Atlanta, with a top 10 metropolitan-area population size, is culturally known for a wide variety of things, from the Georgia Aquarium to the World of Coca Cola®. In recent years, Atlanta has pushed to grow and regain its status as a major American sports hub.
In the 1990s, Atlanta was one of the country’s premier sports towns. Georgia Tech opened the decade with a national college football championship in 1990. The Braves won the 1995 World Series. Nearby Augusta annually hosts The Masters, one of the PGA Tour’s four major championships. Not to mention, the Falcons, Hawks, and other professional and collegiate teams excite fans on a daily basis. Above all, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Edition of the Olympic Summer Games in 1996. As it entered the new millennium, fans welcomed the Atlanta Thrashers after an 18 year hiatus from NHL hockey.
However, less than ten years later, the city was named ‘America’s Most Miserable Sports City’ by Forbes Magazine. Atlanta found itself in need of a rebrand. One step towards that goal has been the successful branding of the city as an attractive location for hosting professional tennis events.
The Racquet Club of the South played host to this year’s iteration of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the second since the event’s relocation from Indianapolis, where it was known as the RCA Championships. The tournament draw featured of several of the marquee American players on the ATP World Tour, including James Blake, Robby Ginepri, and Ryan Harrison. In the end, two more top Americans squared off as Mardy Fish defeated University of Georgia alum and home crowd favorite John Isner in a rematch of 2010’s final to win his second consecutive championship in Atlanta.
Tennis fans around the country tuned into The Tennis Channel and ESPN for television broadcasts of the week-long competition. The Racquet Club of the South provided an excellent backdrop with top notch facilities and impressive crowds. “We were extremely impressed with the world class talent at the Atlanta Tennis Championships,” said attendee James Kiely M.D. “ESPN’s involvement and the coverage really underscores the national draw of the Atlanta sports market.”
While the Atlanta Tennis Championships is the first event in the ATP schedule, the organizers of the tournament are optimistic about the sport’s future in Atlanta. The series is undoubtedly expected to return next year, and locals will be sure to welcome it back with trademark hospitality. Perhaps someday pro tennis will find Georgia as suitable for a major event as the PGA Tour does, but for now, events like the Atlanta Tennis Championships are at least bringing excitement as the city strives for the rejuvenation of its once sports greatness.