Two professional-level tennis tournaments will stir up a racket in Austin with the DropShot Tournament Series, which will feature a women's tournament October 25-31 and a men's tournament November 15-21.
The weeklong tournaments will have a $25,000 reward for their top competitors and will be held at the Texas Tennis Center in partnership with the University of Texas. The women's tournament is also sponsored by H-E-B.
The DropShot Tournament series was founded in 2019 by Austin FC co-owner Bryan Sheffield, an Austin entrepreneur who also founded Parsley Energy and Formentera Partners. Sheffield recruited former world championship tennis doubles player Christo Van Rensburg as the tournament's director.
In two years, the DropShot series has sought to bring experience to University of Texas players, young professional athletes and others as they look to up their rankings on the world stage.
"With each passing year, the tournaments get bigger, and the competition stiffer," Rensburg said. "As players from across the globe travel to Austin, we look forward to putting on an event that will give these professionals, of all ages, a chance to improve their world ranking and make money, while providing this city with a front-row seat to, this, our 3rd year of pro tennis tournaments. "
The tournaments will be free to the public, but ticketing will be limited. The third annual tournament will also live stream on the H-E-B Women's Pro Tennis Open for their semifinal and final rounds on Oct. 30-31 and for the DropShot Series Men's Pro Tennis Open on Nov. 20-21.
Longhorn athletes Jacob Bullard and Micah Braswell won big for their home tournament at the men's doubles champions last year, while Fernanda Labrana and Marta Perez Mur were finalists for the women's doubles competition in 2020. The women's duo were finalists in 2019 as well.
The DropShot Series is part of USTA Pro Circuit Events on the ITF World Tennis Tour, the world's governing body of tennis. For information on the event, ticketing and more, click here.
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In the latest play on the "Eyes of Texas" chessboard, the NAACP of Texas, its University of Texas chapter and five anonymous UT students have filed a civil rights complaint against the school for creating a "hostile environment" for Black students as the school continues to back its controversial alma mater.
According to The Texas Tribune, the complaint says that the continued playing of the alma mater and failure to address racial harassment against the song's opponents and Black students violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The school decided that the song had "no clear racist intent" after research in the spring and continues to support the playing of the alma mater. But those who disagree cite that the song debuted at a minstrel show where students likely wore blackface.
In response to continued pushback while facing pressure from angry donors supporting the song, the school decided to create a second band in which students do not have to play the song. The complaint states that this decision "violates equal protections afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment" according to the Tribune.
A member of student activist group Cops off Campus that staged a protest against the song at the school's annual "Gone To Texas" event, said that the separate band decision wasn't a solution to their demands. The student wished to remain anonymous to avoid backlash.
"The establishment of separate bands, really only solves part of the issue," the member said. "If a band still exists, and the school song is still 'The Eyes of Texas,' and it's still being played, then nothing is fundamentally changed. So it's not really any meaningful compromise."
The complaint states that continuing to keep the song "despite its racially offensive origin, context and meaning" leaves many Black students uncomfortable and unable to fully enjoy their college experience. In the complaint, five anonymous students said they felt ostracized by the university for not agreeing with the playing of the alma mater.
The NAACP filed the complaint one day before the Longhorns' first football game and a few weeks after the first protest of the song this semester, when a few dozen student activists protested the song at the school's annual "Gone to Texas" event.
The complaint and protests this semester show that the "Eyes of Texas" issue is far from over.
"If they don't take our demands seriously, we're going to continue to disrupt their events," the member said.
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It's no secret that Austin's growing. But that growth, from the tech boom to the real estate explosion, can sometimes overshadow the qualities that made Austin a low-key darling and tourist favorite in the first place.
Thankfully, all around our city are smaller towns that happily embrace the old-Austin life. From live music and quirky characters to swimming holes and delicious Tex-Mex and barbecue joints, here are five places where you can enjoy the things you love about Austin while escaping the crowds.
Located 30 miles southeast of Austin with a population of about 9,000, Bastrop in recent years has become a microcosm of many of the things people have always loved about Austin. Take, for example, the film scene–several film studios are already in operation there, and another 546-acre film studio and movie-making facility recently received a green light from the city.
Bastrop also counts some celebrities among its residents, including actor Adrian Grenier, who relocated from Hollywood during the pandemic. In terms of food, the offerings are wide and varied, including a new restaurant by Austin Chef Sonya Cote, who opened Store House Market + Eatery there late last year. Expect a quaint yet bustling downtown brimming with boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars as well as plentiful outdoor activities thanks to the city's location on the Colorado River.
