Spell USTA Tennis tournament

Tournament director Keith Evans (left) congratulates Roberto Cid Subervi after his three-set victory in the finals of the Spell Restaurant Group $25,000 Men's USTA tournament played at the Snowden Grove Tennis Center in Southaven.  

In case you weren’t aware, there was a professional tennis tournament going on in DeSoto County this past week and the final match was about as hot as the August heat it was played in.

A tournament that has been played at another Mid-South location in the past made its initial stop at the Snowden Grove Tennis Complex in Southaven. The Spell Restaurant Group USTA $25,000 Men’s Tournament event took place with Dominican-American Roberto Cid Subervi coming away with the first-place trophy and about $2,000 in prize money.

Cid Subervi rallied in Saturday’s final against American Ulises Blanch 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 with a 10-8 third-set tiebreaker determining the champion.

While Blanch served nine aces to Cid Subervi with two, it was Subervi being able to hold on for the win with an appreciative crowd watching the final match.

“I was trying to just stay in the match from the beginning,” he said afterwards. “Mentally, I just tried to stay in the match, even when he was playing unbelievable. I knew I would get my chances later.”

To understand the level of tennis that was played in Southaven last week, Cid Subervi has seen Davis Cup play and has played in first-round action at both the U.S. Open and the Australian Open events.

The Tampa, Florida resident played collegiately at the University of South Florida, and while he has played in Memphis with USF, this was his first time here as a pro.

“This is an awesome, awesome tournament and I really liked it,” Cid Subervi said. “There was a great crowd here supporting, so I appreciate it.”

The Spell Restaurant Group of Memphis, whose properties include the Brookhaven Pub and Grill, has sponsored the USTA event for a number of years and had played the event at the now-closed Germantown, Tennessee Country Club. Tournament director Keith Evans, who now is the head tennis pro at Oxford’s Goose Creek Racquet, Swim and Health Club, went looking for the best hard-court facility to hold the tournament, which he found with Southaven Tennis Director Michael Johnson. The USTA tournament needed to be played on a hard court surface.

The tournament was played on the Southaven courts from Aug. 10 to Saturday’s championship match.

The caliber of play, Evans pointed out, is not much different from what you might see on television.

“There’s not much difference in the level of play,” Evans said. “Their rankings are just not as high. We had two players here who are playing in the U.S. Open coming up. We have some up-and-coming, rising stars. You get to see them here and talk with them and you never know, in a year they’re on television and you’re watching them every day.”

Evans said the Southaven facility was a great place to play on and plans are to bring it back to Southaven next year.

“The city has been so helpful,” Evans said. “They’ve given me volunteers that have done things we had to do at Germantown on our own. It’s been a great move.”

Evans added the LED lights at the Snowden Grove complex allowed the tournament three feature matches at night during the week. He said they plan to play the entire tournament under the lights next year to avoid the daytime heat.

“The lights have to be a certain level (of brightness), so it’s been nice having that,” Evans said. “We had pretty good crowds out at night.”

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.