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“I’m not sure they completely understand this tournament’s $26 million impact not only on the city, but on the region,” she said. “At some point, we have to do a better job explaining that.”

David Treadwell, a spokesman for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said the state could help the tournament make some business contacts, but has not been asked.

Widmaier offered hope for the New Haven tournament by noting that tennis has not had a major problem with sponsors, even with the poor economy.

Mercedez-Benz recently stepped in to take on the title sponsorship of the men’s tournament in Los Angeles, and the USTA had to step in and move a struggling tournament in Indianapolis to Atlanta, where it is looking for a title sponsor.

“You see some pockets of this,” he said. “On the other hand, you see some tremendous longtime sponsors out there.”

New Haven has a lot of things to offer a sponsor, he said. The tournament is nationally televised on two networks. It appeals to fans of both men’s and women’s tennis and is played just as interest is peaking for the U.S. Open.

But the tournament’s draw has traditionally suffered from its spot on the schedule. Many top players choose to take the week before a major tournament off. Others ask for a wildcard entry just before it begins because they feel they need more matches to prepare for the major.

This year, players including local favorite James Blake, Samantha Stoser and Ana Ivanovic all received wildcards in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Ivanovic, who withdrew Friday because of an ankle injury, said she would like to see the players become more involved in helping tournaments get and retain sponsors.

“I don’t know how much it does concern (players), but I think it should,” she said during a promotional appearance Thursday. “I think it’s a great thing if players can take a little more time and help the tournament out and do sponsor visits and do clinics, because it means a lot to the tournaments.”

Worcester said that the past six months have been the toughest of her career, but that she’s confident the work will pay off and the tournament will be in New Haven for good.

“Now me,” she said, “I may keel over after next week.”