Friday, August 02, 2002

ATP tennis fans should be fired up



By Cindi Andrews, candrews@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Jana Novotna has a laugh during her match Thursday with partner Tom Gullikson in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Mason.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — The next 10 days are going to be hot, hot, hot at the ATP Tennis Center, and we're not talking about the players' serves and volleys.

        The Western & Southern Financial Masters — one of nine Masters-level tennis tournaments worldwide — began with seniors play Thursday evening as temperatures edged down from a 5 p.m. high of 95. The weather's going to get worse before it gets better, but tournament director Bruce Flory played down the impact on his bottom line.

        “Tennis fans are a pretty hardy bunch,” he said, and hot weather is to be expected in August.

        But 102 degrees? That's going to be the high on Monday, according to AccuWeather forecasters. Monday's the first day of the main draw — one of the most popular days of the tournament, Mr. Flory said. Four or five pairs of players will square off at a time as the field is narrowed.

        Overall, tournament ticket sales are a little behind last year's, he said. But because same-day walk-ups account for only 5 percent to 10 percent of sales, uncomfortable temperatures have only a small effect, he said. Those who already have ticket packages may just use fewer of their tickets or not stay as long if it's too hot.

        Bad weather may affect vendors more.

        “If people aren't out here,” Mr. Flory said, “they're not buying T-shirts, they're not buying food — and that hurts our vendors.”

        It also hurts Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, a main beneficiary of the nonprofit tournament. Vendors contribute 45 percent of their gross, said Jerry Stinnett, owner of Tabby's American Grill & Bar. The Mason restaurant, a veteran tournament participant, made about $9,000 for the hospital last year.

        “I have five kids, and I've been to Children's a few times with them,” Mr. Stinnett said.

       



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