US Men's Clay Court Championship

  • dgec
  • 12 July 2013
  • 03:07

The U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship is an annual ATP Tour tennis tournament that started in 1910. It is the last remaining ATP Tour-level tournament in the United States to be played on clay courts.

The tournament began in 1910 when the Western Lawn Tennis Association (a section of the United States Lawn Tennis Association now known as the USTA/Midwest) lobbied the USLTA that a National Clay Court Championship would help promote the establishment of more clay courts in the West. Clay courts were more economical to install and maintain than grass courts, and the hope was that the lower costs associated with court construction would allow for a more rapid expansion of the game. The first National Clay Court Championships were held at the Omaha Field Club with a crowd of 5,000 watching the finals. Participation and play on clay grew as a result of the event and others, and in 1914 the event was moved to the Cincinnati Tennis Club. It has since been played in numerous cities and is today held in Houston, Texas. Between 1970 and 1989 it was part of the Grand Prix Tennis Tour as part of the Grand Prix Championship Series of events (1970-1986).

Relocation

The event was held at the Houston Westside Tennis Club from 2001-07. On May 8, 2007, the U.S. Tennis Association announced that the River Oaks Country Club in the River Oaks neighborhood would host the tournament starting in 2008, which will keep the event in Houston for several years. Other cities that competed for the event were Atlanta, Georgia, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The tournament pays out US$500,000 with the winner receiving US$79,000. The River Oaks venue features a stadium with seating for 3,000. Temporary seating for 500 will be installed for the second court.

In 2007, after a few years being held on the same red clay used at the French Open, the event was held on Har-Tru green clay. In 2008, the event went to a maroon color of Har-Tru clay as the River Oaks Country Club renovated their courts in 2005. After renovating their courts again in late 2008, the surface remained the same.