U.S. Tennis defends roofless courts after Open washout

Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:29pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Tennis Association defended their decision to carry on staging the U.S. Open without the benefit of a covered court even as rain on Sunday postponed the men's final for the third year in a row.

The rain forced world number one Rafa Nadal, seeking to become the seventh man to complete a career grand slam, and Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic to wait until Monday to contest the last grand slam final of the year.

Both the Australian Open and Wimbledon championships have retractable roofs to deal with dodgy weather and French Open officials have discussed the possibility.

"It's technically complex and financially challenging," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told Reuters. "At a cost of more than $150 million, do you spend that on a roof or continue to fund grassroots tennis programs in this country?"

Widmaier said $100 million had been spent on improvements at the Flushing Meadows complex in the last five years, with the biggest expense being a new indoor training center.

He also said money from the U.S. Open was funneled into player development, grants and scholarships and to improving tennis facilities around the country, which included providing help to resurface 1,100 courts across the United States.

Widmaier said USTA president Lucy Garvin is heading a committee that will be make recommendations to the tennis association on future improvements to the National Tennis Center complex and some options being looked at included covering smaller courts at less expense.

The tournament's second court, Louis Armstrong Stadium, seats 10,500 compared to 23,771 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.   Continued...

<p>Fans sit in the rain in Arthur Ashe Stadium during a rain delay at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>