May 1 (Reuters) - Live professional tennis will return to the U.S. with a number of high-profile male and female players taking part in the UTR Pro Match Series in Florida this month.
Italian world number eight Matteo Berrettini will be joined by Americans Reilly Opelka, Tennys Sandgren and Tommy Paul in West Palm Beach from May 8-10.
Berrettini, a U.S. Open semi-finalist last year, has been staying in Florida since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the ATP and WTA Tours in the middle of March.
No official tournaments will take place until at least the middle of July with the U.S. Open’s prospects uncertain.
WTA top 20-player Alison Riske and rising star Amanda Anisimova will play in the women’s UTR Pro Match Series scheduled for May 22-24. It will also feature Danielle Collins and Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic.
Neither event will have spectators but will be aired live on the Tennis Channel, who are co-organisers.
Matches will take place without line judges or ball kids and players will use their own marked balls for serving.
“The world has changed and we must adapt and innovate,” Universal Tennis Chairman & CEO Mark Leschly said.
“Local, individual and small group play will be the new normal for the foreseeable future. The UTR Pro Match Series showcases how tennis can be played locally, safely and have results count toward the UTR global rating.”
On Friday a men’s exhibition event called the Tennis Point Exhibition Series began in Germany, also adopting strict social distancing rules, although players used the same balls to serve.
Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy in the south of France will host a five-week series also starting in May. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)