If you’re a fan of fast-paced, top-tier professional tennis, the Citi Open tennis tournament at Rock Creek Park is probably already on your summer calendar.
But even casual fans – or just those who are simply looking for something new and fun to do – should consider catching a match or two this month. The marquee tennis event, scheduled for July 16-24, marks the 48th consecutive summer that the tournament will be played in Washington.
The Citi Open is the only elite Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour 500-level event held in the United States, and has featured a Women’s Tennis Association international tournament since 2011, making it one of only four tournaments in the country that include both men’s and women’s fields. Champions over the tournament’s history have included some of the most historic names in tennis, including Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and many more.
This year’s schedule boasts some of the most exciting talent in years, including Grigor Dimitrov. The 37th ranked player in the world, Dimitrov is looking to boost his ranking back into the Top 10 where he was in 2014, when he advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. The player is making his third appearance at the Citi Open this summer.
“It is a really great event,” Dimitrov tells On Tap. “For me, it is always my first event [of the season] back on the hard courts, and it is always nice to change things up. I have been very fortunate to get a lot of support at the DC event. They have great volunteers and great fans that make the week very special for me.”
The 25-year-old Dimitrov, who counts tennis legends Pete Sampras and Roger Federer among his role models in the sport, says he’s been working hard to improve his serve.
“I keep my specific tennis goals to myself, but obviously [my overall goal] is to compete with the top players in the game on a weekly basis,” he says. “I want to win the big events and help get my ranking back up to where it was two years ago.”
If Dimitrov performs well at the Citi Open, he can take a significant step toward achieving that goal. Citi Open Tournament Manager Keely O’Brien says the quality of the field is impressive. Among the returning players are top pros John Isner and Caroline Wozniacki, as well as Bob and Mike Bryan, the most accomplished doubles team in the history of tennis.
“We have a great field,” O’Brien says. “Having our tournament moved two weeks ahead so we weren’t back-to-back with the Olympics certainly has helped our player field.”
She says the tournament offers something for everyone – from the tennis aficionado to those who are simply curious.
“This year, we’ve come up with different activities and options for families, young professionals, tennis fans [and even]
non-tennis fans. The nice thing about tennis is if you are not enjoying the game in the center court, you have the ability to go [to] five other outer courts and see another match.”
O’Brien also notes that the tournament is a great place to enjoy the summer weather, as well as the hospitality aspect of the sporting event.
“If you want to get up from your seat, you can come into the tailgate and do that for the entire session.”
Head to Rock Creek Park from July 16-24 for the 2016 Citi Open.
Rock Creek Park Tennis Center: 5220 16th St. NW, DC; 202-722-5949; www.citiopentennis.com
Photo: Courtesy of Citi Open Tennis Tournament