Former French Open doubles champion and U.S. Olympic and Davis Cup team member Ryan Harrison is among the leading entries in the $15,000 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships to be held October 18-24 at The Boulevard Tennis Club.
Harrison is among the 18 confirmed main draw singles player to date who will compete in Vero Beach’s annual professional tennis tournament that is part of the International Tennis Federation’s World Tennis Tour and the U.S. Tennis Association’s Pro Circuit. The tournament serves as the largest fundraiser for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit organization founded by Vero Beach native Mardy Fish, the former top 10 tennis star, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and the current U.S. Davis Cup captain.
Harrison, 29, was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic tennis team and the U.S. Davis Cup team in 2012 and 2018. He won the 2017 French Open doubles title with Michael Venus as the highlight of his five career ATP singles and doubles titles to date, also winning the ATP singles title in Memphis in 2017. Harrison has played in 29 Grand Slam main draw singles tournaments in his career, reaching the third round at the U.S. Open in 2016 and the Australian Open in 2018. He ranked as high as No. 40 in the ATP rankings in 2017, but has seen his ranking fall to a current ranking of No. 475, due to injuries and limited playing opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The No. 2 leading entry is No. 476-ranked Patrick Kypson of Raleigh, N.C., the winner of the 2017 USTA National Boy’s 18 Championships who competed in the main draw of the 2017 U.S. Open and played for one season for Texas A&M. Also in the field is University of Florida standout Ben Shelton of Gainesville, Fla., who clinched the NCAA team title for the Gators last May playing for his father, Florida head coach Bryan Shelton. During the U.S. Open qualifying tournament in August, ESPN’s Brad Gilbert predicted Shelton would be in the top 100 in the world within three years.
Other leading entries include Liam Draxl of Canada, who was the No. 1 seed at the 2021 NCAA singles championship competing for the University of Kentucky, Juncheng Shang of China, the singles runner-up at the 2021 U.S. Open junior championships, and Evan Zhu of Ann Arbor, Mich., the 2018 NCAA doubles champion at UCLA. The tournament will also feature several fan favorites from previous editions of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships including 2018 champion Juan Benitez of Colombia, 2016 semifinalist Vasil Kirkov of Tampa, Fla., 2018 semifinalist Strong Kircheimer of Cary, N.C., three-time Mardy Fish wild card event winner Matthew Segura of Apopka, Fla., the great nephew of tennis legend Pancho Segura, and 2018 runner-up Ricardo Rodridugez of Venezuela, who is fresh off playing Davis Cup for his country last month against South Africa at the historic West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills.
“This is the best player field this tournament has had since it started in 1995,” said co-Tournament Director Tom Fish, the President Emeritus of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation and the father of Mardy Fish. “To have in our field a player like Ryan Harrison, with a resume that includes a Grand Slam doubles title, along with many talented young players who have won and contended for junior Grand Slam tournament titles, USTA National Championships and NCAA Championships, makes the anticipation for this event as high as it has ever been.”
Due to COVID protocols, limited seating is available via reserved tickets and sponsorships. No daily tickets are being sold. Those interested in reserved tickets or sponsorships can contact Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Executive Director Lynn Southerly at LSouth1072@gmail.com The tournament is traditionally held in late April but was postponed to October due to COVID-19.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again host this event at The Boulevard in continued challenging times,” said Southerly. “Unfortunately, we are only able to accommodate event sponsors and those who buy reserved seats for the entire tournament as spectators due to COVID protocols with the condensed player and fan areas at the event. All proceeds for the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation so at-risk children in Indian River County will be the real winners at our event this year.”
Some of the past competitors at the USTA Vero Beach Futures have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007, competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and most recently new top 10 start Denis Shapovalov, who played in Vero Beach in 2016. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Eight former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul.
Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishChildrensFoundation.org and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,400 children in 15 elementary schools, six middle schools, and several other community organizations in Indian River County, Florida by funding after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.
Leading tournament sponsors for 2021 include Presenting Sponsor: PNC Bank, Grand Slam Sponsors: Boston Barricade, George E. Warren Corporation, The Jake Owen Foundation, John’s Island Real Estate, Tom Collins Insurance, Cabana/Box Seat Sponsors: Michael and Kathleen Pierce, Gene Simonsen, John and Charlotte Klein, Peter and Maureen Lee, John’s Island Real Estate, Wilmington Trust, Bob and Lace Milligan, Micky and Rob Stein, Bob and Emilie Burr, Lynn Southerly, John and Sara Marshall, John and Marie McConnell, Shirley Becker, Hadleigh Investments and Supporting Sponsors: Syde Hurdus Foundation, Mike and Meg Hickey/The M&M Group, Nalzarro Music, Flat Rock Global, LLC, Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, Kitchens by Design, Diamond Resorts, Center Court Outfitters, Foglia Contracting, Offfutt, Barton, Schlitt, Inc, Joe and Gloria Papalardo, Dave and Nina Piacquad, Baerbel O’Haire, Dr. Curtis Dalili, Line Ory, Rebecca Emmons, Linda Johnson, Pene Chambers, Felicia Payton, Kaye Manly, Kathy Silloway, Willem and Marion DeVogel, Ron Chesley, Dr. Collin Kitchell and Minuteman Press.