The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

July 9, 2012

USTA Futures tournament returns to Millennium

For the first time in two years, professional tennis will be played in Joplin.

The Millennium Tennis and Fitness Club, partnered with the United States Tennis Association, will host its annual Freeman Health System $10,000 Men’s Futures Tournament from July 13-22.  Last year’s tournament was moved to Tulsa after the May 22 tornado.

“Joplin is perfectly suited for this event,” Brian Early, USTA Pro Circuit director, said a press conference Monday. “To bring this tournament back after last year’s devastation is a testament to this community’s resolve.”

Also speaking at Monday’s press conference was Joplin mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, who declared July 15–22 “tennis week” in Joplin through a proclamation. She also praised the USTA for its recent $100,000 donation to Joplin area schools. 

“We couldn’t be more proud of the USTA for its donation,” said the mayor. “(The new school) is going to be state of the art.”

The Futures circuit is a stepping-stone for many young professionals to advance their tennis careers.  The Joplin tournament was first held in 2000, and has hosted a variety of now-famous players, including American John Isner, who is currently ranked No. 11 in the world. 

“We hope to grow our next champion from this circuit,” said Early.

Qualifying for the tournament will begin this Friday, and play will continue for the next 10 days. The doubles final is scheduled for Friday, July 20, and the singles final will be played two days later. 

The winner of Millennium’s own Wild Card Tournament, which concludes Thursday, gets an automatic bid into the main draw.

“My favorite part of these tournaments is to see the players, years later, when they show up at the U.S. Open,” said Early.

All matches will be played at Millennium, and there is no admission charge for fans.

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