The Open Era of Tennis

Donald Gomsi has served the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) as a head tester for the last three decades. For nearly three years, Donald Gomsi has also worked as the head tennis professional at Del Mar, California’s Carmel Valley Tennis.

Individuals who are new to the sport of tennis may hear about the open era from time to time, and in fact a number of the sport’s biggest tournaments include the United States Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and many other open tournaments. The open era began in 1968 when these tournaments and a number of additional top-ranked events opened their doors to amateur players and professionals alike. Prior to the start of the open era, only amateurs were permitted to compete at Wimbledon, for example, while professionals played exclusively on the pro circuit.

At the time, the distinction between professional and amateur players was negligible, as many amateurs received substantial compensation for tournament wins and appearances. Meanwhile, the argument that professional players would overwhelmingly dominate their amateur counterparts failed to hold water, as amateur American Arthur Ashe won the first ever joint tournament. Tennis remains an open sport today, and all modern records and statistics are limited to those recorded after 1968.