UTR Pro Tennis Tour helping to change the landscape in British tennis
The UTR Pro Tennis Tour is a welcome addition to the UK tennis landscape, with eight tournaments set to take place over the course of this year.
The first of those proved to be a huge success in Cardiff last week and two more are set to take place in London in late March.
With healthy prize money on offer and the standard of competition impressively high, the UTR Pro Tennis Tour has taken the success of its tournaments in America to Europe.
Since Univeral Tennis launched the tour in 2021, the UTR Pro Tennis Tour has hosted over 20,000 professional matches in 24 countries worldwide. Every event has at least $25K in financial commitment and the format offers its competitors 3-6 guaranteed matches and guaranteed prize money. The first half of the 2023 calendar will bring the total tour prize money to $9 million and events to over 460.
Universal Tennis has teamed up with respected coach and tournament organiser Barry Fulcher to add their backing to events on his already established Progress Tour, with the additional funds and expedite provided by the partnership ensuring the tournaments are run to a high quality.
Tennis365 sat down with Barry to look at Universal Tennis’ entry onto the UK tennis landscape in an exclusive interview.
Tell us about the UTR Pro Tennis Tour in the UK and how UTR have enhanced the tournaments.
BF: I’m speaking to you from a big event in Cardiff, the first UTR Pro Tennis Tour event in 2023 in the UK. I started the Progress Tour back in 2019 and we used the UTR Rating to underpin how we set up the draw. This new partnership was piloted in Norwich last year and on the back of that, we are running a further eight weeks of events that add up to a total of $250,000 of prize money coming into British tennis for these events. This a great addition to the British tennis landscape.
How important is top level competition for players?
BF: A bedrock of a successful tennis nation is providing tournaments for your players to play and that is what we have in the UK now. We have events like the UK Pro League and also a much healthier number of international events being hosted by the LTA that helps the British players earn additional funds and progress up the rankings.
What do you think about the idea of the UTR Pro Tennis Tour getting ATP and WTA ranking points for their events?
BF: At the moment, the ITF has a monopoly on this transitional level of events leading into the main tour, but a tour that ticks all the boxes in terms of integrity and player welfare could offer something to the game.
Tennis can be slow to adapt to new ideas at times, but the UTR Pro Tennis Tour feels like a great addition to the sport?
BF: Absolutely. The models of how this level of tournaments are run in the sport are based around politics and traditions and there is resistance at times when something new comes along and challenges that. Universal Tennis has a fresh approach to delivering these events in terms of how they partner with organisers such as myself, which will not only help to expand their offering, but ultimately help the sport to grow.
We spoke to you on Tennis365 about your Progress Tour back in 2021, so has it developed as you were hoping would?
BF: This has always been a passion project for me. It has changed a lot since the formative days. The initial driver was to provide more opportunities for British players to play and earn on home soil as there was an absence of that back then. The landscape has changed a lot since Covid and there are lots more events and tournaments on the agenda in the UK now, which is fantastic to see.
What comes next for the UTR Pro Tennis Tour in the UK?
We have put together a series of events that complement the wider tournament calendar in the UK and we have eight PTT events in total happening in 2023. The next couple are $50K events in London and Norwich, both of which should be fantastic. We have a busy schedule in terms of the prize money tour in the UK now and this new partnership with Universal Tennis is a great new addition to the British calendar.
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