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View Full Version : What were the biggest tournaments outside the Slams during the 1970s/1980s?


Matt-TennisFan24
Feb 18th, 2012, 12:13 AM
The ones we would call now Premier Mandatory/Premier 5 and used to be called Tier I. They are the 2nd category of most important tournaments after Grand Slams and the YEC.


So, my question is, which tournaments do you guys think could've been considered as "Tier I" due to its importance and field?


I know that Rome has always had that status during that era, and so did the Eastbourne tournaments since the late 70s.

Probably, many of the Virginia Slims tournaments of the time could've been considered as Tier Is? Right?


I don't know, to be honest, I don't know that much about tennis history so it would be great if anyone here could lighten me up a bit and help me with classifying these tournaments.

Thanks in advance!

And discuss :P

GeeTee
Feb 18th, 2012, 01:11 AM
Hard to apply this type of status for many tournaments for this era as the events could vary so much due to changing prize-money, timing, competition from US events (Slims), evolution of the tour.

The Italian wasn't always a top field. Look at 1977 (Newberry d Tomanova), 1983 (Temesvari d Gadusek) or 1985 (Reggi d Vicki Nelson) for instance. Same with the German.

Eastbourne always had a pretty good field, but it wasn't light years ahead of events such as Colgate/Toyota grasscourt events in Melbourne and Sydney.

For most years of this era, I think you have to look at the tournament on a case-by-case basis.

thrust
Feb 18th, 2012, 02:02 AM
Evert, Court, Bueno, Sabatini, Martinez, Seles and Turner were multiple winners of the Italian in that time period. The weak years was probably when top Americans were wasting their time with team tennis, which also hurt the FO for 3 years.

samn
Feb 18th, 2012, 09:29 AM
Between the 70s and the 90s, the only non-Slam tournaments I can think of that consistently attracted a top field were probably the Family Circle Cup, the Tour finals (although the Avon was a bit weak in 1982), and maybe Sydney and Eastbourne. The national championships of Italy, Germany, and Canada all had a few lean years, but generally speaking, I think the Canadian Open wasn't hurt as badly as the Italian and German Opens.

DennisFitz
Feb 19th, 2012, 08:42 AM
The Virginia Slims events in the mid to late 1970s offered points almost the same as Forest Hills and Wimbledon. The VS Championships and the Colgate Championships were considered the 3rd and 4th most prestigious events.

The Colgate Series started in late 1976. They did an official "Tier I" status for some events, most notably the Family Circle Cup, which offered the most prize money. In 1979, the Avon circuit had a 64 player $200K event which was one of the biggest tournaments outside the majors. The Amelia Island event, beginning in 1981 was known as the "WTA Championships" but was just a regular tour event that offered a lot of prize money and had very strong draws.

alfajeffster
Feb 20th, 2012, 02:35 PM
The Amelia Island event, beginning in 1981 was known as the "WTA Championships" but was just a regular tour event that offered a lot of prize money and had very strong draws.

I'm going from memory here (not always the best source), but I believe Amelia Island was the WITA Championships. The WTA changed it's monicker around that time to "include" international into a WTA that was perceived as an American organization. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I know they changed it back to WTA some years later, but I was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when that happened! I remember wishing our ship would stop in Italy so I could actually see the Foro Italico (this was before they made it bigger and the statues that lined the court became hidden behind stands), but even if we did stop, it would've been Naples, and not having been to Italy, it would've been a stretch to make it up to Rome in the 1 day shore leave I would've had anyway. Back to the topic at hand, weren't the Pacific Southwest (Los Angeles) and U.S. Claycourts (Indianapolis) kind of important stops?

AdeyC
Feb 20th, 2012, 03:40 PM
Eastbourne always had a pretty good field, but it wasn't light years ahead of events such as Colgate/Toyota grasscourt events in Melbourne and Sydney.

For most years of this era, I think you have to look at the tournament on a case-by-case basis.

Eastbourne used to be a fantastic event - it was a 64 player draw and you'd get matches going on past 8pm, sometimes till it started to get dark.

Sadly they reduced it to a 28 player draw some years ago which also meant that the Top 4 seeds didn't play first round matches.

Rollo
Feb 20th, 2012, 11:49 PM
It really depends on the year.

From 1983 (when we finally had 1 unified tour) it's easy to pick out the big events because they were all tied to the same prize money system and points.

For example the Lipton in Miami was the biggest event outside the slams and the WTA Championships from it's first year in 1985.

Alfa is right about Amelia Island, which was a huge event from about 1981.

The Family Circle Cup had record prize money when it started in 1973. I would call it a "Tier I" all the way up until a few years ago.

samn
Feb 21st, 2012, 08:42 AM
Alfa is right about Amelia Island, which was a huge event from about 1981.

The Family Circle Cup had record prize money when it started in 1973. I would call it a "Tier I" all the way up until a few years ago.

Would that be the Murjani/Sunkist/Nutrasweet/B&L/WTA/WITA Championships in Amelia Island you're referring to? (I'm tempted to play a geeky trivia quiz master and point out that the Family Circle Cup was also held in Amelia Island for a couple of years in the mid 70s. :lol: ;) )

I remember reading somewhere that the reason this event was called the WTA/WITA Championships was that even though the total prize money was roughly the same as that at the Family Circle Cup, the players, including the winner, got slightly less than they did at Hilton Head because a percentage of the total prize money awarded in Amelia Island was "donated" back to the WTA/WITA.

samn
Feb 21st, 2012, 08:50 AM
I'm surprised and more than a little disappointed that Pamela Shriver hasn't deigned to inform us heathens that the biggest tournament (bigger even than the Slams) has always been Edgbaston.