The US Open Series: Open Season

April 7, 2004 04:26 PM

By Rick Rennert

When the US Open Series starts up, tennis fans will be in for a sensational summer

Watching the game’s biggest stars is going to get a whole lot easier with the launch of the US Open Series, a breakthrough for the sport to create a cohesive weekly summer tennis season in the U.S. for men’s and women’s tournaments.

The idea behind the US Open Series is to bring together North American summer hard-court tennis tournaments under the US Open umbrella and provide a cohesive television schedule for the tournaments—and for tennis fans—beginning after Wimbledon and leading up to the US Open. Another sign of the growing interest in tennis in the U.S., the US Open Series represents a landmark partnership for the sport between the USTA, tournament owners, the ATP and WTA Tour, television partners and business partners all working together to provide fans with better televised access to the sport.

Creating a consistent summer-television tennis schedule for the first time, CBS Sports and ESPN have committed to more than 60 hours of live, regularly scheduled television coverage of US Open Series events. The coverage will include at least six hours of action from each tournament.

The US Open Series will kick off this year, with the game’s top men playing in the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles and the top women competing in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California. This would mark the first of six weeks of men’s and women’s tournaments leading into the US Open, which takes place this year from August 30 to September 12 at the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City’s Flushing Meadows.

“An unprecedented collaboration within the sport has resulted in a huge next step for the sport,” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “Creating a unified Series with a cohesive television package elevates the profile of tennis in the United States. Everyone benefits—the players, the tournaments, the broadcasters and, most importantly, the fans. This creates an inseparable relationship between the crown jewel of the sport in the U.S. and these US Open Series events.”

The USTA and its partners are also joining together for an integrated marketing, advertising and promotional campaign for the launch of the US Open Series, which will include a national advertising campaign, on-air and online promotional support from CBS Sports and ESPN, cross-ticketing and fan promotions and direct marketing to the more than 670,000 USTA members.

All of the partners in this initiative see the US Open Series as an opportunity to grow television viewing and interest in the sport. At the same time, by having a series of tournaments lead into the year’s final Grand Slam event, the power and equity of the US Open brand will help increase fan appeal and make the sport easier and more exciting to follow.