BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “It’s a storied tradition, it really is.”
It’s the 98th MUNY Tennis Tournament here in Buffalo this week. With over 200 players signed up to play in this weeklong tournament at Delaware Park, it’s sure to be an ace.
“I think it’s as big as I’ve seen it in a while,” MUNY Tennis Tournament director Tim Sands said. “We’ll see, the rain plays a factor in it too, so it’s been a big puzzle trying to figure that out. Some days will be smaller, some days will be bigger, but this weekend will be huge.
“Hopefully we get good weather, but it’s going to be an all day event, 9 am to 9 pm, and hopefully people come out. We’ll have sub trays, we’ll have food, snacks, water, drinks, no charge, and great tennis.”
After the MUNY was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, in the tournament’s 98th year, it’s being run by new organizers. Gordon Panek and Tim Sands of Summer Classic Events, Inc. have taken over for longtime MUNY organizers BNCTA, and they’re hoping to continue to grow the tournament.
“This one is unique, this is our first year with the MUNY. In previous years, it’s been run by the BNCTA which is the Buffalo Niagara Community Tennis Association, they’ve pretty much run the gambit with it and got a little tired of continuing it, so they passed down the torch to us and we’re going to see what we can do with it and improve it a little bit, make it a little more tournament friendly. I think if we get some good weather and the rain holds, we’ll get it done well,” MUNY Tennis Tournament organizer Gordon Panek said.
“It’s so exciting. I feel like it’s the beginning of something really special,” Sands said. “We’re super excited, we have a great team, it’s not just the two of us, we have a bunch of others that help us out, we have a bunch of sponsors that help us out, and then the players really making the tournament happen. It’s an honor to be directing this event.”
Throughout the almost century-long history of the tournament, the MUNY has played host to all the big names in the Western New York tennis community.
“Since we picked it up this year, we’re already looking forward to the 100th (year), because we’re going to make it spectacular. We’re going to hopefully get a marquee player who’s retired from the pros, see if we can do some exhibition matches,” Panek said. “Certainly there’s been a lot of players who have come through this, Jimmy Arias has played in this many times over the years and he turned pro, he knows the tournament very well.
“Other people like Reverend Bob Heatherington who won it many times who’s been in the area, has played in this tournament. There’s a host of other top players, Bobby Banks was another one who turned pro and played in this tournament. There’s a number of people who have gone pro who have played in this over the many, many years,” Panek said.
The MUNY Tennis Tournament runs each day from 5-8pm at the Nottingham Courts at Delaware Park, and all day on Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.