U.S. tennis mourns as San Jose Open bids farewell

Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:48am EST
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By Matt Cronin

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) - The U.S. tennis community mourned the loss of another ATP tournament on Sunday when the San Jose Open packed up and headed to Brazil after 125 years in California.

The event was first played in 1889 and has included champions such as Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick before Canada's Milos Raonic completed a hat-trick of wins on Sunday.

Former player and broadcaster Justin Gimelstob, who is also an ATP board of directors member, told Reuters he was sad to bid farewell to the second oldest tournament in the United States behind the U.S. Open.

"It's been one of the landmarks of the tour," he said. "There are so many great champions who have won here. This negative trend is very disappointing."

Tournament owners San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises, who are also in charge of the San Jose Sharks, opted to sell the event to a Rio de Janeiro group for both financial reasons and to prevent having to send their NHL team on an annual two-week road trip.

When the United States was dominating men's tennis and former major champions such as Sampras and Agassi were happy to play at one of their national tournaments, spectator attendances were good.

However, after Agassi retired in 2006 and Europeans began to dominate the tour, the event was unable to draw the very best players to the West Coast in early February when they knew they would have to travel to California for the mandatory Indian Wells tournament in March.

As well as the San Jose Open, California lost another of its events last year when the Los Angeles Open was sold and relocated to Bogota, Colombia.   Continued...