Thursday October 1, 2009
Century-old tournament had fizzled by 1999
An old tennis legend is returning to town.
In this case, it's not a famous player that is coming back, but rather a tournament. The Falls City Championship – which started in 1907 as the Falls City Classic – takes place at the Louisville Tennis Center in Joe Creason Park on October 9 to 11. The tournament includes singles and doubles competitions at all adult age levels.
The resurrection of this tournament includes a new twist – the following weekend, October 16 to 18, a junior championship takes place for boys and girls ages 10 to 18.
"Our goal is to have an annual tournament that determines our city's best players in both open and age-restricted categories," said Pete McGrath, the Louisville Tennis Center's head pro. "We're looking forward to bringing back the Falls City tradition, and I hope tennis fans come out to watch some great tennis."
Past champions include Sam English Jr, Mickey Shad, Jackie Cooper and other names that are familiar to veterans of Louisville's tennis scene. The women's championship boasts such winners as Helen Schuhmann, who won the tournament for eight straight years beginning in 1927.
"There's a lot of history that we're honoring by bringing this tournament back," said Mike Heitz, director of Metro Parks.
The Falls City Championship is sanctioned by the US Tennis Association. Players in the adult tournament must register by October 5, while junior players must register by October 12. Registration fees for adults are $33 for singles and $23 per player for doubles, while registration for juniors is $33. Players may register online at www.metro-parks.org/ltc, or by visiting the Louisville Tennis Center at 3783 Illinois Avenue, across from the Louisville Zoo.
The Louisville Tennis Center features 11 clay courts and offers tennis leagues, lessons and clinics for all age levels. It opened in 1969, hosting tournaments that drew legendary players such as Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors. The Tennis Center lost prominence and play declined until it closed after the 2000 season. In 2003, it reopened as a community tennis center, and it has experienced steady growth each year since then. It is Kentucky's most-used seasonal tennis facility, and was named "facility of the year" for 2008 by USTA Kentucky.