There’s far more to the EPTC than a top-tier tournament. All told, the tournament is associated with events that run for practically the entire week. The first of which is a junior clinic held specifically for local Berks County players of all ages. One of the best and most unique aspects of our event is that the pros in attendance fully participate in the clinic, providing an amazing opportunity for the kids to create lifelong memories playing alongside their heroes. The clinic introduces juniors to new players that they otherwise wouldn’t have seen on TV and, in the process, creates new, healthy, and inspiring role models for these young players to emulate. As local Antietam High School Coach Bill Mcclain told 2023 EPTC alum Kiranpaul Pannu, “KP, I can’t thank you enough. You’ve taken over my daughter’s phone screen. You’ve really inspired her to get back out there and play.”
The Pro-Am aspect of the EPTC is central to its identity. Not only do the pros participate in the clinic, but they’re very approachable during the actual tournament and are thrilled to interact with both spectators and volunteers. Ben Foster, a two-time volunteer for the EPTC, had the opportunity to drive 2023 alum Max Neuchrist to the train station so he could attend US Open qualifiers. During the drive, Max was more than happy to provide Ben with advice for improving his tennis, including tips for both his serve and net game. Holden Coons - another 2023 participant - stayed for at least a half-hour following his semi-final appearance to sign autographs and chat with everybody that had congregated.
Small yet impactful moments and decisions like these are the norm at the EPTC because of its intimate community-oriented nature and setting. No other tournament allows for this level of player access and interaction, not even on the challenger level. So yes, the same synergy that exists between player and amateur during the actual competition component of the event is similarly alive between player and fan. Pro-Am in competition and Pro-Am in spirit, that’s the EPTC. Further driving home this precept is Coons himself, as he was one of the amateur additions in the 2023 draw and, as evidenced above, supremely rose to the occasion. Growing up and training in Berks County, no player better embodies the inviolable local spirit of camaraderie than Coons.
For those unable to attend the EPTC in person, the event is covered digitally by Cracked Racquets via live stream with commentary from their head honcho, Alex Gruskin, and local Berks County Tennis Hall of Famer, Don Hutchinson. Gruskin is a certified tennis wonk and together with his team at CR extensively covers all things tennis, especially college tennis, as they just acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights for the indoor ITA tournaments. In fact, CR is one of the leading tennis broadcasters in the nation with viewership second only to ESPN. The live stream coverage consistently pulls down thousands of viewership year-to-year and attracts a ton of external interest.
The 2023 version of the EPTC was the first to feature night sessions, made possible by an experimental lighting company “Tweener.” While the action under the lights was quite entertaining, even more impressive was the lack of light pollution generated by the innovative system. As mentioned earlier, the EPTC is held in a quiet neighborhood, yet - thanks to the bleeding edge tech from Tweener - neighbors were able to enjoy their evenings and get ready for bed without white light blasting through their windows. The best part of the freshly installed Tweener lighting system is that it’s permanent. It’s now a fixture of the Emkey Tennis Garden and enables night play, year round and for all future editions of the EPTC.
The VIP party is the last big piece of the EPTC. It’s typically held the night prior to the first day of play and is a classy little soiree held right at the Emkey Tennis Garden. The VIP party permits fans who’ve purchased access to it another opportunity to truly meet that year's pros as they all attend and intermingle with partygoers. Last, but certainly not least, the party features an open bar, live music, catering from the exquisite Double Tree Hotel, and an irreplicable ambiance.