Held at the superb Darling Tennis Center in Summerlin for three years (2006-08), the ATP World Tour Tennis Channel Open arrived in Las Vegas from Palm Springs, where it was held from 1986-2005. The tournament had a Vegas connection even before it came to town: Andre Agassi holds the record with four singles titles: 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2002.
In some ways, the Tennis Channel Open recalled the glory days of the Alan King Caesars Palace Tennis Classic. From 1972-85, the Alan King tourney brought such stars as Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe to the then-sprawling Caesars outdoor tennis complex for an important stop in the Grand Prix Championship Series.
The end of King left a void in the Vegas tennis menu, and many local fans hoped the Tennis Channel Open would fill it. In its first year at the Darling Center, the Open enjoyed good attendance, and some fans even came dressed to evoke images of tennis stars of the past. I spotted at least one “Agassi” and a young raqueteur sporting rant-era McEnroe short-shorts, sweatbands and a voluminous curly wig. There was even one old dude who dusted off his vintage Sergio Tacchini warm-ups and Ray Ban Aviators for the occasion. (OK, that was me.)
Unfortunately, the Tennis Channel Open was sold to the ATP and moved to South Africa for 2009. The tournament never achieved stellar attendance figures here, particularly during weeknight sessions, when our notorious spring winds combined with the dry desert chill to chase away fans. Also to blame? A declining American love affair with tennis that can be traced, at least in part, to the nearly 10-year gap since an American man won a Grand Slam tournament. But while the Tennis Channel Open is gone, the impressive 110-acre facility—the largest public outdoor tennis center in the state—remains. Lucky us.
What is with the Las Vegas love affair with chain restaurants?
That’s easy: comfort. Whether the patrons just moved here or are just visiting, the easy familiarity of national chains provides emotional respite—via predictable decor, pricing and menu offerings—during otherwise stressful moments. Don’t hate; we’ve all pulled into a Starbucks on a road trip just to use the toilet.