From January 22-29th Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel will be hosting a $25,000 USTA Women’s Tennis Event. There will be 64 professional women tennis players with notable and future stars competing for world ranking points. In order to gain access to Grand Slams such as the US Open, players must first achieve a high ranking through WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) sanctioned events, like this one. The USTA Pro Circuit is the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, which provides players with the opportunity to gain these professional ranking points. In fact almost every professional on tour had to first succeed in USTA Pro Circuit events to get where they are- and it is arguably the most competitive circuit there is. While there is significant prize money in these events, the players don’t even really consider that a motivation. The money pales in comparison to moving up in world rankings and the opportunity that provides. A number of players competing in this event are already competing in Grand Slams and large tournaments around the world, so the level of tennis ranges from tour-professional through a tier just below it.
Also, because this is the pathway to tour-level tournaments one can assume that some players they watch here will be the same the ones they watch one TV in big events in years to come. And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say you saw them when… The cut for the main draw is 250, so only players in the top 250 in the world are guaranteed a spot. Because of Saddlebrook’s respected reputation in the tennis world it has and is expected to attract some bigger names than typical for a tournament that is on the lower side of the prize money spectrum. Its save to say many top players that did not make it into the Australian Open (currently in progress) will be playing at Saddlebrook next week instead.
Saddlebrook has an international boarding school for players looking to become professional or achieve a college scholarship. It has been creating pros in Wesley Chapel’s backyard for over 30 years, such as Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, and Jennifer Capriati (Roddick and Capriati Both attended Saddlebrook Tennis Academy for high school). While the students may not have been born in Wesley chapel, it has become their home. Leaving their friends and families at a young age to live in America, and sacrifice the normal carefree life of a teenager to strive for a professional career. Saddlebrook Academy will have two players competing in this event. Layne Sleeth promising young Canadian, who recently won the Under 18 Canadian National Championship the day after her 15th birthday and Cindy Chen a 16 year old from China. In addition there will be several Saddlebrook players who train out of Saddlebrook Academy but are no longer in school. Lauren Embree (all American at U of Florida), Caitlyn Williams, Solome Devidze, Kariann Pierre Louis, and Jaeda Daniel. Finally, will be Prim Siripipat, Saddlebrook alumna, who played on the U.S. National Team and is currently an American television anchor on ESPN and co-host of “Spain and Prim” on ESPN Radio.
There is no spectator charge for this tournament. However, it is located on Saddlebrook Resort which requires valet parking of $25 per day. Poolside restaurant available for food.
Date and Time:
January 22-29th 8:00am-5:00pm (approximately depending on match durations). 4 rounds per day.
Professional Women’s Tennis Players from all over the world will travel to Saddlebrook Resort to compete in the Singles and Double draw. The prize money is $25,000, but more importantly, is the opportunity to gain ranking points which affords you a pathway into bigger tournaments, such as Grand Slams. In total there will be 64 pros and future tennis superstars here for the event.
USTA Pro Circuit Information-
With approximately 90 tournaments hosted annually throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. The USTA launched its Pro Circuit in 1979 to provide players with the opportunity to gain professional ranking points, and it has since grown to become the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, offering nearly $3 million in prize money. Eugenie Bouchard, Grigor Dimitrov, John Isner, Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Caroline Wozniacki are among today’s top players who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit.