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WTA Event Prepares For Tough Date Between Wimbledon, London Olympics

WTA Event Prepares For Tough Date Between Wimbledon, London Olympics

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Olympics forced Mercury Insurance Open to move from usual spot in early August
WTA Mercury Insurance Open Exec Dir Steve Simon “knows the event scheduled for later this summer at the La Costa Resort & Spa is in a tough spot this year,” with Wimbledon set for two weeks prior to the event and the London Olympics scheduled to begin two weeks after, according to Tod Leonard of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Simon said, “I don’t see a plus side. It’s doing what we have to do to manage the dates in a unique situation because of the Olympics schedule. We’re making the best of it.” The Olympics “forced the Mercury to move up from its usual spot in early August,” and the main singles draw this year “will be 28 players, halved from 56 last year.” But seven of the 20 players “currently committed to the tournament … are ranked in the top 30.” Off the court, there will be “some noticeable changes by the organization running the event for the first time.” Desert Champions, the management group “that operates the highly successful BNP Paribas Open each spring in Indian Wells, has taken over and will begin to put its stamp on the tournament.” Among the additions this year “is an upgraded premier hospitality center, better practice-area viewing, cheaper food prices, and a new event, the Mercury Insurance Open Mixed Doubles Challenge that will feature local teaching pros and a purse of $5,000.” Simon said, “We weren’t going to stay away because it’s a tough year. There’s an awful lot we can do this year. We’re excited about it. We’re going to learn a lot this year and you’ll see even more from us in ’13” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/7). Simon also said, “I think you have to respect and honor the Olympics; they are something very, very special. I know they are very, very special to the athletes.” In California, Jay Paris wrote the WTA event “could be on to something with Simon and crew.” While it is his first year at the position, he “built a solid reputation” at the BNP Paribas Open. Simon said, “We're sticking our toe in the water here. We're going to try and develop those types of events that engage people and allow the community to put its arms around this.” He added, "To say we are excited about it is probably an understatement. I think this event has just tremendous potential. … We hope the fans notice a lot of things. We hope they notice as they go through the site that we are trying to improve the experience” (NCTIMES.com, 6/7).