The Seattle Tennis Club is gearing up for a summer of tournaments, the largest of which is the 128th Washington State Open.
The WSO has been taking place annually since the Seattle Tennis Club formed in 1890, and draws in around 500 people to the private club annually.
It’s the one time each year when the Seattle Tennis Club in Madison Park opens to the public, and is billed as an unsanctioned part of Seafair.
“It’s an opportunity for our membership to show off our great club and our beautiful scenery,” said director of tennis Andrew Minnelli.
Competitors come from all around for the six-day tournament, the last in a national circuit for the United States Tennis Association. Seattle Tennis Club members also get in on the action.
Minnelli said competitors and spectators get great views of Lake Washington and Seafair’s traditional showing of Blue Angels, the roar of the jets an added challenge for tennis players.
The Seattle Tennis Club has 10 outdoor and six indoor hard courts that will be used for tournament play during the Washington State Open July 31 to Aug. 5, Minnelli said. The club also has three clay courts, but those won’t be used for the WSO.
“We’ve got a lot of land here for everybody to get what they need before they jump on the court,” Minnelli said.
At 128 years old, the Seattle Tennis Club has refined the organizing of the WSO and its other annual tournaments.
“I think maybe the number-one challenge is Mother Nature,” Minnelli said. “Knock on wood, we’ve been OK.”
Rain makes it dangerous to play outside, and would slow play down, with only the six indoor courts open. There was no rain last year, the tennis director said, but smoke from regional wildfires had a negative impact on air quality.
This year’s Washington State Open has $32,000 in prize money. There are men’s singles and doubles (35,45-85), women’s singles (35,45, 55-85) and doubles (35, 45-85) and mixed doubles divisions. Entries open on Tuesday, May 29, and competitors must be USTA members. Go to washingtonstateopen.com/compete to enter.
Minnelli said the men’s draw is much larger, but there is comparable talent on both sides. The only change for the WSO in the past year was equalizing the payout between men and women competitors.
“And that’s something the club can really feel good about,” Minnelli said. “Pro tennis does it at the grand slam level, so why not us?”
The Seattle Tennis Club is located along Lake Washington at 922 McGilvra Boulevard E., which means it’s hard for the member-owned club to increase, Minelli said. There is a healthy waitlist.
“It’s a full country club experience, I would say,” he said, “and it’s very much a family experience.”
Find out more at seattletennisclub.org.