The Davis Cup battle between Venezuela and South Africa in 10 days was moved to the famed West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills due to the pandemic.
But despite the bold decision, it looks like the two-day affair will be without fans anyway. It no longer will be open to the general public because of financial issues involving Tennis South Africa. The intimate West Side Tennis club was the home of the U.S. Open from 1923 to 1977.
Tennis South Africa, the “host’’ nation, has chosen not to pay production costs to stage a tournament open to the public. Tickets went on sale a few weeks ago. The event will now be staged before 200 invitation-only patrons. West Side Tennis Club officials had hoped to draw 1,500 spectators each day.
South Africa’s squad is led by U.S. Open quarterfinalist, Lloyd Harris, who faces Alexander Zverev at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday. Harris knocked out Reilly Opelka in the fourth round.
Fees for permits and security and other logistics needed to be paid in order for the matches to be open to the public. The West Side Tennis Club, which was contacted by Tennis South Africa to host the event, had already invested $20,000 to have its Stadium Court resurfaced for the matches.
“We might be able to reverse this at the last minute if someone steps up financially,” said Jason Weir-Smith, tennis director at the West Side Tennis Club.
Harris might have been an attractive drawing card. He’s been one of the breakout stories of the Open with upsets of Olympic silver medalist Karen Khachanov and Wimbledon semifinalist and No. 7 seed Denis Shapovalov. Harris also beat Rafael Nadal this summer in Washington, D.C.
Also named to the South African team are Ruan Roelofse, Raven Klaasen, Phil Henning (University of Georgia player) and Siphos Montsi (University of Illinois).
The best-of-five match series between Venezuela and South Africa will be played Sept. 18 and 19.
The stadium last hosted the Davis Cup in 1959 when Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Neale Fraser led Australia to the title with a 3-2 victory over the United States team led by Alex Olmedo, Butch Buchholz and Barry MacKay.