The USTA announced that the 33rd season of the USTA Pro Circuit began with two clay-court events in Florida—the $10,000 men’s Futures in Plantation, Fla., and the $25,000 women’s event in Innisbrook, Fla. The USTA Pro Circuit, the largest developmental tennis circuit in the world, is scheduled to feature 88 events—including a record 31 tournaments on clay—and a total prize money purse of nearly $3 million.
The Plantation tournament begins a string of four consecutive clay-court $10,000 men’s Futures events and the Innisbrook tournament is the first of two consecutive $25,000 women’s events to be played on clay. This is the first of two clay-court seasons on the USTA Pro Circuit calendar to take place prior to the French Open. In conjunction with USTA Player Development, the USTA Pro Circuit continues to emphasize the importance of increased training for younger players on clay, particularly at the $10,000/$25,000 level for women and $10,000/$15,000 level for men.
Also, prize money has risen to $100,000 for two men’s Challengers (Dallas and Sarasota, Fla.), bringing the total to six for the 2012 calendar—an all-time high. In addition, new sponsors and community partners have come on board and eight tournaments will be celebrating more than 20 years of involvement with the USTA Pro Circuit.
Up-and-coming players scheduled to begin their season this week include: 2011 U.S. Open mixed-doubles champion and 2010 U.S. Open boys’ champion Jack Sock; 2011 U.S. Open girls’ singles champion Grace Min; former world number three junior and 2011 USTA Girls’ 18s singles champion Lauren Davis; 2010 French Open boys’ runner-up Andrea Collarini; Shelby Rogers, the 2010 USTA Girls’ 18s National Champion; and Rhyne Williams, who reached the final of the 2011 NCAA singles tournament while at the University of Tennessee and has since turned pro.
With prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the U.S. Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis professionals, and a frequent battleground for established players. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for valuable ranking points on the ATP World Tour and WTA Tour. Administered on the local level, the USTA Pro Circuit brings world-class tennis to local courts nationwide as part of the fabric of communities–an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.
Since 1979, 16 USTA Pro Circuit alums (including five Americans) achieved the number one world singles ranking. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Lindsay Davenport, Pete Sampras, Justine Henin, Jim Courier and Andre Agassi are among the game’s top stars who began their career on the USTA Pro Circuit. The past few years have seen breakout performances by USTA Pro Circuit players, including that of John Isner, Christina McHale, and Ryan Harrison.