Questions arise about tennis event

October 30, 2008
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tennisIt’s unclear how the resignation of U.S. Tennis Association chief exectuive Arlen Kantarian will affect the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Kantarian, 55, announced his resignation from the USTA this afternoon after eight years with the organization.

Kantarian launched and championed the U.S. Open Series, which the local tournament kicked off for the past several years. The U.S. Open Series is a branded circuit of summer hard court events culminating with the U.S. Open. Kantarian shepherded the USTA during an era that saw the U.S. Open, which the organization owns, hit record revenue. Kantarian, tennis experts said, also was bent on seeing the U.S. Open Series thrive.

Kantarian also recently spoke with Indianapolis Tennis Championships officials about ways to strengthen their finances. “He was keen to help this local tournament survive,” a tennis insider said. "He knew it needed help."

Kantarian and ITC officials were unavailable for comment this afternoon.
  • Uh oh.

    The signs are everywhere. Some of the organizations, events, and venues that helped put Indianapolis on the sports map are increasingly neglected and long in the tooth.

    The Velodrome, Natatorium, Track Stadium, Tennis Center, downtown ice rink -- all seem to be withering right in front of our nose. We've spent mucho-bucks on mega structures like Conseco and Lucas. Fine facilities, but access to both are limited, the cost of admission is often prohibitive. Those other facilities are much more user-friendly and accessible.

    How strong is our committment to the many sports organizations and associations headquartered here? Are they also neglected? Taken for granted? Quietly considering relocation?

    Seems like the drive, desire, and public committment that attracted many of those organizations and events in the first place has waivered. The same winds that brought it all in, can also sweep it away.

    Is it time for a city gut-check and recommittment, or is it time to let them go? Anyone considered it, or do we care anymore?
  • Gut-check time indeed. The tennis center is especially tricky because it is part of the IUPUI campus, and IUPUI has no thought of putting one nickel into it--certainly not for tennis. A master plan certainly needs to be developed for these facilities. I had heard that Marian College wanted to take over the Velodrome, but the city balked. IUPUI is looking for city and ISC to kick in on Nat. It's difficult to say which direction we are headed with these facilities. But one thing's for sure, the times they are a changing and standing pat isn't the answer.
  • I think Indianapolis missed out on a great opporunity with this tennis tournament. In the days of Agassi and Sampras it was consistently hailed by players as one of their favorite tournaments on the circuit. Now, as a direct result of the loss of RCA as a title sponsor, the championship has been demoted from International Series Gold to International Series, leading to a reduction in prize money and a failure to attract big names, who would rather save their energy for bigger tournaments like Toronto or Cincy.

    A clear effort was made this year to try to boost the tournament by alotting it more points in the US Open Series challenge, but, given that some players were saving their energy for the Olympics, it's impossible to tell what kind of effect that will have in the future.

    I doubt the tournament will be eliminated, however, since many of these smaller tournaments offer inexperienced players an opporunity to compete in a main draw. But until Indianapolis's financial committment to the tournament goes back up, don't expect to see the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal sightseeing around downtown.
  • Officials for the local tournament should have gotten a financial investment from USTA before now. USTA already has stakes in US Open, Indian Wells, Cincy and one other pro tournament. It seems like that window has closed shut on the local tourney.
  • Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this way but anytime a newspaper article or blog post starts off with It’s unclear how the..., the article or post in question should either be scrapped, researched further, or rethought or positioned.

    The fact is, there is no story here, aside from the fact the blog writer is unclear whether Kantarian's departure will have an impact or not. Kantarian is one person and the tournament's business plan does not hang on the acts of any one individual.

    In my opinion, this post was a waste of time. Let's deal in hard facts, not guess work. Blog writer -- pick up the phone and call Kantarian and ask for an opinion. Talk to someone willing to go on record. This tennis insider stuff I could have made up myself. Just because you blog doesn't mean you do not have a responsibility to cover the issue appropriately.
  • Well, the future of this tennis tournament has been questionable for a few years now. This blog is acknowledging the fact that Kantarian's departure makes it even less certain still.

    If we want to maintain Indianapolis's status as an international sports center, tennis, with it's ever-increasing international audience, HAS to be part of that discussion. If we sit on our hands and wait for cold hard facts, we may find the next cold hard facts we get are that the tournament has been disbanded.
  • Again, the only thing that was certain from the blog post is that the head of the USTA resigned. If the ED of the NBA resigned, would we be talking about basketball's certainty in Indy. Of course not. Just because of the head of the league talked to the team (or in this case, the tournament's leadership) about strengthening its financials, does not mean his departure calls into question the tournament's existence in the first place. That's just flawed logic.
  • Okay, I see your point now. You're right. The blog item could have reported more of the details and that the departure of Kantarian is just one in a line of hurdles that the Indy tournament has faced in recent years.

    The analogy to the NBA doesn't quite hold here, however, since the ATP plays a much more important role in the structure of the tennis season than the USTA. Kantarian worked quite closely with the ATP in adding solidarity and continuity to the summer US hardcourt season. If his concept of a US Open Series is lost, a lack of financing in Indianapolis could lead the ATP to look to elsewhere.

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