The Avondale Club: dreamy Victorian setting of the birth of the Cincy Masters.
When you go to tournaments around the country for a few years (ok a lot of years in my case), inevitably there are a lot of people that you see repeatedly, both inside the tennis industry, and out. Sometimes you get lucky and make some friends. That's been the Cincy tennis story for me personally.
Our genius biomechanist Dr. Brian Gordon introduced me to Mike Kindred the first time I went. Mike is pretty much mister Cincy tennis in that he plays every day and knows everyone and I mean everyone that has anything to do with the sport in town.
Later I met his friend Pam Martin, also an avid player, and her three great kids. Her daughter Tess was a championship high school player and Hailey was a star Ohio junior who competed on the ITF international circuit.
Her son Logan is the only one who doesn't play but he and I have something else in common-we are both avid fly fishermen. Logan even ties his own flies. He and Pam have been to my place near Mt. Lassen in the great California north country and absolutely massacred the wild trout in the lower Sacramento river - don't worry they let them all go.
And to a great extent that's the story of the tournament - it's much more of a friends and family deal than Indian Wells, which is wonderful in its own many ways, but is more of a vacation destination experience.
Founded in 1880 the Cincinnati Tennis Club is among the oldest in the country.
Cincy as I've written several times before has a huge tennis tradition going back to the 19th century and literally the first years of the sport. (Click Here to view our video on the Secret Life of Cincinnati Tennis!)
The Cincinnati Tennis Club was founded in 1880. It's my kind of place with 10 outdoor hartru courts - something that is merely a dream in Northern California. And check out the picture of The Avondale Club, the site of the first event that became the Cincinnati masters in 1899.
I don't know the numbers but some huge percentage of the fans at Cincy are from Cincy. There is a hometown feeling to the event. It reminds me of going with my parents to watch Double A baseball when I was a kid and how the fans really got behind the players they liked. And weren't adverse to letting those they didn't like as much know about it either.
Except the Cincinnati Masters isn't exactly Double A baseball. It's the best players in the world in the final weeks leading up to the Open. The premier event in the road. And Cincy has all of the players, including the Williams sisters, who have strong reasons for no longer playing at Indian Wells.
The center stadium court at the Cincy Masters.
The stadium is intimate, and the facilities are in a continual state of improvement, but it's not even close to the Open in terms of scale or amenities-unless the gigantic amusement park next door appeals to you in the humid Midwest summer.
And there is nothing like the resort environment of the desert. It's something about the people and the atmosphere that make people comfortable there. And you know what? The players feel the same way about Cincy as I do. They are constantly talking about how it's a favored stop and how well they are treated.
There is one incredible French restaurant in downtown Cincy, Jean Robert's. I've written about it before. Every year he cooks a dinner for the high rolling among the sponsors and organizers and the elite players. Federer is a fan of the food.
I'll take the Cincy Masters over the huge amusement park across the street.
The amazing thing is they remember us at jean Robert's every year. The staff are by in large huge tennis fans there and when we go in we end up talking about tennis. To be honest, often that's the last thing I want to talk about at dinner-but again it's the Cincinnati friendly thing.
So why the personal endorsements? Because I know that a lot of people who subscribe to Tennisplayer will be able to appreciate what I am saying. Everyone should go to a master's event once a year. If you haven't been to one, Cincy is a great choice. And if you have been to Cincy before, that's still true.