Professional tennis player Danielle Collins spent her first weekend in Austin enjoying downtown shops, barbecues and live music.
On her next trip to central Texas, she will attend the ATX Open, a pro tennis tournament that will attract the best players from the United States and abroad. On Monday, a panel of city leaders, club officials and Women’s Tennis Association Chairman and CEO Steve Simon gave positive reviews of the tournament, which will begin Feb. 26 at Westwood Country Club.
It will air on the Tennis Channel in the United States and Simon estimates that 700 million viewers around the world will tune in.
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The total prize money is approximately $300,000.
Austin was chosen by the WTA Tour to host this WTA 250 tournament, officials said, because of the city’s commitment to achieving greater wellbeing and opportunities for female athletes. Austin will be among only four women-only Tour-level events in the country.
Collins, who reached the Australian Open final earlier this year, is ranked No. 8 in the world by the WTA – the highest ranking for an American-born player. Although Australia’s Ashleigh Barty defeated Collins 6-3, 7-6 in the final, Collins said the experience was invaluable.
“It gave me a lot of confidence knowing I could play at the highest level,” said Collins. “To play very much against our former world No. 1 and to have a chance to win the second set. … I fell a bit short but it was a good learning experience which I hope I will have they can continue if I play in another Slam final.”
Collins added that this will be a multi-year event for Austin.
As for Austin, Simon said he was blown away by the city as a pro after meeting ATX Open founder Bryan Sheffield and tournament director Christo Van Rensburg.
What did he like best about the club?
“The intimacy,” said Simon. “It’s a non-traditional venue, which means most of our events take place in arenas or venues built for major sporting events. If you look at the terrain and the topography, it’s going to be a very intimate and very special event.”
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Westwood Country Club has 12 perspex courts and six clay courts. The club employs five tennis professionals certified by the US Professional Tennis Association. There are still some details to be worked out regarding the tournament seating, but Simon estimates that the main court will seat around 3,500 spectators.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler noted that the city has become a beacon for elite professional sports in recent years. These include Austin FC (soccer), the Dell Technologies Match Play tournament (golf) and Circuit of the Americas (auto and motorcycle racing).
“People recognize the brand that the city has,” Adler said.
Westwood Country Club is located in West Austin, just west of Camp Mabry. The grounds offer scenic views of Lake Austin.
Collins, who spends about 30 weeks a year playing tennis tournaments abroad, said it was good to have more tournaments in the United States.
“The more I get to play on American soil, the happier I am because I have more support,” said Collins, who lives in Tampa, Florida. “I feel more at home no matter where we play in the United States
“Most importantly, inspiring the next generation of players and creating a strong fan base around the sport of tennis. This means we have to organize more tournaments. The WTA is making great efforts to bring more tournaments here. This event will hopefully lead to more tournaments taking place on American soil. All American players will be grateful for that. I know a lot of the players who aren’t from here and I really enjoy playing in the States.”