By Craig Ellenport, USOpenSeries.com
With Monday’s start of the BB&T Atlanta Open, the US Open Series is officially under way. In its 16th year, the US Open Series has become a “regular season” for hard-court tennis in North America, linking seven WTA and ATP Tour tournaments with the US Open. The seven tournaments will play out over the next five weeks; the US Open begins main-draw play on Aug. 26.
Week 2 of the Series will feature both the women’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., marking a return to the US Open Series for the first time since 2014. Week 3 features the Rogers Cup tournaments for men (in Toronto) and women (in Montreal). Week 4 features the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, while Week 5 features the Winston-Salem Open in Winston-Salem, N.C., which will be the final tournament before the US Open.
The USTA continues to invest in both the professional and grassroots elements of the US Open Series to promote the game and grow participation in North America. Since its inception in 2004, the US Open Series has expanded television viewing opportunities with a cohesive schedule, while also increasing attendance and generating new corporate partnerships for its tournaments. In addition, the Series will continue to engage its local tournament communities with a variety of outreach initiatives, including grassroots clinics and activities involving Net Generation, the unified youth tennis initiative of the USTA. Prominent among those activities at each tournament are youth tennis clinics with local chapters of the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network, the flagship program of the USTA Foundation. NJTL is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
In total, nearly 300 hours of live, national television coverage is set to air across ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, with every day of the US Open Series – 34 days of coverage – set to air on linear television, an increase over 25 days on linear TV in 2018.
ESPN2 will feature Thursday-through-Sunday coverage from both the Rogers Cup in Toronto (ATP) and Western & Southern Open (ATP/WTA). Tennis Channel, meanwhile, will have 260 hours of US Open Series coverage over the five weeks – more than 100 total hours more than last year. That begins with weeklong coverage from the BB&T Atlanta Open (ATP), starting at 2 p.m. ET on Monday. The full US Open Series broadcast schedule can be found at usopenseries.com/watch.
The US Open Series will continue its recognition of one man and one woman in the early stages of their career who produce an overall signature “Breakout Performance” this summer. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Aryna Sabalenka earned that distinctions in 2018. As the five-week season nears its conclusion during the week of Aug. 19, a pre-established voting panel will determine which two players had the official Breakout Performance of the 2019 US Open Series based on overall results from all tournaments played.
The 2019 US Open Series will be an extension of the US Open "Built for Glory" campaign that debuted last year. The "Built for Your City. Built for Glory" campaign highlights the unique local flavor of each tournament market with distinctive branding and design elements while maintaining a cohesive thread back to the US Open in a way that hasn't been done before. The campaign will roll out across a variety of media, including television, print, out-of-home, digital and social – driving ticket sales and viewership. Fans can join the conversation by using hashtag #USOpenSeries and following @usopen.
Multi-year sponsor Cheeses of Europe will again have a significant presence at each of the U.S.-based Series tournaments with on-site product sampling for fans. In its second year as a US Open Series sponsor, Cheeses of Europe is also partnering with the USTA to produce the Big Cheese Tennis Classic video series, viewable on the US Open’s Facebook page, in which eight European cheeses compete against one another over the course of the summer.
All US Open Series events will again utilize the “Emirates Review,” a “3 plus 1” player challenge system for electronic line calling. The US Open Series is also supported by American Express and Deloitte.
In the US Open Series' latest on-the-court innovation, Thermobanc player benches designed by Mobisport Concept will be introduced at Series tournaments this year. The Thermobanc benches include unique coolers with eutectic plates for cooling rather than ice.
"The partnership between the WTA, ATP Tour and USTA has enhanced every aspect of the US Open Series, making the summer season one of the most exciting and fan-friendly times of the year," said J. Wayne Richmond, USTA Managing Director, Major Events. "Together we find new ways to promote emerging stars alongside the game's champions, engage and inspire every tournament community with family-friendly Net Generation clinics and other outreach initiatives and amplify the captivating play on the court through our strong television and digital viewing partnerships."
The US Open Series will continue to fully embrace grassroots-level, family-oriented events with local communities in order to help support the growth of the sport. All of the events are powered by Net Generation, the official youth tennis of the USTA. Parents and youth players can create accounts today at NetGeneration.com.
The US Open Series enters its seventh year partnering with the USTA Foundation, the national charitable arm of the USTA. The USTA Foundation brings together the powerful combination of tennis and education to change the lives of under-resourced youth around the United States, with a primary focus on the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary since being founded by Arthur Ashe, Sheridan Snyder and Charlie Pasarell. A network of nearly 300 local programs that provides academic support and access to tennis at a free or low-cost basis, NJTL reaches approximately 180,000 under-resourced youth annually.
In each US Open Series market in the United States, the USTA Foundation will host one or more youth tennis clinics for local NJTL chapters. For more information, go to ustafoundation.com.