US Men’s Clay Court Championships

The US Men’s Clay Court Championships has a long and illustrious history, and since 1910 has been attracting the top clay court specialists in the game. One of the last ATP International Series events to be held on clay, the 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships venue will be at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas from 6 – 12 April.The prize money offered at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship is set to top $500,000!

In the US Men’s Clay Court Championship’s 98-year history, top-ranked players like Bill Tilden, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick have played at venues from Orlando, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina to Indianapolis in the State of Indiana. For seven years the Westside Tennis Club in Houston, Texas has played host to the event.

In May 2007 the USTA (United States Tennis Association) announced that the River Oaks Country Club in River Oaks, Houston, Texas will be the new venue for the Championships. In previous years all the venues sported the same clay court surface – green clay, or Har-Tru “American Clay” as it is commonly known in the States. The 2009 US Men’s Clay Court Championships was held of red clay for a second time.

The US Men’s Clay Court Championships is the second-longest running USTA tournament in the States – only the US Open has more years behind it. The Championships is owned and promoted by the USTA, a non-profit organisation which operates the US Open and 94 other pro-circuit events throughout the States. USTA is also responsible for selecting the teams to represent the United States of America at the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Although the Championships is operated by the USTA, it is part of the world-wide ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Tour. The ATP was formed in the early 70s to protect the interests of professional men’s tennis players. Each and every tournament on the ATP Tour offers ranking points to the top performers. These ranking points are tallied up on a regular basis and determine the top tennis players in the world.

The trend at the Clay Court Championships has been one player who has dominated. In the 1970s American great, Jimmy Connors lifted the title on four occasions and was runner-up twice. In the 1980s it was the chance of Andres Gomes. He won the title in 1984 & 1986 and was runner-up in ’83 and ’85. The 1990s offered up a mixed bag of champions, with no one player dominating, apart from Michael Chang, who won in 1997 and was runner-up to Jim Courier in 1998. In the 21st Century the hard-hitting Andy Roddick has claimed the clay court crown. He won in 2001, 2002 and 2005 and was runner-up in 2003 and 2004.

The 2008 US Men’s Clay Court Championship winner was Marcel Granollers from Spain who managed to pull of a surprising 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 defeat over US player James Blake to claim his very first ATP title.