Five Things To Know About Houston
The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship is a historic event, dating back to 1910 in Omaha, Nebraska. It is the only North American clay-court tournament on the ATP Tour.
From memorable moments to charitable giving, ATPTour.com looks at five things to know about the ATP 250, which has been held in Houston since 2001.
Isner Struck His 10,000th Ace In Houston
John Isner hit his 10,000th ace in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship, blasting a 138 mile-per-hour missile down the T past good friend Steve Johnson to start the fourth game of the deciding set (1-2).
"Ten thousand aces is an incredible achievement," said Isner after losing the match, despite hitting 28 aces. "It is bittersweet to hit it in a loss tonight, but that’s just how it goes sometimes."
The ace made Isner the fourth player in history to join the 10,000-ace club, and he is now second on the all-time list with 12,266 aces. After the history-making ace, there was a slight delay as the ball was passed to chair umpire Simon Cannavan for safekeeping. Isner eventually signed the ball and labelled it ‘10K’, and it was sent to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island to be put on display.
Unforgettable Players’ Party & More Fun
A staple of the The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship is its players’ party. Every year, players, tournament staff and supporters gather at a thrilling party in which the dress code is all-white. Some players even pack a special outfit for the trip, and others go shopping once in Houston to make sure they fulfill the requirements.
It is a good opportunity for everyone to unwind before the action begins, with players mingling with those who will be out watching the matches throughout the week. The dancing and musical performances are always a hit, including cover band Party on the Moon.
“We are rocking everything head to toe white. It’s what makes this tournament so fun, events like this,” said John Isner in 2016. “People are so engaged and it promotes our tournament so well. All these people are going to be out watching us all week, so it’s great to see.”
That’s not all the players have enjoyed at the event, though. Sam Querrey, who played Houston each year from 2007-19 — has become a stalwart in the annual fashion show, Steve Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Houston Astros game last year, and Frances Tiafoe went to a Houston Rockets game two years ago and was thrilled to take a picture with an oversized head of superstar James Harden, who is known for his massive beard.
Bryan Brothers’ Have Enjoyed Plenty Of Success
From 1969 through 2008, only two teams lifted the Houston doubles title in consecutive years: Kevin Curren/Steve Denton (1980-81) and Ken Flach/Robert Seguso (1984-85). No duo had triumphed in three consecutive years.
But Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan accomplished the feat from 2009-2011, and they have won a tournament record six titles. The Bryan Brothers or the team they have lost to has won the Houston title in each of their past 12 appearances (2006-07, 2009-11, 2013-19).
"There's no better place to do it than in Houston, where we've enjoyed so much success and had unbelievable fan support," Mike said after they won their sixth Houston title, in 2016. "Thanks to the River Oaks Country Club and its members for another fantastic tournament."
The Bryan Brothers, known not just for their tennis, but their musical talents, perform an annual concert poolside after play on Thursday at the tournament, thrilling fans on and off the court.
Seven Champions Reached World No. 1
In the Open Era, seven champions of this event have reached the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings. That list of titlists includes Jimmy Connors, who holds the record for most titles at the event during the Open Era with four.
The other World No. 1s to triumph are Andre Agassi (1988, 2003), Jim Courier (1998), Lleyton Hewitt (2009), Ivan Lendl (1985), Andy Roddick (2001-02, 2005) and Mats Wilander (1987). Michael Chang (1997), Tommy Haas (2004), Magnus Norman (1999) and Manuel Orantes (1973, 1975, 1977) are all former World No. 2s who lifted the trophy at the only American clay-court event held at tour-level.
Sportsmanship First: The Langston Trophy
The Langston Trophy, named in honour of Ernest Langston, who was the general chairman of the River Oaks tennis tournament for eight years, is annually awarded to a player or players who exemplify great sportsmanship.
In 2018, the trophy was awarded to seven players: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, John Isner, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. The Americans made personal donations toward resurfacing the two tennis courts at Sunnyside Park, which were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Other players who have received the Langston Trophy are Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and Pete Sampras. The 2019 recipient was doubles champion Santiago Gonzalez.