MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Professional tennis will no longer have a Memphis stop, according to Memphis sports writer Phil Stukenborg.
After 41 years, GF Sports is moving the Memphis Open, effectively ending the city's Association of Tennis Professionals event.
A source confirmed Stukenborg's report to WMC Action News 5's Andrew Douglas that the tour is leaving. That person said the tournament has been struggling to sell tickets due to a lack of stars in the tournament.
Tennis tournaments allow appearance fees, which lead to many players skipping tournaments like Memphis and playing in foreign tournaments that pay higher appearance fees.
The source said Racquet Club, where the tournament is played, charged a large fee for the event that also led to sinking profits and operating losses.
The Memphis Open has been played at the Racquet Club since 1976. It has brought some of tennis' biggest names to the Bluff City.
"I think it's a bummer for people who like tennis, because they won't get to see a big tournament like that," City Silo Executive Chef Will Byrd said.
Byrd said the tournament provided a boost for East Memphis businesses.
"We were always a lot busier," Byrd said. "A lot of good tennis players stayed nearby at the hotel and would walk over with their trainers."
The event is expected to move to New York for 2018.
Former tournament director Peter Levedevs said the move has been building for some time due to the lack of star power.