UTR Tennis Marks First Major Live US Sports Event Since Coronavirus Shutdown

Jordan Cohn
May 06, 2020 - 2:16 pm

Real, living professional athletes will be playing actual, live tennis in the United States this weekend. That's the first time since the coronavirus-induced sports shutdown held American sports to a complete standstill that there will be a live, major US sporting event within our country's borders.

Starting this weekend on May 8, the Universal Tennis Rating Pro Match Series exhibition for men will be held in West Palm Beach, Florida. The first set of matches will consist of a "three-day prize money competition" featuring Hubert Hurkacz (ATP #29), Reilly Opelka (ATP #39), Tennys Sandgren (ATP#55) and Tommy Paul (ATP #57). Opelka recently came away as the winner of the 2020 Delray Beach Open, while Hurkacz defeated then-No. 4 Dominic Thiem in an upset at the ATP Cup at the beginning of 2020.

It's not going to be a huge, splashy event, and many of the expected precautions will be in place. There will be no public access to the matches, though a chair umpire will preside over the match. To additionally reinforce player safety, each participant will receive "their own set of marked balls" and will be pointed to designated off-court areas.

All the matches will be played on these localized, private courts, but will be widely broadcasted on the Tennis Channel. And if you don't recognize the voice of the commentator, you might recognize him by his insanely fast serves -- his 155 mph serve stood as the world record for quite some time -- or by one of his many memorable rallies.

That's right, Andy Roddick will be one of the voices behind the action this coming weekend. To enhance the experience, the competitors will wear headset technology in order to "provide insight" to producers and on-air talent in the LA studio.

The debut women's tournament will occur two weeks after the men's tournament, and will feature Alison Riske (WTA #19), Amanda Anisimova (WTA #28), Danielle Collins (WTA #51) and Ajla Tomljanovic (WTA #56).

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