HBtennis1004 (ran 10-4-01)

Tourney eyes Manhattan Open status

by Robb Fulcher

Adam Burt strikes a tennis trophy pose. Photo by Robb Fulcher

When beach cities residents talk tennis, their attention is often drawn north to Manhattan Beach, which boasts the the women’s professional tour Classic at the Manhattan Country Club, and a city-sponsored open that draws hundreds of players including some among the top 200 in the world.

But if Hermosa tennis instructor Adam Burt has his way, the city to the south will soon host an open tournament rivaling Manhattan’s.

With the fall installment of his second annual Hermosa Beach Open just around the corner, Burt is learning what it will take to grow the tournament to Manhattan Open proportions within about three years.

"It’s simple," he said. "You get more sponsors, you offer more prize money, you get more players, especially in the open class. Then you get more spectators to watch it, and the more notoriety it gets, the more people want to play it."

Without any money for promotion, Burt has attracted 80 participants to the tournament, which takes place over the next two weekends on courts behind the city skate park and next to Clark Field.

"It went well last year, but we only had one sponsor. We’re getting more this year, and better T-shirts," he said.

"We are also going to be offering prize money for the open winner," he said. "You better put down that it will be small. But we’ll be building on it."

He also plans to add a children’s division in the tournament’s spring installment next June.

Burt said he’s not trying to stir a rivalry with Manhattan Beach, but to create another top-notch event for the scores of tennis players in the area. But he did scoff at Manhattan’s no-add scoring, which eliminates repeated deuces to speed up the matches.

"We will never have no-add scoring," he said. "It’s just not traditional, it changes the entire strategy."

To promote the upcoming tourney, Burt got a listing on the city marquee at the corner of Pier Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway, and toted fliers to the recreation department and to "every club and tennis facility in the area, twice." He hopes that increased sponsorship will help him carry the message beginning this weekend.

"I want to put a banner up here," said Burt, 35, as he stood drinking an instant protein lunch at the sun-splashed courts behind the skate park with Winston, his 6-year-old Doberman-Shepherd dog who, by the way, is an undefeated champion canine wrestler.

"He’ll wrestle any dog," Burt said. "He won’t fight. If a dog snarls or growls at him, he’ll just walk away."

Competitive, but sporting. Winston would make a good old-school tennis player.

The Hermosa Beach Open 2001 Fall Tennis championships are Oct. 6-7 and Oct. 13-14 on city courts behind the skate park at Pier and Ardmore avenues and at Clark Field on Valley Drive south of Pier. Possible late registrants may be accepted to replace dropouts. Call 798-3939.