Lammons_Nathaniel 08.07.17.JPG (copy)

Nathaniel Lammons, left, and Alexandru Gozun celebrate after a victory to win the doubles during finals of the 2017 USTA/Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic at Fairview Park in Decatur. 

CLAY JACKSON, HERALD & REVIEW

Today, Kevin Anderson is the 15th ranked men's tennis player in the world, fresh off an appearance in the finals of the U.S. Open.

His tennis career has taken him all over the world. He's participated in all of the Grand Slam tournaments. Among his stops, two appearances – in 2005 and 2006 – in the USTA/Ursula Beck Men’s Pro Tennis Classic in Decatur.

The tournament, held for the 19th time this year, brings 96 tennis players from more than 20 countries to the city in late July and early August.

Tournament Director Chuck Kuhle was spurred to establish a local professional tournament by two things – nearby Champaign having attracted one to their community and Decatur's success hosting a professional golf tournament.

“It got me thinking. Why can't we have a tennis tournament here?”

In his 1999 proposal to the Decatur Park District Board seeking its blessing to host the tournament at its facility, Kuhle wrote: "Hosting a tournament of this size would create more enthusiasm for the game through pro-ams, junior tennis carnivals, meet-the-pro cocktail parties as well as viewing the tournament. In addition, our city could use the tournament for a charity fundraiser."

The first major hurdle was the speed in which it all came together. Expecting a year to organize his first tournament, the U.S. Tennis Association asked if he could make it happen in three months.

“We pulled it off,” Kuhle said. “Now it runs like a well-oiled machine.”

One of the first calls he got after announcing plans to seek the tournament came from Decatur businessman Darrell Beck, who offered immediate financial support. The tournament is named after Beck's wife, Ursula, an avid tennis player who took great pride in helping to bring an event of this type to Decatur. While both have since passed, the family's support of the tournament continues.

In addition to any boost the tournament has given the local economy through things like hotel and restaurant sales, some of the tournament proceeds have been used to support the continuation of tennis in the community.

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Managing Editor, Print

Managing Editor of Print for the Herald & Review.

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