By Allison Wickline
Excitement, competition, and entertainment were in high supply at The Greenbrier last September during The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic, an event now being established as a Greenbrier tradition. Under sunny fall skies, tennis legends John McEnroe and Pete Sampras, who between them hold 21 career Grand Slam men’s singles titles, fought hard for the championship trophy, while a sold-out crowd looked on.
After losing the first set to McEnroe, Sampras took the second set and went on to beat McEnroe in a close 10-8 tiebreaker finish. After the match, The Greenbrier’s owner Jim Justice presented the trophy to Sampras saying, “Okay, Pete, this is for you, baby.” Sampras thanked him by presenting his racquet to Justice and McEnroe followed suit with his “losing racquet.”
Following the overwhelming success of last year’s event, The Greenbrier has decided to continue the tradition by hosting the second annual Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic on September 21-22, 2013. The event will feature exhibition matches with Tennis Hall of Fame legends Pete Sampras and John McEnroe, last year’s competitors, and for the first time ever, Ivan Lendl and Tommy Haas. Altogether, these four tennis greats hold 29 career Grand Slam men’s singles titles and are considered to be among the greatest living tennis stars in the world. Currently ranked #11 in the world, Tommy Haas has had remarkable success playing on the ATP World Tour in 2013, including a victory over #1 Novak Djokovic in March.
“We are so thrilled to continue to build the tradition of the fall Tennis Classic at The Greenbrier, and welcome Pete and John back to the resort,” says Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier. “And we could not ask for better ambassadors for the resort and our extraordinary tennis facilities than four of the most talented players that have ever graced the court in international men’s tennis.”
The 2013 Classic will span two days and will include three marquee matches between the four tennis legends and a Pro-Am. The Classic will also have a new format. Last year’s competitors McEnroe and Sampras will be teammates playing against the team of Lendl and Haas.
“It’s so great to see The Greenbrier continue to bring tennis to the forefront at this incredible resort,” says McEnroe. “The crowd at last year’s tournament welcomed Pete and me with such open arms, and I’m sure that the new expanded format of the tournament, with the ‘Americans vs. Europeans’ faceoff with Ivan and Tommy, will encourage even more fans to come out for a great fall weekend.”
“I am really looking forward to returning to The Greenbrier again this fall for some great tennis--and hopefully a little golf, too!” reveals Sampras. “John and I had such a great time last year, and I’m psyched to join forces with him this year to take on the ‘new challengers’ at the tournament.”
The Greenbrier began its long-standing relationship with tennis in the 1890s with guests playing on the cottage lawns. The resort began building tennis courts in the early 1900s, beginning with grass courts and moving to clay. Beginning in 1921 and continuing for nearly two decades, the Mason and Dixon championship tennis matches, which brought names like Bill Tilden, Francis Hunter, and Vincent Richards, were held at the height of the social season at the resort.
In 1937, the resort replaced the clay courts with Har-Tru courts just in time for that year’s U.S. Pro Tennis Championships (the precursor to the modern U.S. Open), in which legendary golfer and Greenbrier golf pro Sam Snead competed.
During World War II, the courts took on a different purpose—physical therapy for wounded soldiers. The Greenbrier then participated in the tennis boom that hit the USA in the 1970s, when the Hilltop Courts and Tennis Club, with 10 Har-Tru tennis courts, were opened, as well as the indoor tennis facility. During this time, The Greenbrier also hosted The World Senior Tennis Championship for five years in a row.
On Saturday, September 21, 2013, two singles matches will be played—McEnroe vs. Lendl at noon and Sampras vs. Haas at 2 p.m. Saturday also offers visitors the chance for a meet and greet with Haas, Sampras and Lendl, with a limited amount of tickets at $25 per meet and greet session.
A doubles match between the Americans and the Europeans will take place Sunday at noon.
Tickets for the matches are available for purchase now starting at $125 for general admission seating or $200 for preferred seating. For more information about The Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic or to purchase tickets, please call 855-239-7531 (Press Option 2) or visit www.greenbrier.com/tennisclassic.