The annual WTA tour stop in Manhattan Beach appears to be staying put.
Management of the Manhattan Country Club and the owners of the women's tennis tournament held there each August are close to agreement on a four-year deal to keep the event at the cozy facility, both sides said Wednesday.
Tournament director Gus Sampras--vice president of the tennis division for International Management Group, which owns the tournament--said the deal was "85-90%" complete and probably will be in place within the next month.
The news is another blow for the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is building a state-of-the-art tennis complex as part of its Home Depot National Training Center in Carson and hopes to lure ATP and WTA events to the facility.
Last month, the promoters of the ATP's annual tour stop at UCLA said they have 80 years left on a 99-year agreement to keep their men's tournament at the school and have no intention of breaking it.
Sampras, older brother of tennis star Pete Sampras, said IMG had talked with AEG about moving the Manhattan Beach event but preferred to remain.
"Our intention is to stay where we are," Sampras said. "We enjoy our partnership with the Manhattan Country Club. It's a great, intimate event and it's appealing to us to keep it in this community."
The Manhattan Country Club, with a stadium that seats about 5,300, began hosting the event in 1983, when it moved from the Forum, and the tournament has enjoyed a rich history, attracting a strong field each summer. The draw for this year's event, the JPMorgan Chase Open taking place this week, included five of the world's top 10 players, among them top-ranked Serena Williams.
Previous champions of the U.S. Open warmup include Williams, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport.
Davenport, a three-time winner of the event and the defending champion, said the players enjoy the venue's convenience and its prime location, within steps of shopping and a resort hotel and only about a mile from the beach.
The AEG facility, scheduled to open next summer at Cal State Dominguez Hills, will include a stadium expandable to 13,000 seats.
"The problem is, you move it to a huge stadium, where there's tons of courts, and a lot of times you get half-full or quarter-full stands watching matches because the stadium is almost too big," Davenport said. "Here, the stadium's just about a perfect size for a women's tennis tournament ... and you really get the crowd into it.
"I like it here. I hope they stay."
Andrew Scott, general manager of the Manhattan Country Club, said he did not feel threatened by AEG.
"There are disadvantages to the other location that I don't think can be immediately mitigated, if ever," he said of the Carson site. "So we're confident that our location is the best location for this event.
"The location as well as what we have to offer. I think there's really a distinct difference between competing at a venue of this nature and competing at a more explicit commercial venue at perhaps a less desirable location."
Jennifer Capriati, asked what she'd think of a 24-hour tennis channel on TV: "I think it would be good, as long as they focus on the good things and the positive things and don't try to make up stories. Keep it to the tennis and the good things people should hear about."
Would she watch? "Maybe," she said. "If I was really bored."