The small-scale events could create a road map to help the men’s and women’s tours return.
Tennys Sandgren, who was on a roll before professional tennis shut down, has had enough of video games and self-isolation in his home near Nashville, Tenn.
“I’d play tennis in a hazmat suit, just to go compete. I’m itching,” he said on Wednesday night.
Such extreme measures will not be necessary, just a 12-hour road trip next week. Sandgren plans to drive to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play in the UTR Pro Match Series, the first top-tier tennis exhibition in the age of the coronavirus, and hardly the last.
Sandgren, an American who had seven match points in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January before losing to Roger Federer, is set to play May 8-10 against Matteo Berrettini of Italy and the rising Americans Reilly Opelka and Tommy Paul.
Berrettini, ranked eighth, was a surprise semifinalist at last year’s United States Open. Opelka is ranked 39th, Sandgren 55th and Paul 57th.
The matches, to be played on a private hardcourt and broadcast on Tennis Channel, will be singles only, with no live spectators and just one match official to respect social-distancing requirements.
“We’re trying to bring pro tennis back on linear TV, and we’re doing it in a way that is super safe,” said Mark Leschly, the chairman and chief executive of Universal Tennis, the tennis rating and organizational platform that is backing the event with Tennis Channel.