The Lynchburg City Open, formerly known as the Central Virginia Invitational Tennis Tournament, was canceled for the first time in its 60-year history because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Peter Pristach, who serves as the Lynchburg City Open tournament director and chairman in addition to his role as tennis director at Oakwood Country Club, said the decision was made to cancel the event following Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home executive order that runs through June 10.
“We’re going to try to put all our resources into next year and ramp up the prize money and make the event even bigger,” Pristach said Wednesday in a phone interview. “We were pretty much ready to go and we were going full speed ahead. It just can’t happen this year, unfortunately.”
The Lynchburg City Open was scheduled to be played at Oakwood from June 1 through 6. Instead, the 60th edition of the tournament will be May 25 to 31, 2021.
The tournament began in 1961 and has been held each year at the country club.
Pristach said he looked into potentially rescheduling the tournament later this year but did not know if any dates would be available to accommodate the large number of collegiate athletes and ATP players who make up the field.
On Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced its men’s and women’s professional tours were suspended until at least July 13.
If tennis resumes this year, many tournaments would be hustling to gobble up open dates to fill the schedule, and that likely would leave the Lynchburg City Open scrambling to find a date in the fall.
“We really don’t know if they’re going to be rescheduling those tournaments. We don’t know how long this is going to take,” Pristach said. “ … It doesn’t look like we’re going to be anywhere near finding a date that works, even in the fall.
“Rather than try to find something and it not work well, … we’ll put all our effort into next year’s event.”
The dates in late May and early June for the Lynchburg tournament have proven opportune, because they fall after the completion of the collegiate season and at a time when there is a gap in the ATP schedule.
“The date that we have currently is kind of a sweet date for us,” Pristach said.
“It comes right at the end of the NCAAs and in between some of the bigger [professional] tournaments.”
The tournament is known for drawing big crowds and providing a party-like atmosphere at Oakwood, and most of the players interact with fans throughout the event.
The governor’s mandate currently prevents gatherings of more than 10 people, which would have prevented fans from attending the tournament.
“If we couldn’t have that as part of the tournament, I think that would sell the tournament a little bit short,” Pristach said.
Pristach has closed Oakwood’s indoor tennis courts and is in the process of getting the outdoor courts open for members to use to stay active and exercise.
“We’ll try to keep those open until we’re directed not to,” he said.
The country club’s full-service restaurant and bar, the Grill Room, is closed to dine-in patrons.
Takeout and curbside service still is being provided.
“We’re trying to get through this like everyone else as best as possible,” Pristach said.
The Associated Press contributed.