For three decades, the tennis courts at Van Der Meer's Shipyard Resort have stood distant from elite competition, yet still waiting patiently on the next crop of young stars ready to make a name for themselves on Hilton Head Island.
The site was home to the World Championship Tennis Grand Prix in 1982 and 1983, where notables such as Ivan Lendl, Guillermo Vilas, Van Winitsky, Pat Du Pre, and Robert Van't Hof matched wits. The World Couples Mixed Doubles Tournament also made its home there in the early 1980s, when two dozen international stars battled for a purse that exceeded $100,000.
That type of competition will make its return to Shipyard once again in 2013, as a USTA Pro Circuit Women's $10K event will call Hilton Head Island home this fall. The 64-draw qualifying tournament will run from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1, with the 32-man draw set to run from Oct. 1 to Oct. 6.
"It's been a long time since Shipyard has hosted a professional tournament at any level," tournament director Jim Stubbs said.
That it has. But a scheduling conflict will allow that streak to come to a close later this year, Stubbs said, after the event's initial host pulled out.
"The WTA approached us to fill a hole on their schedule," he said. "Another tournament dropped off, and they were in a bind. They approached us and asked if we'd help out."
Van Der Meer was glad to oblige. And now, Shipyard will become the second site on Hilton Head Island to host a women's $10K this season after Clemson's Yana Koroleva won at the nearby Van Der Meer Tennis Center in early June. That tournament took place on hard courts while Shipyard's event will be on clay.
This latest event might bring back some memories for tennis fans in the Lowcountry, as the pro circuit will travel to Shipyard immediately after a stop on Amelia Island. Before it left for Charleston, the Family Circle Cup on Hilton Head Island followed the Amelia Island event on the WTA schedule.
"It's like we're going back to our roots, if you will," Stubbs said.
There won't be any epic match like there was in 1983, when Lendl edged Vilas in the Grand Prix. But Stubbs is just fine with that. Because elite competition will be calling Shipyard home for the first time since former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade and former fifth-ranked Hana Mandlikova battled at the facility when Ronald Reagan was in office.