1899; 118 years ago (1899)
Cincinnati United States
Lindner Family Tennis Center
Hard (DecoTurf), Outdoors
The Cincinnati Masters (currently sponsored by the Western & Southern Financial Group and called the Western & Southern Open) is an annual outdoor hardcourt tennis event held in Mason, Ohio near Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The event started on September 18, 1899 and is the oldest tennis tournament in the United States played in its original city.
The tournament is the second largest summer tennis event in the U.S. after the U.S. Open, as its men's portion is one of nine elite Masters 1000 tournaments on the ATP World Tour and its women's event is one of five Premier 5 events on the WTA Tour.
The tournament was started in 1899 as the Cincinnati Open and was renamed in 1901 to Tri-State Tennis Tournament, a name it would keep until 1969 (it would later be known by several other names, including ATP Championships), and would eventually grow into the tournament now held in Mason. The original tournament was held at the Avondale Athletic Club, which sat on property that is now Xavier University, and would later be moved to several various locations due to changes in tournament management and surfaces. The first tournament in 1899 was played on clay courts (described in a newspaper article of the time as "crushed brick dust"), and the event was mostly played on clay until 1979 when it switched permanently to hardcourts.
In 1903, the tournament was moved to the Cincinnati Tennis Club, where it was primarily held until 1972. In 1974, the tournament was nearly dropped from the tennis calendar but moved at the last moment to the Cincinnati Convention Center, where it was played indoors and, for the first time since 1919, without a women's draw. In 1975, the tournament moved to the Coney Island amusement park on the Ohio River, and the tournament began to gain momentum again.
In 1975, the tournament reins were taken by Paul M. Flory, then an executive with Procter & Gamble. During his tenure, the tournament enriched its considerable heritage while donating millions of dollars to charity: to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Tennis for City Youth (a program to teach tennis to inner-city children), and to The Charles M. Barrett Cancer Center at University Hospital. Flory was honored with the ATP's Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, enshrinement in the USTA/Midwest Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame, and was named one of the Great Living Cincinnatians by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. Flory began his involvement as a volunteer with the tournament in the late 1960s and remained a volunteer until the end, never accepting a salary. Flory, who was born on May 31, 1922, died on January 31, 2013, remaining tournament chairman until his final day.
Between 1978 and 1989 it was a major tournament of the men's Grand Prix Tennis Tour and part of the Grand Prix Super Series.
In 1979 the tournament moved to Mason where a permanent stadium was built and the surface was changed from Har-Tru clay to hardcourt (DecoTurf II.). Later, two other permanent stadia were constructed, making the Cincinnati Masters the only tennis tournament outside the four Grand Slam events with three stadium courts – Center Court, Grandstand Court and Court 3. A new Court 3 was built in 2010, increasing the number of stadium courts to four, with the existing Court 3 renamed Court 9. The women's competition was reinstated in 1988 for one year, and then again in 2004 when the organizers, with the help of the Octagon sports agency, bought the Croatian Bol Ladies Open and moved it to Cincinnati.
In August 2008, the men's tournament was sold to the United States Tennis Association, the owners of the US Open.
In 2002, the tournament was sponsored for the first time by Western & Southern Financial Group, with the company continuing its sponsorship until at least 2016. In 2011 the men's and women's tournaments were played at the same time making a joint tournament. As a result, the name of the competition changed from the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open to the Western & Southern Open.
The tournament is played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio. It features a total of 16 courts, including four tennis stadiums—Center Court, Grandstand Court, Court 3, and Court 9 (formerly known as Court 3)—and is the only venue other than Grand Slams with more than two permanent stadiums.
In 2009, the tennis tournament announced a $10 million upgrade to the facility, including the construction of a 52,000 square feet (4,800 m2) West Building to add space for players, media and fans. The new building, which opened in mid-2010 and is named the Paul M. Flory Player Center, is approximately twice as high as the previous West Building, rising 85 feet (26 m) above ground level and 97 feet (30 m) above the court level.
In 2010, the tournament announced plans to expand the grounds by more than 40% and add six new courts. One of those courts is Court 3, which serves as the third television court, while another court has seating for 2,500. A new ticket office, entry plaza, food court and exhibit areas also were added.
The venue hosts additional events including the Atlantic 10 Conference Tennis Championships and the Ohio Athletic Conference Tennis Championships, and has hosted an Association of Volleyball Professionals event, concerts, charitable events, and numerous regional and national high school tennis events.
List of champions
The following is the list of champions of the Cincinnati Masters.
Note: The 1979 men's competition was a non-Grand Prix event not bringing any ATP ranking points although named "ATP Championships", run as a rival event to US Pro Championships in Boston.