The LA Tennis Open (formerly the Countrywide Classic, and before that, the Mercedes-Benz Cup) is one of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) International Series events. This event occurs in Los Angeles, California every July, and players from all over the world come to Southern California to compete for over one million dollars in total prize money. After the US Open, this is one of the United States' biggest tennis events of the year.
The LA Tennis Open is an international event attended by the world's best men's tennis players. Past winners include Wayne Ferreira, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Michael Stich, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Ken Rosewall, Jack Kramer, and Fred Perry.
The tournament began in 1927. At that time, the cup included men's and women's singles and men's doubles. In 1975, women's singles was dropped from the competition as it was taken over by the ATP, which is the organization for male professional tennis players. Today, the top 32 men's singles players and 16 men's doubles teams come to the LA Tennis Open to compete.
The competition is played on hard courts at UCLA's Los Angeles Tennis Center. The center opened in 1984, just in time to host the 1984 Olympic Games tennis competition and the NCAA Women's Tennis Competition in that same year. It has eight hard-surface courts with a 5,800-seat grandstand surrounding the three main courts. At its total capacity, over 10,000 tickets are available for events.
The LA Tennis Open is the first all-men's event in the US Open Series. Created in 2004, the US Open Series created a cohesive tennis season in the United States. It combines 10 summer hard-court tournaments that begin after Wimbledon and run until the US Open.
The LA Tennis Open is put on by the non-profit Southern California Section of the United States Tennis Association and by UCLA. The proceeds from the ticket sales benefit the many grassroots programs put on by the USTA Southern California Section to promote the game of tennis and provide quality tennis programs for people of all ages. They offer after-school programs for children, free coaching workshops, free seminars for students seeking college tennis scholarships, and even a wheelchair tennis program.
Every LA Tennis Open competition is not complete without 'A Night at the Net.' This features a doubles match in which a celebrity like Robin Williams or Dustin Hoffman is paired with a professional. The proceeds from ticket sales go to MusiCares, and this is the only professional-celebrity match in tennis.
The LA Tennis Open is one of the most prestigious events on the ATP tour. Players from around the globe come to compete for a hefty purse and the honor of winning such a prominent event. It is the longest running annual sporting event in Los Angeles, California to date. The fast-paced tennis on hard courts and sizeable prize make the LA Tennis Open one of the most exciting competitions in tennis.