Sam Querrey does not see himself as the white knight riding to the rescue. But the professional player can understand why the Las Vegas tennis community views him that way after he and his family stepped in to partner with the City of Las Vegas to run Darling Tennis Center.
With the Summerlin facility losing money and the city facing a budget deficit of approximately $47 million, the center, which is home to youth and adult leagues, tournaments, clinics and individual play, could have been a cost-cutting casualty. But Querrey, ranked No. 21 in the world, and his family won a bid to run the center in partnership with the city.
"It's an awesome place," Querrey said of the facility, where he won his first professional tournament in 2008 when he captured the Tennis Channel Open. "I think there's so much potential here, and I learned to play tennis as a kid (in Las Vegas), so I wanted to help."
Querrey said he will try to use his name to bring special tennis events to the center and would play a couple of exhibitions a year. A one-day event featuring Querrey against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Roddick could prove more lucrative than bringing back an ATP or WTA Tour tournament where the overhead alone can run into the millions.
"If their schedules allowed them to come (to Las Vegas), sure, that would be great," Querrey said of the game's biggest names. "I certainly will approach them about it."
Querrey's mother, Chris, came up with the idea in May to look into privatizing the facility after her close friend, Sandy Foley, was the victim of a round of budget cuts and lost her job running the center. The Querrey family, which teamed with Foley and her husband, Jeff, to form CJMS Tennis Management Company, was one of three bidding parties, and their bid was selected Thursday.
"It's a big commitment," Chris Querrey said of the endeavor, which will cost approximately $1 million to operate and will have Sandy Foley returning to her position as facility director. "I'm so invested in the game. I have so much passion for this. We believe we can run it leaner and more efficiently and maintain the first-class quality of the Darling Tennis Center."
City Councilman Stavros Anthony, in whose Ward 4 the center is located, said the city will save $200,000 annually while still maintaining ownership.
"It was becoming a fiscal issue," Anthony said. "This partnership makes so much sense. It relieves the city of a financial burden while allowing the community to continue to enjoy a first-class facility."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.