Tennis is a sport that has been played since the 12th century in various shapes and forms. The game has evolved so much in this time. These days it’s considered to be one of the most financially rewarding and technologically advanced sports around.
While some of the most famous tournaments on a tennis calendar are truly iconic and have stood the test of time, many great tournaments have slowly descended from our memories. In this article, we shall take a look at such seven long-forgotten tennis tournaments.
The Eurocard Open: Forgotten Indoor Masters
The Eurocard Open was an ATP Masters event held in Stuttgart between 1990 and 2001 except for 1995. That year it was played twice, once in Stuttgart in February and then once again in October but this time at Essen. It was in the ATP Championship Series for its first six editions, ATP Super 9 event for the next four years and a Tennis Masters Series event for the last two years of its existence.
Many top players participated at the event over the years including Ivan Lendl, Goran Ivanišević, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas. From 1990 to 1997 the tournament was played on the indoor carpets but from 1998 onwards it was changed to indoor hardcourts.
The tournament stuck with its best of five sets final format throughout its history. The tournament came to a stop once Becker retired and the influence of German tennis decreased on tour. It was eventually replaced by Madrid considering the growing powers of Spain in the circuit.
Tournoi de Quebec: Big Event in Small City
In what was the last event to be played on indoor carpet (read why they stopped playing tennis on carpet here), this event was a huge hit amongst the players over the years. Tournoi de Quebec was a WTA event held in Canada from 1993 to 2018.
Quebec as a city always hosted this Tier III event as if it was a huge deal. The crowds always filled the stadium and many emerging superstars played at the event. Venus Williams, Lindsay Devenport, Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova are just some of the big names to have played at the event.
But with time the crowds started getting smaller. The event used to be held in November and it was an ideal time for many players to get some extra points before the end of the season when the season was longer. But with the season getting shorter and most of the events at the same time happening in Asia, the event lost its sheen.
The event changed ownership three times and its dates were brought forward to September but to no avail. The tennis Canada has accepted that the event has no future beyond 2019.
Dutch Open: Tournament With a 100+ Year History
Originally known as the Netherlands Internationals Championships, this was a tournament that was played on the outdoor clay courts. It changed home three times moving from Hilversum to Amsterdam first and then to Amersfoort. The tournament started in 1898 and last till 2008.
The event had both the men’s and women’s championships at various points of time.
It was part of the Grand Prix Circuit till 1989 and then it became part of the ATP tour. Balázs Taróczy, the great player from Hungary won the event for a record six times. Guillermo Vilas, Carlos Moya and Novak Djokovic are some of the other famous players that have played at the tournament.
Incidentally, Djokovic’s family eventually bought the licence of the event from the organisers of the Dutch Open. The tournament was then moved to Belgrade where it’s now known as the Serbia Open.
South African Championships: Once as Prestigious as a Grand Slam
Also known as the South African Open in its final years this was a tournament that started in the pre-modern era with its first edition being played back in 1891. It had been hosted in eight different cities in South Africa and had men’s and women’s categories simultaneously. It held the status of a Grand Prix Super Series which would be equivalent to a Masters 1000 event at present.
There were even suggestions back in the 1970s and 1980s that the event could replace the Australian Open as one of the Grand Slams. Many top players didn’t even attend the first major of the year when it was struggling for popularity.
But the South African Championships lost its vigour with time and had to endure multiple suspensions/closures due to apartheid boycott, corruption scandals and financial difficulties. The tournament finally ended in 2011 as a lower-tier event. As recently as last month Roger Federer expressed his desire to revive this great tournament.
U.S. Pro Indoor: A Grand Prix Super Series Runs into Financial Woes
The US Pro Indoor series was an annual indoor hard court tournament played in Philadephia. It was part of the World Tennis Championship Circuit event initially before it became a Grand Prix Tour. Some of the biggest names of not only the US game but the world sport were multiple winners at this event.
Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker are just some of the names to have played at the event. This event was the first career title that Pete Sampras had won as an 18-year-old.
But multiple sponsors changed hands at the event with the prize money going down every few years. The glamour of the event started fading and it came back from the brink a few times before finally going down in 1998.
WCT Finals: The Historic Season-Ending Championships
The WCT Finals was a men’s tennis tournament that served as the season-ending event for the world tennis championships from 1971 to 1989. It was played on the indoor carpet courts in Dallas, USA. It was also the tournament that began the tradition of using electronic line calling in its 1974 edition.
The final of its second edition in 1972 was between Ken Rosewell and Rod Laver. The match came to be known as “the match that made tennis in the United States”. It had a record-breaking television viewership of 23 million and increased the popularity of the sport multifold. John McNroe was the most successful player at the event winning it five times.
With time three similar events in Rome & Naples in Italy and Detroit in the USA were introduced and the event was finally abolished in 1989.
WTA Indian Open: Once Biggest Women’s Event in South East Asia
The WTA Indian Open was a women’s tennis tournament played on the outdoor hard courts from 2003 to 2018. The event has taken place in four different Indian cities, Hyderabad, Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai. In 2008, it was classified as a tier II event with prize money of USD 600000. With this it became the biggest event in the region of South & South-East Asia.
Likes of Serena Williams, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka have been winners at this event. But sponsorship issues and other problems meant that the event kept shifting venues and its status in the events hierarchy kept going down.
It did not take place for three years from 2013 to 2016. WTA Indian Open did make a brief comeback as a WTA 125k event in 2017 for two years. It was abolished after Larsen & Toubro did not renew its sponsorship after the 2018 edition.