WTA TOURNEY SLATED TO STAY IN BAY AREA

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NEW SITE AND SPONSOR FOR BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC?

Los Angeles’ Farmers Classic tennis tournament landed up in distant Columbia.

Similarly, San Jose’s SAP Open found its way to Brazil. And a while back there was talk of the BNP Paribas Open possibly going to the Middle East or China. Outsourcing American tennis tournaments has been a common and gut-wrenching theme for American tennis enthusiasts. The playing field seemed tilted.

But guess what? Thanks to the efforts of the IMG sports agency, there may be a reversal in this unfortunate trend. According to multiple sources, the WTA’s Bay Area summer tournament long known as the Bank of the West Classic – which was banished from Stanford because it had a commercial sponsor – may stay in Northern California after all.

The tournament, which began in 1971 and is the longest ongoing woman’s tourney in the world, may move 22 miles south to the new tennis complex at San Jose State University.

The move would maintain the event as an outdoor tournament and keep it close to its Silicon Valley and Peninsula fan base. The tourney may also boast a new, deep-pocket sponsor to replace the Bank of the West. According to sources, an investment fund with over $100 billion in assets that is based in the United Arab Emirates may step as the tourney’s new backer.

Nothing seems to be signed or sealed, but there could be an announcement in as soon as a week to 10 days from now. If that’s the case, the NorCal event would survive for now, though over the past eight years, four other tournaments – Carson in 2009, Los Angeles in 2012, and San Jose and San Diego in 2013 – have vanished from the California tennis landscape.

Stay tuned.

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