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A Wimbledon grass court tune-up event may be in the cards for North America.

The Wessen Lawn Tennis Club in Pontiac, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, is starting to plan to host a grass-court preparatory tournament in June of 2018. The tournament will be a non-sanctioned men’s prize money tournament for aspiring grass-court pros and juniors.

The facility, that was profiled in the New York Times in 2014, features 24 perennial-rye grass courts, the exact type of specific grass courts as Wimbledon. The latitude and climate of Pontiac is also very close to that of London, sitting at 42 degree latitude vs. 51 degrees latitude for London allowing for the perennial rye grass to be in the same condition as at the All England Club and providing for an excellent North American training stop for any player planning to play in Wimbledon, Wimbledon qualifying or in the Wimbledon junior championships. Many tennis observers have called the facility, including an immaculately decorated clubhouse, as one of the best tennis clubs in the country, if not the world.

The planned tournament will be played either the week after the French Open (June 11) or the second week after the French Open (June 18) during the week of the Queen’s Club and Halle ATP events. The event would likely end on a Saturday so as to allow for an overnight flight to Britain

“We’d like to be a stop for player who want to get a few days under our immaculate grass courts before taking off on a direct flight out of Detroit to Britain,” said Bill Massie, the owner and architect of the Wessen Lawn Tennis Club. “Our goal is to get a few players who want to get while also giving other players a competitive opportunity on grass to gain experience on the surface and a chance to earn some prize money.”

Massie’s ultimate long-term goal for his club is to host an ATP 250 level professional event with a shorter term goal being to host a men’s and/or women’s challenger tournament. For now, the club will start with a prize money tournament for better flexibility in scheduling and in how the event is run. Massie is planning to partner with the non-profit foundation for boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini where funds raised for the event can be distributed to charities in Pontiac and in the American Midwest. Massie was introduced to the Mancini Foundation and its executive director Maria Meadors by former USTA marketing executive Randy Walker, also the current tournament director of the USTA Pro Circuit men’s event in Vero Beach, Florida. Walker will serve as the tournament director for the Pontiac event.

For more information on the event, including on sponsorships, tickets, pro-ams or entries, contact Randy Walker at Rwalker@NewChapterMedia.com or 917 770 0843.

 

Wessen Lawn Tennis Club in Pontiac, Michigan

Wessen Lawn Tennis Club in Pontiac, Michigan



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Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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