Edwardsville Futures an economic win for the local community


It was fitting that the Edwardsville Futures press conference would be held Friday at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites at 1000 Plummer Drive.

The hotel is one of many local amenities seeing economic payoff from the USTA Pro Circuit tournament held at the EHS Tennis Center July 25-31.

Now in his 11e year, the Edwardsville Futures is the only professional tennis tournament in the St. Louis area and the only professional tennis tournament hosted by a high school in the world.

The EGHM Foundation has been the presenting sponsor of the Edwardsville Futures since its inception. Former president and current vice president of the EGHM Foundation, Joe Gugger, estimates that the tournament brings about $250,000 to $300,000 to the local economy.

With a total prize pool of $25,000, the Edwardsville Futures has become an attractive destination for aspiring tennis professionals.

Edwardsville coach and tournament director David Lipe said many players had already expressed doubts when they first heard about a professional tournament hosted by a southern Illinois high school. , but were quickly impressed with Edwardsville and surrounding areas, EHS sports facilities and nearby amenities.

“I’m proud to be from this community,” Lipe said.

The tournament features some of the best talent in the world. Currently, there are three tennis professionals in the second round of Wimbledon who have already participated in the Edwardsville Futures.

Since these players come to Edwardsville from all over the world, nearby local amenities make it easy for players to eat and rest.

Madison County Transit bike lanes have become popular with these traveling players, as most of them bring bikes to ride through the area.

“We wanted this tournament to be a first-class experience from the start,” Lipe said. “This Edwardsville place is truly amazing.”

Gugger added: “We knew from the start that we didn’t want to do anything halfway. It’s a big, small town. We decided very early on to do this tournament locally and to do it properly.

In the past, Gugger has even housed players in his own residence, as money can be tight with these burgeoning professionals. But now nearby hotels have made it an easier experience for players.

Before the rise of Edwardsville amenities, players stayed in surrounding areas like Collinsville and Pontoon Beach.

“It makes these people want to come back to this event,” Gugger said. “That’s why this tournament is good for the community. This benefits the children of District 7 and local businesses. It is a well run event which is great communication for Edwardsville and Glen Carbon.

Even with the marquee talent on display, Lipe attributes the success of the Edwardsville Futures to the community’s involvement throughout the week of play.

Almost every night promises free clinics and events, including Diversity Day, Children’s Night, Mitch ‘n’ Friends and Fan Appreciation Day.

One aspect that sets the Edwardsville Futures apart is that it is the only known Lipe Futures tournament that provides its own ballkids for every main draw game. Lipe said this small detail is a big deal for players because it speeds up matches and saves energy for players.

For this year, Lipe plans to have an improved VIP experience, more concessions and a live streaming service.

“This tournament is a giant mountain, but everyone helps make it possible,” Lipe said.

Emily Cimarolli, an EHS assistant tennis coach and second-grade teacher in District 7, is one of the tournament’s associate directors. Among other duties, she communicates with players and officials.

Kirk Schlueter, another assistant coach at EHS, is also one of the tournament’s associate directors. He is in charge of marketing and public relations.

Paul Abert, director of the EGHM Foundation, is the treasurer of the tournament. His two children played tennis for Lipe at EHS.

“Being involved in local events like this is huge for me and my family,” Abert said. “I’m proud to be part of it.”

Besides the EGHM Foundation, there are a number of local sponsors and partners for Edwardsville Futures. The City of Edwardsville continues to be the tournament’s largest partner.

For more information on Edwardsville Futures, visit tournament website.


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