U.S. Tennis defends roofless courts after Open washout

NEW YORK Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:29pm EDT

1 of 2. Fans sit in the rain in Arthur Ashe Stadium during a rain delay at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, September 12, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Tennis Association defended their decision to carry on staging the U.S. Open without the benefit of a covered court even as rain on Sunday postponed the men's final for the third year in a row.

The rain forced world number one Rafa Nadal, seeking to become the seventh man to complete a career grand slam, and Serbian third seed Novak Djokovic to wait until Monday to contest the last grand slam final of the year.

Both the Australian Open and Wimbledon championships have retractable roofs to deal with dodgy weather and French Open officials have discussed the possibility.

"It's technically complex and financially challenging," USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told Reuters. "At a cost of more than $150 million, do you spend that on a roof or continue to fund grassroots tennis programs in this country?"

Widmaier said $100 million had been spent on improvements at the Flushing Meadows complex in the last five years, with the biggest expense being a new indoor training center.

He also said money from the U.S. Open was funneled into player development, grants and scholarships and to improving tennis facilities around the country, which included providing help to resurface 1,100 courts across the United States.

Widmaier said USTA president Lucy Garvin is heading a committee that will be make recommendations to the tennis association on future improvements to the National Tennis Center complex and some options being looked at included covering smaller courts at less expense.

The tournament's second court, Louis Armstrong Stadium, seats 10,500 compared to 23,771 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Four-time U.S. Open winner John McEnroe, now a TV commentator at the championships, said last year he had lobbied USTA officials from the start to put a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium when it was built to replace Louis Armstrong Stadium in 1997 as the tournament's main stage.

"It seemed like a no-brainer but people at the USTA decided they wanted to build the biggest (stadium)," McEnroe said about the Ashe center court. "But at the same price they could've had a slightly smaller stadium and had a roof."

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Comments (3)
PatG wrote:
I’m a New Yorker and I have to say isn’t it hard enough to play in New York, without dealing with the weather in September? The players had to endure 100 degree temperatures, 40 mph winds and then a rainout for the men’s final. Should have spent the money on the roof!!!

Sep 13, 2010 2:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mom2KidsDog wrote:
I love the fact the rain has delayed the final for two years running!! It heightens the quality of the tennis when both men are well-rested. The 2009 final was also delayed by rain, and was simply magnificent. While JMDelPo had an easy win over Rafa, Federer got an extra day of rest even though his win over Djokovic was in three sets, they were a close three. This year, Novak Djokovic certainly needed an extra day of rest after his stunning upset of Federer in five sets in the semis. I think we are now assured of another brilliant final at the US Open as opposed to some of those snoozers from the past.

Sep 13, 2010 2:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
croatian10s wrote:
funding grass roots is a joke to usta they keep money basically. why is the ceo so highly paid? why not hire coaches and train our usta coaches better. in fact usta paid a top argentine jr. to take usa citizenship and eventually play davis cup for us

Sep 14, 2010 12:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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