Professional tennis has returned to Vermont for the first time in a decade, as The Stowe Mountain Lodge Classic got underway Tuesday.
“It's a beautiful venue,” Canadian tennis star Vasek Pospisil told necn.
Pospisil added that he and fellow athletes, including German player Tommy Haas, are glad for a new event to warm them up right before they compete in the U.S. Open.
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“It's a nice, calm place to get away from all the craziness of New York, but also, it's nice to have some good competition to get ready,” Pospisil said.
In the early 1980s, in the era of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, world-class tennis would regularly come to Vermont. But that fizzled, events became more sporadic, and the state hasn't hosted the pros in a decade, until now.
“It’s been a goal of mine to bring it back,” said Andrew Chmura, the president of Stowe-based Grand Slam Tennis Tours and the organizer of the Stowe Mountain Lodge Classic. “It’s kind of a labor of love.”
Chmura said he is already planning to make the Classic an annual event.
“There really wasn't an exhibition-style tournament right before the U.S. Open, and I thought that might be a good opportunity on the tennis calendar,” the organizer told necn.
Fans like tennis player and coach Franz Collis of Middlebury are excited for the offering.
“It’s great because the kids — they haven't seen this kind of tennis here in Vermont,” Collis noted. “And they haven't seen it in years, so it's nice to have it back.”
Stowe's restaurants, shops, and inns are also hoping to score points with potential new visitors during the event.
“People come to the Stowe Mountain Lodge Classic — they might make a mental note to come back [to Stowe] in the fall or to go skiing and riding in the winter,” said Sharon Harper of the Stowe Area Association, a business and travel promotions group.
The tennis matches continue at the Stowe Mountain Lodge Wednesday and Thursday.