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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 30, 2006

Honolulu wooing USTA officials

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

Imagine Andy Roddick and James Blake playing a Davis Cup match in Diamond Head crater or Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport a Fed Cup match on Waikiki Beach.

Those are among the dreams the U.S. Tennis Association's Hawai'i Pacific Section hope to bring to fruition in the next few years. With that in mind, the local section has convinced the USTA to hold its annual board of directors meeting here for the first time next month.

The 15-person board, which includes part-time Hawai'i resident John Korff, gets together May 10. The meeting will include USTA President Franklin R. Johnson and Arlen Kantarian, the USTA's CEO of Professional Tennis. While the 30 or so tennis VIPs are here, they are scheduled to meet Gov. Linda Lingle, Mayor Mufi Hanneman and members of the Hawai'i Tourism Authority.

"We are doing everything right to make this happen," said Korff, whose business is sports marketing and event management.

Korff says O'ahu could create a court for up to 8,000 spectators that shows Hawai'i's best side to television. He's exploring the possibility of putting it in the crater or on the beach. Recent sites in Europe and the Mainland have included courts created on golf courses and at the foot of ski slopes.

Korff says Hawai'i has the luxury of being flexible with its timing — for instance, offer the USTA a two-year window to bring an event here — because the weather is so reliably good. Tennis is also popular with tourism officials because, like golf, it brings in an "upscale demographic," according to Korff. The sport is also popular locally, with the USTA estimating that 10 percent of the population plays.

The local section, with 7,200 members, has a series of events planned for the board's visit.

The stadium court at Diamond Head Tennis Center is undergoing renovations to make it a clone of a U.S. Open court (blue surface, USTA logos). It will be the site of a Tennis Block Party next Sunday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) that is free and open to the public.

The party starts with a Cardio Tennis clinic and includes a Pot of Pros tournament, Youth Tennis Festival and College Coach demonstration. It will end with an exhibition featuring 'Aiea's Dennis Lajola, who has a world junior ranking of 30.

There also will be tennis promotions at Kahala Mall (next Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Pearlridge (May 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

Two-time U.S. Open champion Tracy Austin will be here as part of the Hawai'i push to land a major event. She will lead Cardio Tennis clinics on Maui and O'ahu May 9 and 10. The clinics are open to the public and cost $20 and up. Players must sign up in advance.

Hawai'i has hosted Davis Cup once before. The U.S. played Argentina in a 1992 first-round match at Mauna Lani Racquet Club on the Big Island. The site held 2,500 and tickets sold out in a matter of days to see 20-year-old Pete Sampras, 21-year-old Andre Agassi and 32-year-old John McEnroe.

Local organizers say the economic impact of a Davis Cup on O'ahu would be $8.8 million. It is based on 1,500 players, officials, family and spectators coming in. They figure a Fed Cup would bring in about $6 million. The Fed Cup is the women's equivalent of Davis Cup.

Hawai'i will again host two USTA Futures events this year. The Waikoloa Futures is Nov. 4 to 12 on the Big Island, with the Honolulu Futures Nov. 11 to 19 at the University of Hawai'i. A third Maui event could be added.


Wailea Tennis Club: May 9, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call 879-1958 to register.

Kailua Racquet Club—May 9, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Call 262-2057.

Punahou Tennis Club—May 10, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call 944-5835.

Reach Ann Miller at amiller@honoluluadvertiser.com.