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L. A. Tennis Event to Lose Status on New Tour

January 14, 1989|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

The Assn. of Tennis Professionals, the group of men's tennis players who are beginning their own tour in 1990, will announce Thursday its first-year tournament schedule. Promoter Bob Kramer, who runs the Volvo/Los Angeles event, is prepared for the worst.

Although ATP officials have refused to reveal details of the 1990 schedule, the Los Angeles event has been dropped from the Super Series status under the existing Grand Prix format, the highest tournament level, and would be an open-week event in the new ATP tour.

Tournaments scheduled during open weeks are permitted to offer guarantees to attract players. Top 10 players are not required to play in any of these lesser tournaments.

Kramer said the Los Angeles tournament applied for Championship Series status, the equivalent of the Super Series, and increased its prize money to more than $1 million, but the ATP's tournament application committee turned it down.

Instead, the committee suggested that Kramer's tournament accept the open week designation in the lower World Series status and offered the week of July 30 for the event. Kramer isn't sure what his tournament will do, but he said its future will be decided Tuesday at a board meeting.

One of the options, Kramer said, is not having a tournament at all.

"That's a possibility," he said. "Then we're not going to be on the ATP tour. What's the alternative? Maybe there will be some kind of circuit of events that weren't able to be accepted on the ATP tour."

The 30 Super Series events in 1989 will be trimmed to 19 Championship Series events in 1990.

"Some people are going to be out," Kramer said.

However, some remain in. Charlie Pasarell, tournament director of Newsweek Champions Cup at Indian Wells, will be one of them.

On the 1990 tour, the Newsweek event will be a Championship Series event with prize money in excess of $1 million and will be played March 5-11 at Hyatt Grand Champions.

"We're very happy with the way things turned out for us," Pasarell said. "Those are the dates we wanted."

Brad Harris, an aide to Hamilton Jordan, the ATP's chief executive officer, said that no tournament directors should be upset if their status is altered in 1990.

"A week at any level in the ATP tour is far more valuable than a week at any type level in the existing Nabisco Grand Prix tour," Harris said.

Kramer isn't as sure. He fears that the tournament, which is held at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the UCLA campus, may have seen its better days. Kramer and his father, Jack, have long been outspoken against the payments of appearance fees, which they know would be vital for the tournament's survival in 1990 in order to attract any top players to the field.

"For us to get involved in something like appearance fees, it does not go along with our previous philosophy," Bob Kramer said.

The ATP schedule permits 3 open week events during the same week. The July 30 slot offered to Kramer also has 2 tournaments in Europe, he said. Kramer is also concerned that, since it is an open week, it could be a good time for top players to play in exhibitions, if their management firms decide to do so. Such an occurrence would make it even harder to get top 10 players, Kramer believes.

The Los Angeles tournament, which is run under the auspices of the Southern California Tennis Assn., helps raise money for projects that include youth tennis. The event's contracts with Volvo and Unocal, its 2 major sponsors, expire in 1990.

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