Five Things: Storylines to Watch as Play Begins in Dallas

Five Things: Storylines to Watch as Play Begins in Dallas

Five Things: Storylines to Watch as Play Begins in Dallas
By: Blair Henley

 

After months of anticipation, the inaugural Dallas Open kicks off Sunday with qualifying action, followed by main draw play on Monday at SMU’s Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex. Whether you are planning to check out the action in person or enjoy it from the comfort of your couch, keep an eye on these storylines:

 

Qualifying Quickstart

Sunday’s qualifying play is sure to get the Dallas Open tennis party started in style. Players will need two wins to secure a spot in the main draw, guaranteeing some exciting, high-stakes matches along the way. Fans might recognize names like former singles No. 25 and Wimbledon doubles champion Vasek Pospisil, recent Australian Open qualifier Liam Broady, Washington, D.C. native and former Georgia Tech standout Christopher Eubanks, who will help round out a solid qualifying draw in Dallas.

 

Pro Tennis Goes to College

Not only is the Dallas Open making its home at SMU’s beautiful Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex, but it will also play host to several former and current collegians. Eight players on the main draw entry list called a college campus home at one point in their careers, including former world No. 8 John Isner (Georgia), Maxime Cressy (UCLA), Tennys Sandgren (Tennessee) and arguably the best college tennis player of all time, Steve Johnson (USC). The college tennis atmosphere will take center stage on Tuesday, February 8, as SMU’s own Caleb Chakravarthi makes his ATP Tour debut on “College Night.”

 

Bringing the Heat

There are two players entering the Dallas Open with hopes of keeping their early season momentum alive, and top seed Taylor Fritz is one of them. The 24-year-old Californian is fresh off his first trip to the second week of a major, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open before falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas. As a result, Fritz arrives in Dallas as a newly-minted member of the top 20 in the world.

 

Maxime Cressy is another 24-year-old American riding a hot start to his season into the first U.S. event of the year. Utilizing his vintage serve-and-volley game style, he rose from No. 112 to No. 59 in the world over the course of the past month after reaching his first ATP final and making a fourth-round Australian Open appearance of his own.

 

Home Court Advantage for Isner?

Often players are said to enjoy home-court advantage when they play in their home country or even home city. American veteran John Isner is taking that term one step further, playing on his literal home courts this week. He’s a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, but Isner settled right around the corner from the SMU campus with his wife Madison, adding three children to the family over the past few years.

 

Not only will the big-serving 36-year-old have a comfort factor working in his favor this week in Dallas, but his charity, the Isner Family Foundation, is the non-profit partner for the event. Isner will kick off the Dallas Open festivities with the Isner Charity Cup exhibition on Friday night. Proceeds will help provide financial support for families with children receiving care at Children’s Health in North Texas.

 

International Flavor

As anticipated, the Dallas Open draw will showcase much of the top American talent, but there are several familiar names traveling in from around the world. French lefty Adrian Mannarino, is fresh off a run to the fourth round at the Australian Open. Australians Jordan Thompson and John Millman join Germans Peter Gojowczyk and Daniel Altmaier, while Italian veteran Andreas Seppi rounds out the international arrivals.

 

The draw will take place Saturday afternoon.