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Caesars Tennis Classic at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City A Smash Hit

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Over seven thousand spectators turned out for the Caesars Tennis Classic at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City  SBoardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Photo by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photographyaturday night, setting a new attendance record for a tennis event in the resort.

Harrah’s Entertainment and Caesars Atlantic City  sponsored the event, which was produced by sports marketing company StarGames. The exhibition tournament featured tennis legend Ivan Lendl  playing his first match since his 1994 retirement, and showcased four US Open Champions: Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Marat Safin and Mats Wilander.

Excited fans felt the energy in the stadium as two-time US Open and five-time Wimbledon Champion Venus Williams shared hosting duties with her French Open  mixed doubles partner and New Jersey native Justin Gimelstob. In between matches, Williams shared her experience at the shore, “It’s been great! Everyone’s been so supportive. All of us have been walking around, we’ve had so many people in the hotel and in the city just for this, to see the tennis and that’s huge.”

While the casino industry’s bottom line has been affected by the poor economy, it has also taken a hit from competition in nearby states. Pete Sampras, Marat Safin, and Venus Williams. Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics PhotographyAccording to analysts, the city needs to find its niche so the resort town can reach its full potential. Casino executives with Harrah’s Entertainment say they’re committed to bringing an array of entertainment to the city that’s ‘Always Turned On’. Joe Domenico, Senior Vice President of Caesars & Ballys Atlantic City, said this is just the beginning of a stellar line-up of entertainment and sporting events his properties will bring to the beachfront community, “This is just an absolute fantastic event, we’re so excited to have the opportunity to bring tennis back to Atlantic City-first time in 16 years, ticket sales have been at an all-time record, so it’s a great event to bring back to the city and obviously for our customers.”

In the Caesars Tennis Classic’s first match, Lendl took on Wilander- who beat the legend. Afterwards, Lendl explained the importance of exhibitions: “I think what it does really for the game is it’s very difficult to get a tournament, if Atlantic City or Philadelphia decided they want to have an ATP tour event, it would take probably five years and a lot of money to buy an event and have it and then you get a bad date then you can’t have good players because they play somewhere else and so on, so what it really serves is, it brings tennis on a high level to places which normally would not see it and I think that’s the biggest benefit of the exhibitions and hopefully people like it.”

Although Sampras lost the second match to Safin, Marat Safin. Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photographyhe mentioned that he enjoyed the event and will be back next year, “Being retired gives me the opportunity to have some time to go to some different places and StarGames invited me to do it this year and next year. You know for fans who have never seen me play live tennis, even though I’m past my prime I still play reasonably well so it’s just a good night of tennis, a fun night.”

Match three featured Sampras against Roddick, who bested Sampras. Roddick went on to play and beat Safin in the final match. This was indeed a night of tennis that fans aren’t used to seeing. Event goers got to see a very different side of the athletes during the exhibition as they joked with one another, interacted with the crowd and took some very unique shots.

“I think exhibitions are a little bit more lighthearted," said Roddick. "We can say a lot of the things that we’re thinking sometimes and can’t say during tournaments.” Roddick then laughed and added, “I think it’s really cool for the people to see different generations matching up against each other, it’s all in good fun but at the same time we all want to play well and put on a good show.” While visiting in Atlantic City, Roddick said he had fun both on and off the court, “The tables have been very nice so far but there’s still time for me to blow it and I enjoyed myself. The venue was great, you know being amongst the champions like this and being a part of an event like this and bringing tennis back to Atlantic City—it was all a great experience.”

According to Jerry Solomon, President of StarGames,Andy Roddick. Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography fans loved the event and thought it was a great experience too. “This year has been really successful, we set an attendance record for tennis in Atlantic City and in Boardwalk Hall," said Solomon. "We’ve had the highest grossing for tennis in Boardwalk Hall history, so basically what is really a first-time event—given that there’s been no tennis here for almost a generation—we couldn’t be more excited by the results and the people of Atlantic City have been great!”

With the fantastic results and positive feedback, officials announced that the Caesars Tennis Classic will be back for a second event in the spring of 2011.

The Tennis Channel  will be airing the Caesars Tennis Classic on May 4 at 9pm EST, May 8 at 1pm EST and May 9 at 6pm EST.

Contact Veronica Dudo at: vdudo@philly2philly.com

Photos by: Tom Briglia / PhotoGraphics Photography