"I am always honored when a new resident tells me they decided to move here after they had a great first visit," said Bastrop Mayor Connie Schroeder. "I promise, you will not be disappointed if you take a break from driving and check out Bastrop.
Sure, Austin has Barton Springs and the Greenbelt, but Dripping Springs has Hamilton Pool Preserve and Reimers Ranch, two destinations known for offering activities such as swimming, mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing in a bucolic, Hill Country setting.
Located about 25 miles west of Austin with a population of about 7,500, Dripping Springs is also a hub for unique craft beverages and is home to more than 35 wineries, breweries and distilleries including Treaty Oak Distilling, Desert Door, Ghost Note Brewing and Driftwood Estate Winery. It's also become a destination for brides looking for an Austin alternative–it has even been designated the Wedding Capital of Texas by the Texas Legislature.
"It's a town that is full of artisans, innovators and really rad people," said Hope Boatright of Destination Dripping Springs, "making some really cool and tasty things."
We may love our live music in Austin, but Gruene can rival our concert calendar thanks to the star-studded line-up that regularly plays at Gruene Hall, from Gary P. Nunn to Bob Schneider. But there's more to Gruene (pronounced green) than just its famous dancehall, which was built in 1878 and also happens to be the oldest in Texas.
Like Austin, Gruene is set on water–the Guadalupe and Comal rivers, to be exact–making it an excellent place to swim, wade or tube (spelled toob, if you're a local) in the summer. It's also got artisan ice cream (Rhea's), antiquing (Gruene Antique Company) and requisite cowboy hats (Gruene Hat Company). Gruene's population is said to technically be 20, but it's located within New Braunfels, where the countywide population is more like 78,000.
"It's impossible to have a bad time in Gruene, whether you're a visitor looking for your first Stetson to wear while two-steppin' in Gruene Hall or a local looking for a good meal at the Gristmill," said Gruene Hat Company's Cody Courtney. "It's a small-town throwback in time that caters to everyone."
Located in Hays County with a population of 15,000, Buda (pronounced byoo-da) is a small town that, like Austin, has big love for the arts. From concerts and theater performances at the Buda Amphitheater and City Park to the Inspired Minds Art Center, a haven and gallery space for artists of various backgrounds, there's something for the artist in everyone.
The newish Buck's Backyard features a full line-up of big-name musical acts, and Louie's Craft BBQ, which was formerly based in Austin, now regularly ranks among the best barbecue joints in the state. A Main Street Sip and Stroll (aka drink wine and shop) and weekly farmers market only add to Buda's laidback vibe.
"Buda is a lovely small town that is unique–it's not quite rural and not quite suburban either," said Buda City Manager Kenneth Williams. "We have an ideal location contiguous to Austin and close to San Marcos and San Antonio and at the foot of the Hill Country. We enjoy our quaintness and small-town charm."
With a population of around 17,000, the Williamson County town of Taylor packs a lot of Austin-style fun into a small space. Whether you're strolling the nine-block downtown that's chock full of boutiques and antiques shops or hitting up one of several local barbecue joints–including the famous Louie Mueller Barbecue–it's easy to discover something new and unexpected.
Since 2009, more than 20 companies have expanded to or relocated to Taylor, according to the Taylor Chamber of Commerce. The town also made headlines last month for hosting its first official Pride event supporting the LGBTQ community.
"Taylor is known for barbecue, but it's home to so much more," said writer Addie Broyles, who attended Taylor Pride and wrote about it on her website. She recommends a visit to Old Taylor High, a mixed-use development inside the former high school campus that features a bar, vintage store and arcade games, and called the Pride event "the ultimate celebration of what makes Taylor feel so special."
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Flights may be in high demand, but just as many people are taking to the road as they look for their first post-COVID vacation this summer.
For those in Texas, road-tripping may be easier than you'd think: the state was ranked second-best for road-tripping this summer in a WalletHub study. According to the personal finance site, over two-thirds of people in the U.S. are taking a vacation this summer, and 59% of people said they'd rather drive than fly.
Based on 33 key metrics, Texas was just behind New York as the best state to road trip through.
With the fourth-most attractions, third-lowest gas prices and ninth-lowest cost, Texas's sprawling countryside provides more bang-for-your-buck journeying through the Lone Star State. It was also found to have the most restaurants per capita of any other state in a previous WalletHub study.
With the fourth-most attractions, road trippers are bound to find something to see from West Texas' desert beauty to South Padre Island's esteemed beaches. Just make sure to bring a friend: the state ranked 34th in overall safety.
From camping to city hopping, Texas is packed with natural wonders and modern fun sure to entertain any vacation planners as the summer heats up.
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