In Southern California, to see some quality men's professional
tennis, a fan would usually have to travel to places like Orange
County or Manhattan Beach.
But beginning next week, tennis enthusiasts need not travel
further than McCambridge Park to take in some pro action.
The United States Tennis Assn. Tennis Championships of Burbank
kicks off Monday at the Burbank Tennis Center and features
world-ranked men's players.
The event is just one in a Challenger circuit where players earn
points that go toward their Assn. of Tennis Professionals world
The Burbank Challenger began in 1997 and ran for six very
successful years. During its tenure, the tournament attracted
talented players like Andre Agassi -- who won the tourney's first
singles championship -- Andy Roddick, Taylor Dent, Michael Chang and
However, last season the event wasn't held in Burbank because of
"I think the Burbank Challenger is the most prestigious and the
best tournament in the history of the Challenger series," said Tim
Stallard, president of Pro-Link Management, which promotes the
Challenger. "Just the amount of great players who have played in the
tournament is amazing."
Stallard said the players are also happy to be returning to the
Burbank Tennis Center.
"It s just a great tennis venue, and [BTC executive director]
Steve Starleaf always does a very good job putting on the
tournament," he said.
"We are looking forward to a great tournament with a lot of fine
Among the players who are scheduled to compete are Eagle Rock's
Cecil Mamiit, Paul Goldstein, Nicolas Lapenti, Brian Vahaly, Justin
Gimelstob, Kevin Kim, Brian Baker and Amer Delic.
Although the main draw of the tournament doesn't begin until
Monday -- with admission ranging from $7 to $20 -- there will be
tennis played this weekend, and admission is free. All day today and
Sunday, the BTC will be hosting qualifying rounds for the challenger
The singles and doubles finals of the Challenger will be Oct. 23.
A portion of the proceeds from the tournament will go to benefit
the Burbank Center for the Retarded. The BCR is a nonprofit agency
that provides day and extended-day programs for moderately to
severely developmentally disabled adults and children from Burbank
and surrounding areas.
Along with outfitting BCR individuals with sweatshirts, the
tournament also sponsors demonstration matches for some BCR members
on the final day of the tournament. In the past, pro athletes have
taken the court to play alongside the members.
"You know, Andy Roddick has a picture of him playing tennis with
one of the [BCR] kids when he was at the Burbank Challenger,"
Stallard said. "He was really touched by his experience with the