Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME TENNIS? Bausch & Lomb Begins Monday Field Features Top Women Players

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME TENNIS? Bausch & Lomb Begins Monday Field Features Top Women Players

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

AMELIA ISLAND -- For the 27th year, the Bausch & Lomb Championships will draw some of the world's best women's tennis players to compete on the courts at the Amelia Island Plantation.

"It's an event that when you go and experience it, it's a really enjoyable day," Tournament Director John Arrix said. "It's a wonderful place to watch tennis, in a really intimate environment that you don't get in this day and age from larger stadiums."

This year's tournament gets under way Monday and continues through Sunday, April 9.

The tournament, which began in 1980, was the dream of Arrix's father, sports promoter Robert Arrix.

"He came down from Connecticut to Amelia Island for a vacation; he saw an ad in the New York Times," John Arrix said. "When he was down here, he thought it would be a perfect place for a tennis tournament. He took a little bit of a risk, and the rest is history. It did take quite a few years to establish itself as a good event on the tour and a good business as well."

The tournament, renamed the Bausch & Lomb Championships when the company took over sponsorship in 1986, has grown with women's sports, John Arrix said. Arrix has been tournament chairman since 1994.

"Women's sports in general took off in the 1990s. The game of tennis began to change. I think the big difference now is that it's very much a global property. You see that with tournaments that are doing well financially as well as in drawing crowds. I think we have a good recipe for success for a fan. Our box seat renewals are almost 90 percent," Arrix said.

Over the years, the tournament officials have worked to please fans and get them to come back, Arrix said.

"They've tried to emphasize our night sessions, making them more entertaining. This year, we're creating the Court Six Cafe where people can hang out, spend some time and have a drink. Each year, we're trying to improve the non-tennis side. We think that's something we've done a good job with over the years," he said.

On the tennis side, fans this year will see several Top 20 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players, Bausch & Lomb Championships Public Relations/Media Manager Sandy Kavanaugh said. …

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