ITHF to host documentary premiere

September 23, 2014

NEWPORT, R.I. — On Saturday, October 11, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will host the world premiere of WCT: The Road to Open Tennis, a documentary film that has been produced about the history of World Championship Tennis, the 1960’s tennis tour that significantly accelerated the growth of pro tennis and laid the groundwork for today’s pro tours.

In the 1960’s, pro tennis players were faced with numerous challenges in developing viable playing careers- compensation was inadequate, they were ineligible for the biggest tournaments, and it was a challenge to keep fans engaged in a sport that lacked structure. Recognizing the potential to build a dynamic platform on which tennis could thrive as a pro sport, trailblazers Lamar Hunt and Al Hill, Jr. developed World Championship Tennis (WCT), a radical new tour that gave tennis a new professionalism and strength. WCT: The Road to Open Tennis traces the tour’s early years of the “The Handsome Eight” through the climactic 1972 championship in Dallas between Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, which became known as the “greatest match of all time.” The five-set battle played out before a packed stadium and a record TV audience of 23 million viewers, signaling to the world that tennis was well on its way to becoming a viable, exciting pro sport.

“WCT could be said to have started as a wild dream. But once the dream took hold and was defined, it pointed professional tennis in the direction it needed to go. Those players who became a part of WCT, especially the early ones who signed on, helped to change something that was in sore need of change,” said Lamar Hunt, Jr., son of the tour’s owner and promoter, the late Lamar Hunt.

The world premiere of WCT: The Road to Open Tennis will be held at the Casino Theatre at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. on Saturday, October 11 at 7:30 pm.

Hall of Famers Cliff Drysdale, Butch Buchholz, and Mike Davies will all attend the premiere and participate in a pre-film cocktail reception and a post-film panel discussion to be moderated by tennis historian Steve Flink.

Drysdale and Buchholz were members of The Handsome Eight of World Championship Tennis – the tour’s first players. Davies served as Executive Director of WCT from 1968-1981 and was pivotal in the tour’s success, putting then radical ideas into play such as television broadcasts of matches. Members of the Hunt family will also participate in the premiere, including Al Hill, Jr. and Lamar Hunt, Jr., who served as a ball boy in his father’s venture.

Hunt, Jr. commented, “The film showcases the challenges WCT faced, as well as how the tour and the players who were involved in it really paved the way for pro tennis as we know it today. As WCT played such a pivotal role in the history of tennis, it was a natural fit to premiere the film at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, which does such a tremendous job of preserving and celebrating the rich history of the sport. We look forward to a great night in Newport.”

Tickets for the film are $15 for the general public and $10 for Hall of Fame Members. Tickets for the film and the pre-show cocktail reception are $75 for non-members and $65 for Hall of Fame Members. Tickets are available now on or by calling 401-849-3990.

WCT: The Road to Open Tennis features historic match footage of some of the greatest players of all time, interspersed with interviews with key individuals involved with the tour. Butch Buchholz, Cliff Drysdale, and Dennis Ralston, who were among the tour’s first players are featured, along with the leaders who were hard at work to make it all possible, including Mike Davies and Al Hill, Jr. The film was produced with the support of the family of the late Lamar Hunt and his nephew Al Hill, Jr.

For additional information visit or call 401-849-3990.