Pro Tennis Tournaments Reportedly Leaving Memphis

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Jurgen Meltzer
  • Jurgen Melzer
The men's and women's pro tennis tournaments held at the Racquet Club have reportedly been sold and will be moved to South America.

Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Regions Morgan Keegan Championship and the WTA women's pro tournament have been sold to IMG Worldwide and will move to Rio.

The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the men's ATP pro tournament, has been in Memphis since 1976 and has featured nearly all of the world's number-one players until the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic era. The WTA women's tournament is a relatively recent addition and did not have a title sponsor this year.

Crowds have been so-so in recent years, but the tournament is a rarity in that it features events for both men and women, and the men's event is a high-level event on the ATP scoring system. It gives Memphis an international event and some worldwide television exposure, but after 36 years it has lost its newness and some of its sizzle.

Sharks Sports & Entertainment is the parent company of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. The firm was formerly known as Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment. Sharks Sports & Entertainment also owns the SAP Open in San Jose, the men's pro tournament that precedes the Memphis event on the winter schedule. It bought the Racquet Club and the tournaments in 2008.

The club has 11 indoor courts and 16 outdoor courts used by members and the University of Memphis tennis teams. Membership has been declining as corporate memberships become more scarce and team tennis matches and leagues move to public courts, private schools, and other clubs. There are also three racquetball courts at the club, but the professional tournament moved away a few years ago. The club has undergone an extensive renovation of the restaurant, lobby, hallways, and locker rooms under the new ownership.

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