The Start of U.S. Tournament Tennis
U.S. Tournament tennis started right here in Newport in 1881, when the facility hosted the inaugural National Lawn Tennis Championships, the precursor to today’s US Open. Through the years, these grass courts have been the site of many exciting tournaments – men’s, women’s, professional, amateur, Tour Level, Davis Cup, and more.
40 Years of Championships
This is a special week for tennis in Newport, as the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup marks its 40th anniversary of bringing ATP World Tour action to the historic courts of Newport. The event in 1976 was considered an exhibition, with the tournament becoming officially sanctioned in 1977. India’s Vijay Amritraj won the first tournament in 1976, and won again in 1980 and 1984. An intimate venue with loyal fans who return year after year, the tournament in Newport has always offered a comfortable atmosphere for players and fans alike and it is known to be a great place to see some of the sport’s rising stars in action – as is the case this week.
In fact, 15 players nabbed their first ATP World Tour win in Newport, including notables like Leander Paes and Tom Gullikson. The event has helped launch many careers, with numerous players getting their first ATP World Tour Main Draw match in Newport. Among those who began their careers here are current No. 1 American John Isner (2007), former world No. 4 James Blake (1998), eventual doubles world No.1 Pat Galbraith (1989), and even Todd Martin, who played his first ever Tour level match in Newport in 1990 before going on to be a two-time Grand Slam finalist and eventual CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Over the past 40 years, the draw boards in Newport have listed some of the sport’s most exciting players coming through while they were building their Hall of Fame careers. John McEnroe, Manuel Santana, Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, Pat Rafter, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde have all competed in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, and recent years have seen some dynamic players come through Newport who are likely to be back for their own Hall of Fame induction in the future. Surrounded by the legacy of tennis’ greatest champions, yet always welcoming to aspiring newcomers, Newport is a special place to compete.
As we mark the 40th anniversary of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships next week, we look forward to another great week and to building upon Newport’s storied tennis history.