Schenectady County

Etkin’s dream of Schenectady tennis tourney a longshot

An enticing idea from disgraced OTB president Davis Etkin got Schenectady City Council support Monda

An enticing idea from disgraced OTB president Davis Etkin got City Council support Monday, but his plan to bring a professional men’s tennis tournament to the city has turned out to be more of a dream than a realistic proposal.

Etkin told the council that the city was at the “top of the list” for United States Tennis Association pro-circuit tournament sites.

“With the city’s support, I don’t think we can lose,” he said.

Council members agreed to spend about $5,000 resurfacing the city’s tennis stadium in preparation for a tournament next year. The expense would be formally approved in the 2009 budget.

But the USTA said Schenectady actually has only a slim chance of hosting a tournament next year — particularly a men’s tourney.

Schenectady is among 100 sites listed as alternates for next year’s pro-circuit. When a regular site drops out, USTA calls the four alternates that are geographically closest to the planned site and offer them the tournament. It’s given to whichever site responds first, said Danielle Gooding, manager of the men’s pro-circuit.

“We see who would be interested and who would be willing to move fast,” she said. “They have to fit perfectly.”

Schenectady was offered a last-minute slot this year, which may have led to Etkin’s confusion about the city’s chances in future years. Etkin said he had to refuse the offer for a September tournament because he wouldn’t have been able to get the stadium ready in time.

But Gooding said Schenectady isn’t likely to be called on to fill a scheduled slot very often.

“With weather, of course, Schenectady’s limited so we’d need summer or early fall,” she said. “Our summer is very strong. Our turnover is almost nill.”

Still, she said, it’s always possible.

Etkin said he’d be willing to host a women’s professional tournament instead. Gooding said the women’s circuit has more openings — but said Schenectady isn’t listed for that circuit because the Capital District market clearly prefers a men’s tournament.

Etkin also needs to raise about $40,000 to pay for a tournament. He is planning to move forward with that in hopes of winning the alternate-site lottery.

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