By Karl Jones
For 8 days Center Court at Red Rock Country Club represented everything that is great about our tennis community. The Lexus of Las Vegas Open $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit tournament brought players from all over the world.
Battling it out in front of her home town crowd was Asia Muhammad, surrounded by her coach, family, friends and supporters. Pouring their hearts out - were WTA tour professional women competing for the Lexus of Las Vegas Open $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit title. International tennis figures Gil Reyes and Darren Cahill came out to support Adidas player and No. 3 seed Sorana Cirstea who lost in the final to champion Varvara Lepchenko.
"Thanks to the efforts of Tournament Directors Tyler Weekes and Jordan Butler and their tournament committee Rob Wilner, Jessica Hirshon, Mike Coppenhaver and Chris Painter, professional tennis is back in Las Vegas in a big way!," said Ryan Wolfington Executive Director of USTA-Nevada. "The tennis community really came together to collectively make this event possible one captain, player, and volunteer at a time."
Consider the sponsors were mostly tennis players and supporters including the Title Sponsor Lee Butler with Lexus of Las Vegas, Dr. Jediah Jones Hand Surgery Specialist of Nevada, Rob Weisbord & CW Las Vegas. Other sponsors included NV Energy, Cox Communications, Wirtz Beverage, Ketel One Vodka & Amstel Light, Volkl Tennis, Internet Marketing Inc. (IMI), Raymond James - Dan Jackson, State Farm - Kate Lowe, Agent Atleta, CourtThink, USTA- Nevada, Marquis & Aurbach, Ryan Wolfington, Vic Braden Tennis College, Allstate - Dwain Frasier, Popcorn Girl, Realty One - Marcy Saxe, Realtor, Northern Trust, Attorney - Gregory Smith, Massage Advantage - Glenn Alex, Faux Law Group, Southern Wine & Spirits (Activate Water), Women's Specialty Care - Dr. Keith Brill, Ken & Monice Campbell, Tanya Photography, International Tennis Centre - ITC, Pureform 1000, American Shooters, Dr. Jeff Ng, Primerica , Attorney Galen Schutt, Jason Straus at LAVO.
Former UNLV rebel Kristina Nedeltcheva, Gabrielle Smith and Sarah Toti (who just got a full scholarship to play for Tennessee) all made it into the qualification draw, with Toti and Smith winning their first rounds!
Semifinals Saturday included the USTA-Nevada ladies league luncheon which helped raise over $2,000 for USTA-Nevada adult tennis programs thanks to Mary Maragos's hard work and items donated from interns Dillon Berkabile and Edgardo Ureta. Vegas pros Adolph Huddleston, Henner and Elena Nehles, Michelle Domonico, Hennessy Foundation's Hilliary Heard and UNLV's Owen Hambrook supported the event. Entertainment was provided by crooner Alec Christofer.