Two more private events have been confirmed. Countries have lifted restrictions and events can be held with local players if safety protocols are in place. Is this the start to a return to tennis?
With the tennis season still in lockdown, exhibition tournaments have popped up around the world from various countries that have eased restrictions in order to have these localized, private events.
First up is the Generali Pro Series in Austria. Led by World #3 Dominic Thiem, 16 male players will compete in a round-robin style tournament, complete with a final single-elimination tournament to decide the winner. There will also be a women’s tournament with 8 players in the field. Scheduled for May 25th, the two-week series will not include line judges, ball boys/girls, or spectators.
These will be the 4th and 5th exhibition tournaments, respectively. There was a May 4th local tournament in Germany, a women’s exhibition in Belarus, and the UTR Pro Series in Florida.
All of these events are part of the (RE)Open 2020, headed by Tennis Channel. Under normal circumstances, most local exhibition events are not allowed to held due to the rules, however, with the stoppage in play still in effect, these rules do not apply. Many other countries are expected to gradually participate once restrictions are lifted.
It’s unknown how long these events can continue; lower-level players are still in need of funding to stay afloat, and while these events do go a ways in helping, it doesn’t seem like a long-term plan. In addition, the major tournaments, including lower-level 250 events, are all still unable to be played. Exhibition events can only go so far in funding players and the tours.
It’s a double-edged sword. If these exhibitions were to continue, it wouldn’t put the 2020 season in a good light considered they could simply be replaced by the private tournaments to fund players until the beginning of the 2021 season. On the other side, not having any of these tournaments will make sure the regular events can get pushed to begin play as soon as possible, which would result in a chance for the 2020 season to return before it’s over.
We’ll follow the (RE)Open and see how these events progress, with updates on the 2020 season and beyond.