|The indoor tennis center serves as tournament headquarters|
Started in 1987 by Glenn Feldman to honor his grandfather, who is considered the founder of international junior tennis competition, the Eddie Herr will be undergoing several major changes this year.
Rick Workman, the longtime tournament director, is no longer involved with the tournament, which will now be managed by IMG.
“Our events division has grown enough so we can have staff dedicated to it, and make significant improvements,” said Blake Ulrich, Director of Events for IMG. "Rick actually has a full-time job out in California, so he'll be working out there."
Mark Dalzell, an IMG employee who has worked at the tournament for many years, will serve as tournament director.
“I have run our USTA tournaments, our in-house tournaments here on campus for 25, 26 years,” said Dalzell. “This year I’m also the director for the $10,000 (Futures) we’re having here a few weeks before.”
The most obvious change is the reduction in the draw sizes in both qualifying and in main draws in the younger age groups. In 2011, the 12s were a 128 draw, and the 14s were a 112 draw (with byes for the seeds in the first round). This year both the qualifying and main draws for those two age groups will be limited to 64.
The 16s and 18s will continue to be 64 draws, and as in 2011, the 18s ITF tournament will be played on clay.
|The clay courts will host the 18s tournament again in 2012|
“It’s always been a very, very competitive tournament,” said Dalzell. “But with the draw reduced from 128 to 64, we hope that increases the quality of play. Plus we want to give a better experience, where you’re not here day and night waiting for matches to be played. We can obviously administer the tournament a lot better with those reduced numbers.”
Mixed doubles, a competition unique to the Eddie Herr, will be dropped.
“I went back and looked at draws for a number of years, and outside of the first day of matches, it basically came down to attrition, with the people who are still here Friday and Saturday making it through to the final. We want to concentrate on the singles and doubles.”
With smaller draws and no mixed doubles to schedule around, Dazell and Ulrich hope to provide more time for other activities.
“We hope to expand things off-court to make the experience better,” Dazell said, mentioning a better player party and the new Prince innovation center, which should be finished by the start of this year’s tournament on November 23rd.
“We’ve resurfaced our courts, repainted our courts and we’ve put up new camera systems for live streaming capabilities,” Ulrich added. “That’s one of the things we’re really excited about for Eddie Herr. We tested it out last year and had great success, and this year we think we can do much, much better.”
Although Workman, a longtime protégé of Eddie Herr, is no longer involved in the event, IMG is not considering any change to the tournament’s name.
“We are fully committed to the name,” said Ulrich. “We are only interested in improving the experience for the players, and taking away one of the most historic assets of the tournament, the name, is not something we are looking to do.”
Entries for the tournament are now open through October 10th (October 30th for the 18s) at eddieherr.com, which has a new look.
“We will be going through a re-branding process before this year’s tournament,” said Ulrich. “So Eddie Herr will get a refreshed logo, a refreshed look, tone and feel that we’re very excited about as well.”