When former Baylor standout Zoltan Papp throws a reunion, he does it in a big way. And this time, the Dallas Tennis Classic tournament director has had more time to plan this years event.For the inaugural DTC last year, Papp had less than three months to get the ATP Challenger event off the ground. This time Papp, who played for the Bears from 1999-2003, has had more time to prepare to entertain his college roommate and ATP Tour pro Benjamin Becker, and a few other friends.We were roommates, classmates and teammates at Baylor, Papp said of Becker. He definitely made me look good in doubles. Its kind of like a reunion now that I dont travel on the tour as a manager. Its good to have these guys come around once a year.And tennis fans are invited to attend this reunion scheduled for March 11-17 at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving.Honestly, were looking at it almost like its our second chance at a first year, Papp said. The first time, we got the green light so late that we only had 2 1/2 months to get everything together. This is the first time weve had time to properly prepare.Part of the preparation has including the signing of a presenting sponsor Zodiac Watches and make improvements around the site.But on the court is where this years tournament is showing its strength. The early entries list includes nine players ranked in the top 50, including four in the top 30, and Papp expects more top players to sign on soon.Leading the list is No. 11-ranked Marin Cilic of Croatia and No. 19 Tommy Haas of Germany, along with Feliciano Lopez, who is coming off an appearance in the finals at Memphis last week, and Austin resident and Shreveport, La., native Ryan Harrison.Were thrilled, Papp said. We feel like weve got a fantastic field with Marin Cilic and Tommy Haas. Its kind of ironic that we had to give Tommy a wild card last year, and this year, hes coming in as the second-best player in the draw.Haas reached the final in San Jose last month before losing to Milos Roanic. Last year in Irving, Haas advanced to the semifinals before pulling out with a back injury.More entries will be announced in the coming days. The tournament falls between the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla. Players who are eliminated early in Indian Wells can enter the Dallas Tennis Classic.I know we are [nine] days away, but its still very early in the game [to predict who will receive wild cards], Papp said. Its an incredible list were looking at: Jack Sock, [Marco] Baghdatis, [Gael] Monfils, Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake, [David] Nalbandian, then after that well kind of wait and see.Well look at the first two rounds of results from Indian Wells and then well see what other players might be interested and available to play in our tournament.The Dallas Tennis Classic features the highest level of prize money on the ATP Challenger Tour ($125,000). It also enjoys an exception from other challenger events in that players ranked 11-50 are allowed to enter, and those ranked top 10 in the world are allowed to receive a wild card into the 32-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles draw.Tickets are on sale at DallasTennisClassic.com; admission is free for qualifying rounds. Tickets begin at $20 for main-draw play.Briefly• The Arlington Tennis Association Inter-League tournament is scheduled for 4 p.m. March 16 at the Arlington Tennis Center. The tournament includes six-player teams (21-over). Entry deadline is March 9. Cost is $19 per player ($10 non-player guest fee). Proceeds will assist ATCs Senior Mixed 8.0 travel to the National Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn., on March 21-24. Contact Claire Harrison at 817-797-3601.• The USTA Texas will conduct tennis festivals at more than 30 locations throughout Texas this month. The festivals are designed for the whole family, all ages and skill levels. Local sites include the Southwest Community Center in Fort Worth (Monday, 817-392-7613), Greenbriar Estates in Grapevine (March 17, 817-329-5570) and Southlake Tennis Center (March 22, 817-421-5605). For additional information go to youthtennis.com.
Rusty Hall, 817-390-7816 Twitter: @RustyHall10s