Isner, SMU to host as ATP tour begins late winter North American swing
It’s been more than 30 years since tennis fans packed Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas to watch the best men’s tennis players in the world in the annual WCT Finals. The Dallas Open won’t immediately return the city to that level of prominence on the professional tennis landscape, but it’s a long-overdue start.
The tournament, scheduled for Feb. 6-13, will bring world-ranked players such as John Isner, Reilly Opelka, and Grigor Dimitrov to SMU’s Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex for what organizers hope will become an annual fixture on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour.
The event, which had been called the New York Open since 2018, is being relocated to a venue with about 2,500 seats — barely meeting the minimum indoor requirement from the ATP, the global governing body for men’s tennis.
“The history and the excitement said that this was the right place. It hit all of our marks,” said tournament director Peter Lebedevs. “The players and the fans like to get up close and personal. It’s more memorable for both sides. Our worst seat will be about 45 feet from the court.”
The Dallas Open will be the only indoor ATP event in the United States this year. Many players will be flying in from the prestigious Australian Open to begin the tour’s traditional late-winter North American swing.
Isner, 36, who lives in the Park Cities with his wife, Highland Park graduate Madison McKinley, and their three children, helped lure the event to SMU. A portion of the proceeds will benefit his foundation.
We’re planning to be here for many years.Peter Lebedevs
“Having John as our host is also very helpful,” Lebedevs said. “We’ve never had a player in the locker room promoting our tournament.”
Among the planned fan amenities are player meet-and-greet opportunities, theme nights – one devoted to the history of tennis in Dallas – and various giveaways and interactive experiences.
Plus, officials will place a bubble over the six outdoor courts at the SMU complex, enclosing the practice courts so fans can watch up close.
“When we looked for opportunities, we wanted to create a very intimate atmosphere,” Lebedevs said. “We can create some great memories for the fans who are there.”
The championship matches will be on Feb. 13, a few hours before the Super Bowl. So instead of forcing Texans to choose between tennis and football, they can have both.
“Everybody’s enthusiasm has been great,” Lebedevs said. “We’re planning to be here for many years.”