Players, Fans Enjoy Edwardsville Futures Pro Tourney
The 11th all-time rendition of the Edwardsville Futures USTA Pro Circuit event — the St. Louis area’s lone professional tennis tournament — ran successfully July 25-31. Though a record-breaking rainfall caused complications and three consecutive days to be moved indoors, the weather broke for the weekend when marquee matches took place at Edwardsville High School.
“It was kind of the best of times and the worst of times,” said Tournament Director David Lipe, who also works as the EHS boys’ and girls’ tennis coach. “The worst part was juggling schedules mid-week because of rain. That created a lot of stress, including having to switch the date for Diversity Day.
“During the weekend the weather was absolutely beautiful. We had bigger numbers than we’ve ever had before — a little over 400 people for our final, which is outstanding. A lot of times these guys are used to playing a final in front of like 5 or 10 people. We had really fantastic crowds Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
In the singles main draw title match, unseeded James Kent Trotter topped No. 8-seed Nathan Ponwith 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(4) to win the 2022 championship. In the doubles main draw, No. 2-seeded Makoto Ochi and Seita Watanabe picked up a straight-set victory of 7-6(1), 6-3 in the final.
Lipe noted one of the highlights of the week was local USTA St. Louis and SLUH standout Gus Tettamble making his pro debut in the doubles qualifier. Tettamble also participated in the singles qualifying draw. The St. Louis star is fresh off capturing the MSHSAA Class 3 singles title this past spring.
“That was exciting for a local kid once again to get a chance to play pro tennis,” Lipe said. “There have been several boys who have come through St. Louis, and this has been at times their only experience with pro tennis. In other cases, it’s their first experience with pro tennis. That was great.”
The week featured an array of fun activities beyond the tournament itself. Children of all ages took part in a free tennis clinic during Kids’ Night at the Futures. Diversity Day was comprised of a free kids’ tennis clinic, lunch and presentations recognizing the sport’s trailblazers.
Mitch ‘n’ Friends — a special-needs clinic for children with physical, emotional or intellectual special needs — was “phenomenal,” Lipe said. And Edwardsville Township residents received free admission as part of Fan Appreciation Day.
Sponsorship also reached an apex, as Lipe said “this was our best year ever; we had fantastic sponsors.”
“Our tournament continues to grow,” Lipe said. “Every year we just add a little something, tweak a little something. We had more people here than ever before. We continue to permeate the St. Louis sports market. The tennis community in most circles in St. Louis, throughout the Metro East and even beyond are more aware of our event than ever before. That equals more eyeballs on social media, more people in the seats and our reputation continues to grow amongst the players.”
Lipe said bringing concessions back into the fold after a three-year hiatus was a welcome addition for patrons. The Edwardsville Futures also featured ball kids again this year after not having any last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lipe received ample positive feedback from players. He credited Kirk Schlueter and Emily Cimarolli for their effort in making the 2022 Edwardsville Futures a hit.
“They’re there every single minute of every single day,” Lipe said. “Kirk managing the marketing and social media. Emily managing operations throughout the tournament. Those two young teachers do a fantastic job. We work very well together. We’ve been doing this for 11 years. That makes it a lot easier. We grow as a staff every year and do a little bit better. We’re looking forward to 2023.”
To read a previously published USTA St. Louis story containing additional details on the Edwardsville Futures tournament, click here.