Jimmy’s blog: Knoxville Challenger canceled due to pandemic

By Jimmy Hyams

The highly successful USTA Knoxville Challenger has been canceled due to complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the Helen Ross McNabb Center – the beneficiary of the event — made the announcement during a committee meeting Tuesday.

The tournament was to be played Nov. 8-14 at the University of Tennessee’s indoor tennis facility.

It will be held Nov. 8-14 next year.

The event netted $182,000 for the Helen Ross McNabb Center last year and has become a popular social event in the tennis community. It has also attracted some outstanding players through the years, such as Jack Sock, Donald Young and John Isner as well as former Tennessee players like Tennys Sandgren, Rhyne Williams and J.P. Smith.

When the Board of Health said it was limiting capacity to 50 people – including players, tournament officials and staff – local officials decided to cancel.

“We have hung our hat for 11 years on making this a social event for our sponsors,’’ said committee member Howard Blum, former tournament director of the Challenger.

“We could gamble on the guidelines changing by the end of October, but I’m not optimistic that’ll happen.

“As a staff, we’re all keenly disappointed we have to do this. The thought of canceling the event is a terrifying one.’’

The Knoxville Challenger – the most efficient fund raiser of any Challenger event in the nation – has raised over $1.46 million in 11 years.

The USTA announced last Friday that all USTA Challengers had been canceled in the month of September.

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