Drip, Drip, Drip: More Details Leak on Citi’s Acquisition of Legg Mason #DC

Woodward, Berenstain and the Leaks

I’m no Woodward, nor am I a Bernstein. I’m more like a Berenstain Bear, and these leaks from Washington are hitting me right in the head. The latest confirmation of the Legg Mason Tennis Classics metamorphosis comes not from a journalist, but from the ball person coordinator for the tournament.

In an email sent to Legg Mason tournament volunteers in the wee hours of this morning, the Ball Person Chair noted that “the site will be rearranged with Grandstand being where the north practice courts have been for years and will be constructed to fit a larger capacity than the old Grandstand court. In conjunction with this change, they will be paving over a row of the clay courts, making them hard courts, which may be where they put the practice courts. However, we won’t get the official word on the site change until it gets closer to tournament time.”

The email also promises “many new surprises that are unfolding as we get closer to the tournament.”

RIP LMTC 1993-2011

I, for one, can’t take any more surprises. As a Marylander and a tennis fan, this has been a rough week. The State lost the CitiOpen WTA event, lost the naming rights of a Baltimore-based corporation with an 18-year history at the DC ATP event, lost a pro training facility in Howard County, and lost a full week of tennis for fans. As one who covered both of last years pro tennis events in the DC area, it was exhausting. Now, local bloggers will get to spend an extra week poolside this summer. But it’s not about the bloggers, is it? It’s about the fans. The more I think about it, it is lost tennis opportunity. It would be better for fans to have two weeks worth of Orders of Play to catch more matches. It’s TOO MUCH VACATION!

If the event thrives, it will all be worth it. I think.

Just in case all the news fit to print hasn’t already leaked out, you can expect live tweets from @TennisEastCoast this afternoon beginning at 12:30 p.m. from the W Hotel in Washington. Also, @KelynSoong will be tweeting for Tennis Grandstand. I’m excited to see what the W folks have done to the old Hotel Washington, where my grandfather worked as a busboy on the rooftop restaurant in the 1940s. With all these leaks, though, you’d think the Watergate would have been better-suited for the event.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the US Open Member pre-sale starts in 45 minutes.

–S. Fogleman

CitiOpen and the Inevitable, Imminent Invite to DC; Tuesday Presser Called #ATP #WTA #DC

Rock Creek could be co-ed for years to come

The working title for DC’s pro tennis tournament is…
“Leggs and the Citi”!

CitiOpen, Maryland’s first professional tournament in decades, is on the verge of announcing a move across the border from College Park to Northwest Washington. The signs have been pointing in that direction for the WTA for some time.

In February, this blog broke the news that CitiOpen would not return to the Tennis Center at College Park. With the Olympics scheduled for the same period as CitiOpen, there was some concern that it would be held at all. TCCP CEO Ray Benton opined at the time that it would probably end up in DC alongside Legg Mason, and it appears that the Tennis Statesman knew exactly what he was talking about. Late last year, the WTA international event was set for the same main draw starting date, July 30, as the ATP’s Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington. 

Last week, I noted on twitter that the Troy Park Tennis Center in Elkridge, Maryland, which was once touted as a future permanent home for CitiOpen, had been axed as another victim of local budget cuts.

On Friday, Lynn Berenbaum reported from twitter handle @LynnLovesTennis that the Legg Mason twitter account changed last week from @LeggMasonTennis to @DCATPTennis. Of course, that news by itself could simply imply that the title sponsor had backed out.

When you factor in that CitiOpen recently changed its handle to @WTACitiOpen, you realize that it must be far more than a coincidence that these two events simultaneously decided to add the acronyms of the respective tennis governing bodies in their twitter names. It wasn’t done to pay respect to the WTA and ATP. It was almost certainly done to distinguish accounts for a separate men’s and women’s tournament in the same locale.

Why, then, would the smaller CitiOpen keep its name and the larger Legg Mason change theirs?

