Professional tennis is returning to the Bronx this summer, with a women’s tournament in August, before the start of the United States Open.
The new event, the N.Y.J.T.L. Bronx Open, will be held at the Cary Leeds Center in Crotona Park and hosted by New York Junior Tennis & Learning, a nonprofit tennis and education program for underserved youth that was founded in 1971 by Arthur Ashe and Lewis Hartman.
The hardcourt tournament will be played Aug. 16 to 24 and essentially replace the Connecticut Open in New Haven on the calendar. The New Haven tournament was sold this year and moved to Zhengzhou, China, where it will be played the week after the U.S. Open in September.
The N.Y.J.T.L. Bronx Open will be the first pro event in the borough since 2012; until then Crotona Park had hosted a tournament every year since 1993.
The Cary Leeds Center was completed in 2017, with a two-story clubhouse and 22 courts, including two with seating for hundreds of spectators. No more than five will be used for the Bronx Open. In July, the complex will become the new home of World Team Tennis matches for the New York Empire, which will feature Sloane Stephens and John Isner.
The Bronx Open will be free to the public, and fans over 18 will be asked to make a donation, the tournament director, Joe Ceriello, said in a telephone interview. The event will be paid for by sponsors, with additional financial support from the United States Tennis Association and the WTA.
“Because of the community that we serve, there’s really so many that can’t afford it, and we want them there,” Ceriello said. “Part of our strategy is to not make ticket revenue part of the tournament and just make it free.”
The Bronx Open is the second tournament to arrive in the New York area in the past few years. The New York Open, a men’s event in February, began at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island last year.
With the addition of this tournament, eight of 55 WTA events on the 2019 calendar will be on American soil. Six of those eight are joint events with men, including the U.S. Open, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and the Miami Open. The WTA plans to add another event in the United States next year.
With $250,000 in prize money, the Bronx event is an International level event, a level below the Connecticut Open, which was a Premier event.
The N.Y.J.T.L. Bronx Open will feature a 48-player qualifying draw and a 30-player main draw in singles, and a 16-team doubles draw.
The event will be the same week as the U.S. Open qualifying tournament at the national tennis center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, which is also free. Ceriello said he expected to draw top-100 players in the main draw of the U.S. Open who are looking for a tuneup event ahead of the season’s last major.