdays are always tough because there’s school and people are working,” he said, adding there will be a Kid’s Day on Sept. 21 during qualifying to kick off the week. “Our members have supported it in the past and there was no problem getting them to support its return,” he said. “It’s good marketing and public relations for the club and we’re glad it’s back.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.