EDWARDSVILLE — The sixth annual Edwardsville Futures, a USTA men’s tennis tournament, has something for everybody.
Take it from tournament coordinator Dave Lipe, also the Edwardsville High tennis coach.
“There are guys who come here and play in this tournament that have done big things in tennis,” Lipe said. “They are the future stars of the ATP tournament.”
The stars will shine brightly over the eight EHS tennis courts beginning July 25, when the main competition commences. The tournament, featuring $25,000 in prize money, will run through July 31 and figures to be a boon for Edwardsville and Glen Carbon.
“The economic impact has been figured at $250,000 for local businesses,” said Joe Gugger, president of the EGHM Foundation. The EGHM group includes Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Hamel and Midway.
He added, “The city and school district have gotten behind us and we have had tremendous support from the community and business leaders. We will have people here for more than 10 days and they will be spending a lot of money in Madison County.”
Lipe said players began arriving earlier this week, “so the event is basically a two-week deal.”
It serves as one of the largest tennis events in the St. Louis region and is the only one at a high school. EHS is the hub, or tournament central.
Former Tiger tennis standout Jack Desse and current EHS teacher Emily Cimarolli are working with Lipe to oversee the tournament.
“Emily is the associate director and she has been with me since Day 1,” Lipe said.
Desse, a student at SIUE, is an assistant tourney director helping with various responsibilities, including handling the media.
“It’s incredible the talent that’s here,” Desse said of the players. No fewer than 136 of them are angling for 32 spots in the main draw.
The talent knows no boundaries. It’s an international flavor.
“This year’s field is the best we have had,” Lipe said. “We have players from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia. There are players from more than 20 countries.”
The U.S. is well-represented, with former University of Tennessee star Tennys Sandgren cast as the No. 2 seed. Chicagoan Evan King, the No. 3 seed, is the defending champ. He also competed in the 2011 event.
“We have a lot of people from Chicago,” Lipe said. “The overall competition is greater than you will see at an NCAA tennis tournament. If you think of it in baseball terms, it’s like Class AA baseball competition.”
EHS Principal Dennis Cramsey said the Tigers embrace the event.
“We are all about promoting activities and we can be the stewards of resources given to us,” Cramsey said. “There’s a never-ending circle of support in all directions. This is more than about tennis. It’s about people.”
And that starts with Lipe.
“Dave sleeps, eats and breathes tennis,” Cramsey said.
Lipe noted, “We want to keep the facility in pristine condition to host an event like this one. The Edwardsville Futures is a great fit for the players because they can go from the tournament in Godfrey to ours and then to Decatur and Champaign. We call it the Illinois swing.
“It’s unique to have four Futures tournaments that close together and awesome to have two of them in Madison County.”
Locally, St. Louisan Carson Haskins is a guy to watch. Haskins, a two-time Missouri champion from Parkway South, won the recent Edwardsville Open.
“He’s one of the youngest players here,” Lipe said. St. Louisans Dillon Steffens and Michael Peters, the doubles winners in the Edwardsville Open, also are in the Futures doubles field.
The pro wild card challenge began Tuesday and qualifying rounds get going Saturday and conclude Monday. Come next Tuesday, main draw singles and doubles matches unfolds. Finals in singles and doubles are scheduled for Sunday, July 31.
Other key tourney events include:
- Kids Night from 6-7:30 p.m. July 24;
- Mitch and Friends Night from 6:30-7:30 p.m. July 25;
- A high-performance junior clinic from 6-8 p.m. July 26;
- A player/VIP party at 6 p.m. July 27 at Sunset Hills Country Club;
- Another high-performance junior clinic from 6-8 p.m. July 28;
- An adult doubles clinic and micro-tournament from 7-9 p.m. July 29;
- Family Day from 10 a.m. until noon July 30.
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