Compliments, Not Crowds, for Tennis Tournament; Fan Reaction Was Positive, but Attendance Still Down at MPS Group Championships

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Byline: SHAKAYA ANDRES

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - The MPS Group Championships ran smoother this year during its second year at Sawgrass County Club, but the attendance was far less than expected at the women's pro tennis tournament, officials said Monday.

Last year, 34,429 fans attended the tournament. This year, tournament officials had hoped to draw about 40,000, but they said that, because of the economy, only 26,714 people came out during the week-long event that wrapped up Sunday.

"That's all I can attribute it to," said tournament spokeswoman Sandy Kavanaugh. "We had so many compliments from fans, I don't think it was the event."

The fan reaction was attributed in part to improvements such as more shaded areas, officials said.

"We were more settled into this venue," Kavanaugh said.

Next year, tennis fans can expect a new tournament title sponsor name, which has yet to be decided. The name change will reflect the MPS Group's acquisition by Adecco in January.

The name change will be the third change since 1987, when the tournament was at Amelia Island Plantation and it was called the Bausch & Lomb Championships. When the event moved to Sawgrass Country Club last year, the name changed to the MPS Group Championships, reflecting the new title sponsor, the MPS Group, a Jacksonville staffing, consulting and information technology firm.

The company is expected to decide within the next two months on the name change, said Kavanaugh. …