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In December 2020, Universal Tennis announced the UTR Pro Tennis Tour launch, an innovative new tour providing players with valuable guaranteed matches and prize money. With a three-year investment of $20 million, the blueprint mapped out more than 150 worldwide annual events.
During a time where pro tournaments were being canceled around the world, Universal Tennis stepped in to fill the need and in addition, even post-pandemic, broadening the opportunities. The PTT Tour continues to offer solutions for players pursuing their pro dreams.
Players all over the globe including Aussies Li Tu and Marc Polmans and Americans Reese Brantmeier and Katie Volynets have benefited from the competitive matchplay and financial support that the UTR PTT provides. Every PTT event offers 4-5 matches and a minimum of $20,000 in prize money with an earnings guarantee for every participant.
At the halfway mark of 2021, there have been 74 PTT events in 17 cities across nine countries: the United States, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Croatia. With interest rapidly expanding, new events are being held in three more nations this month: Serbia, Slovenia, and Germany. So far, 1,088 players representing 66 nations have competed for $1.5 million in prize money.
- 74 global events
- 17 cities
- 9 countries
- Over 1,000 unique players from 66 nations
- $1.5 million in prize money
One player who has significantly benefited from the PTT is Tu. The 25-year-old Australian turned heads when he won three PTT titles in July 2020 in Adelaide and then won three more at the end of the year.
“I was genuinely enjoying myself. I won the series in Adelaide, but I really didn’t care whether I won or lost when I was competing,” Tu told Universal Tennis. “It was fun to just be back out there. Before, I used to think too much about the expectations of being the favorite and having this pressure on you to win and this idea that if I don’t win, I’ll look bad.”
Tu walked away from his pro dreams twice and took up coaching before giving it another shot in 2020. Now he’s got his sights set on a pro career and thanks to Universal Tennis he’s well on his way. The PTT has created opportunities in every nook and cranny of the globe, even during the pandemic. With the innovative format, the affordability of hosting, and the set financial commitment, Universal Tennis has rapidly grown the game.
Tu’s win streaks got him noticed by Tennis Australia and he was awarded wild cards into the ATP 250 Melbourne 2 and the 2021 Australian Open, where he pushed Feliciano Lopez to four sets. He has picked up five more PTT Tour titles so far in 2021, complete with a final win over Polmans (a regular fixture inside of the ATP’s Top 200) in Bendigo in January.
At this year’s Wimbledon, 14 PTT players appeared in the pro and junior events with Polmans and Volynets both qualifying for the main draw. Polmans would beat Lu Yen-hsun, marking his first main-draw Wimbledon victory.
Brantmeier, a 16-year-old from Wisconsin, made a run to the PTT Naples Women’s $25K Clay 1 final in January. In the following weeks, she went 13-2 on the ITF Junior Circuit, winning a Grade 5 title and reaching a Grade 1 final in San Diego. She would reach the third round of junior Wimbledon.
The PTT is open to players with a UTR Ranking of 200-2000, and wild cards can be awarded to those players with a UTR Ranking of 1-199 or above 2000. Every PTT event creates matchplay opportunities for up-and-coming, collegiate, and pro players thanks to a unique round-robin format. At every event, a group round-robin stage is followed by a World Cup-style playoff, guaranteeing multiple matches and counting all results towards the UTR Rating, the most accurate rating system in tennis.
Two of the biggest problems in professional tennis, particularly for lower-ranked players and those just starting, is getting competitive matches and earning money. In the first six months of 2021, thousands of matches were completed, providing athletes like Tu, Polmans, Volynets, and Brantmeier with more playing opportunities per event which creates much-needed match experience while allowing them to earn a living.
With more events being added in eager new host countries, there’s no limit to how large the UTR Pro Tennis Tour can grow and how many players will benefit from all that it offers.