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Volume 25 No. 155
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Weekend Plans With ATP N.Y. Open Tournament Dir Josh Ripple

Ripple (l) pictured with Kevin Anderson, winner of the inaugural ATP N.Y. Open last year
Photo: ATP

N.Y. Open Tournament Dir JOSH RIPPLE this weekend helps kick off the second iteration of the ATP event after a strong first year on Long Island. Ripple, the former CEO of the WTA (and if we're going way back, a former men’s varsity tennis coach at George Washington), is anxious to capitalize on fan interest. Ripple: “The first weekend of these tournaments is as or even more important than finals weekend in that it’s a first impression.” Ripple took THE DAILY through his weekend on the ground in the lead-up to Sunday qualifying, including a behind-the-scenes look at the player party and how he manages to stay fresh and engaged traveling back and forth from N.Y. to his family in southern California.

BUILDING TO SUNDAY: We started our overall push on Thursday with both our team and execs from Nassau County raising the net to kick off the event. Some players typically come in that afternoon, so our team is up and ready in full-blown service mode. Then Friday the majority of the players come in, so it’s another operations day. Programming then really kicks off Saturday morning with a free event, the “New York Tennis Expo” in partnership with United Sports Publications. We had about 4,000 people come last year, which is pretty cool for a non-playing day. Players will be practicing, and it’ll really be a sports/recreation-type festival. It was a fantastic way to debut the event in the market last year. This year early-registration is up to 7,000 people, and let’s hope that number rings true. Players will engage with fans and we’ll also have seminars from coaches. Representatives from the Islanders will also be here. It’s just a great day of everyone getting juiced up and getting some exposure.

UNDER THE LIGHTS: Then we have Opening Night, which kicks off at 6:00pm ET under the header, “Taste of New York Open.” It will star celebrity chef DAVID BURKE and will be co-hosted by ANDY RODDICK and JIM COURIER. It also serves as the official ATP Player Party and is the lead-in to our first ticketed event on the stadium court. That’ll go about 6:00-7:30, then we’ll present a skills challenge (basically tennis’ version of a drive-chip-and-putt). Tennis is one of the only sports that doesn’t have one of those types of events. Then at 8:00 we’ll bring out Andy and Jim for a two-out-of-three match. Sunday, we start qualifying at 11:00am and it runs through the entire day.

MATCH POINT: Once the competition starts, I’m all about being with the fans, entertaining guests, making sure that the players and the Tour are happy. I see very few balls hit over the course of the week. It’s probably the least important element of my job. The most important element is to ensure that the players have the best possible stage to play. I’m a fan, it’s fun to see great matches, but it’s not integral to the role.

COAST TO COAST: I have family both in N.Y. and California, but a typical weekend for me is trying to get a plane back to the West Coast and see my wife and kids. I’m fortunate to have a beautiful place to work and hangout in N.Y. and then also have a great personal life out in southern California. It’s a lot of traveling, but I’m not complaining. Unfortunately, I'm somewhat of a work-alcoholic, it’s hard to break away. On those 6-hour flights it’s often three-quarters work and maybe catch one good movie or episode of a TV series.

Know of someone who should be featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot a note over to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.