Also on Friday’s feed, @WTAToday noted a Tuesday press conference at the W Hotel in Washington. The advisory for the presser advises us to expect “an announcement that will change the nature of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic – D.C.’s ATP World Tour 500 event – now and in the future”. In addition to the ATP’s Mark Young, Lagardere exec and former US Davis Cup Captain Donald Dell will be there. His company effectively owns CitiOpen. I wouldn’t worry about a new sponsor for the “DC ATP 500″, since a Legg Mason rep is scheduled to speak. Finally, “a high level executive from a leading global company” will be on hand. Occupy Wall Street BFF Citigroup falls into that category.

So, there you have it. DC gets a joint event. Elementary, my dear @HeatherWatson92.

While twitterers had it right first, it was reassuring to have Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal confirm it this morning. It’s a merger. It will all be called “CitiOpen” now. The larger Citigroup has indeed swallowed smaller financial services sponsor Legg Mason, at least for pro tennis purposes.

This should work wonders for fans and the sport. Last year, CitiOpen backed right up to Legg Mason on the calendar, meaning a die-hard tennis fan needed two weeks and three weekends in a row to take it all in. A joint tournament will ensure an exciting and compact event. Legg Mason and Rock Creek Park is well-known as the place that regional tennis fans flock each August. By contrast, attendance at CitiOpen in College Park was highly disappointing. As Tennis Center at College Park’s Ray Benton told Tennis East Coast in January, “it didn’t work”.

Though I am a proud Marylander, the disappointment that the Free State will not play host to a pro tournament is mitigated by the idea that the DC/MD/VA area could sustain a successful WTA international level event for years to come. I’ll miss the Legg Mason designation, but it doesn’t matter what they call it as long as it remains in tennis perpetuity.

–S. Fogleman

Meet Our New Correspondent

2010 Legg Mason Kid's Day, Washington

We’re pleased to introduce Annabel, Tennis Maryland’s newest contributor. Annabel has been a tennis fan since she attended the Rogers Cup ATP event in Montreal, Canada on her first birthday in 2009, watching Novak Djokovic win on Court Banque National and Andy Roddick prosper at Stade Uniprix.

She followed that experience with a debutante appearance at Legg Mason Kid’s Day in 2010 and a return visit to Montreal, this time for the WTA event.

Around this time, Annabel’s mom put her tennis foot down and declared that Annabel ought never to be seated in the front row at a pro match for reasons involving the child prodigy’s then-inability to keep quiet. Imagine!

Thereafter, Annabel’s involvement in the game has exclusively involved tournament Kid’s Days (Washington, Newport, CitiOpen), annual pilgrimages to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Wii Grand Slam play and on-court Quikstart instruction. She even took a lesson from Sebastien Decoud last summer.

Though she’ll only be contributing on a part-time basis, you can expect full-court coverage from this li’l Jimmy Olsen. Her first product review will appear on the site tomorrow.

Best deal for Tennis/Happy Hour Fans: Legg Mason Night at the Net

Do you like Beer, Food and Andy Roddick, Homer?

Sometimes, we have mixed feelings about giving away all the secrets of local tennis bargains. On the other hand, that is what this site is all about. So here goes:

Legg Mason’s Alumni Night at the Net is Tuesday, August 2nd. Legg Mason has confirmed that Andy Roddick will play his first round match that evening. That would cost you $40 a piece for tickets plus a hefty Ticketmaster surcharge.

Or, just call Legg Mason at 202-721-9500 as soon as possible, and for $50, turn that night into a steal. How about a $40 ticket, and a two-hour open bar reception from 6-8 p.m. featuring Coronas and hors d’oeuvres to boot? Plus, you’ll get to meet some tennis players in the Hospitality tent. This event always sold out way in advance. For whatever reason, tickets are still available this year. Tennis Maryland confirmed availability with Legg Mason at 7:45 p.m. tonight. The session goes from 4 -10 p. m. and with the reception smack dab in the middle of the session, it should be a lively crowd for the last match of the night, if you know what we mean.  Do us a little egotistical favor and tell them you read about it on Tennis Maryland. We sort of bragged that we could sell at least three pairs. Take your significant other, especially if they don’t love tennis. They’ll love the date. Then, you can spring the whole tennis obsession thing on them with an ad in.  

If you like beer, Andy Roddick, food and steals, we ought to be friends. Gerald Ford would be there. Meet us there!