By Louisville Metro Parks Community Relations
Younger Louisville residents driving by the Louisville Tennis Center on Trevilian Way might not be aware that the tennis facility once hosted a world-class tournament in the 1970s and 80s.
Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Roy Emerson are a few of the big names who competed at the tennis center, which is a popular full-service tennis facility currently operated under the leadership of Head Pro Pete McGrath and his staff.
The idea for the tournament came from Sam English, Jr., in March 1969. The Louisville Tennis Center was to be dedicated in May, and it was felt that a professional event at the Tennis Center would be a highly effective way to draw attention to the new facility and bring to Louisville the type of publicity necessary to create added interest in the growing sport.
First National Bank sponsored the first Louisville International Tennis Classic in July-August of 1970. Rod Laver defeated John Newcombe in the singles final, 6-4, 6-3. and Newcombe and Tony Roche defeated Laver and Roy Emerson in the doubles finals. The event was nationally broadcast.
The prize money steadily increased from $25,000 during the first year to $175,000 in 1978 and 79. The tournament gradually became unable to attract sponsors and was ended in 1982.