Friday, July 28, 2006

US Open Series: What is it?

Over the last few years, tennis fans in North America will no doubt have heard about the US Open Series. What is it?

The US Open Series is essentially links 10 summer tournaments to the US Open to create a cohesive, six-week summer tennis season for ATP and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour professional tournaments in North America. There are 10 tournaments (11 events) that make up the US Open Series. ATP events include the RCA Championships in Indianapolis, the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, the Rogers Cup in Toronto, and the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. WTA events include the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, the Acura Classic in San Diego, JPMorgan Chase Open in Carson, and the Rogers Cup in Montreal. There is also one combined tournament between the ATP and WTA, Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven.

The US Open Series runs for six weeks from July 17 – August 26, 2006 and culminates with the US Open from August 28-September 10. This is similar to a regular season followed by the playoffs in most other North American sports.

This US Open Series is designed to benefit both the tennis players and tennis fans.

For the tennis players, the US Open Series Challenge is an opportunity to win bonus prize money at the US Open based on their final standings in the US Open Series Challenge. Points are accumulated throughout the six-week series and only those players earning points in at least two US Open Series events will be eligible for the final standings. Points are awarded based on the chart below.

The top three finishers in the US Open Series are then eligible for bonus prize money at the US Open based on the based on their results as described below.

For the tennis viewing audience, not only do they get to follow their favorite players in action over the period of eight weeks (six weeks for the 10 tournaments, plus two weeks for the US Open), they also benefit from the extra television coverage. For those in the US, a record 116 live hours of US Open Series coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2, CBS and NBC. In addition, there will be 150 additional hours on The Tennis Channel. With the abundance of television coverage, other countries will also benefit from this increased coverage of tennis. For example, Canadians will be able to watch more tennis coverage on TSN/CTV. With this additional television coverage, and the new instant replay/challenge system that I blogged about previously, television coverage of tennis in North America has never been better.

Since its launch in 2004, The US Open Series has doubled television viewership of tennis, increased total event attendance and contributed to the growing popularity of the sport. This growth should continue on for the near future. I hope everyone takes advantage of the opportunity to watch this enhanced tennis coverage over the next two months. It should be something to remember.

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