Weekend Plans With Octagon VPs Kelly Wolf & Alastair Garland
Tennis is a big deal at Octagon, as the agency manages 16 events around the globe and reps more than 70 players in the sport. That strength in tennis means the U.S. Open is circled on the Octagon calendar long before matches start up at the Billie Jean King Center every summer. This year, the agency has 19 team members on site to help carry out business initiatives and support its 21 clients competing in the event, including FRANCES TIAFOE and KAROLINA PLISKOVA. With the tourney currently in third round action, THE DAILY caught up with two Octagon VPs to get their weekend plans. KELLY WOLF serves as an agent to multiple athletes, personalities, and tennis players (one of only three female agents to rep male tennis players), and also oversees Octagon's efforts surrounding major tennis tournaments. ALASTAIR GARLAND manages the Octagon tennis division.
ON THE GO
Wolf: Most days are planned around the match schedule when our clients are playing. We have a base at a small hotel in the city where we have all our staff and a big chunk of our clients. We stay here with a hotel suite we use as an office, and everybody comes and goes as they need to. It’s a good place to get yourself focused on the work you need to do.
Garland: All of the key stakeholders from the tennis industry move into N.Y. for a fourteen-day period. It’s a pretty intense time. You’re doing client meetings, meetings with your various tournament partners around the world, existing sponsors, potential new sponsors, as well as handling appearances for your players. It really runs the gamut.
Wolf: From the hotel we jump on the USTA bus to get over to the site in the morning. Tuesday for example I had two meetings (one with a clothing/shoe manufacturer and one on a new ATP social push), then we’re working in the luxury suite at Arthur Ashe. All of a sudden, three hours have gone by and Tiafoe’s match was coming up on court 17, so I go and watch. Luckily, he won and played really well. Then I hung around and setup his media availability. Then you get back to the hotel and all of a sudden it’s 10:00pm when you sit down for dinner. The day started in the gym at 7:00am and ended at 10:00.
Garland: You get up early and get a couple emails out before you go on-site. At the end of the day it’s a lot of work-related dinners, and then you send a few more emails before getting up and starting it all over again the next morning. I view it like going to the gym. You’re not necessarily looking forward to it, but once you’ve done it you definitely feel like it’s been a productive time. It’s a great opportunity to get a lot done over a 14-day period. Everybody that you need to see is here, and nothing substitutes being able to sit in front of someone versus emails or phone calls. This is my 15th U.S. Open with Octagon and my 17th overall after a previous run with Adidas. It gets bigger every year. There are site upgrades, more fan experiences, more prize money -- it’s come a long way.
Wolf: I also have a couple clients outside of tennis, one of whom is BILL COWHER. He loves tennis and is coming out this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. He’s very self-sufficient, but he likes to say, "Hey let’s go do this, walk with me over to watch this match." It’s great.
Garland: When it comes to dinners, I go wherever the client wants to go. They’re very used to routine. Outside of that, you often end up going with convenience because you don’t have a ton of time. Something close to the hotel usually. But personally, I do like Nobu Sushi on 57th and Tuscany Steakhouse on 58th.
Wolf: We stayed in Murray Hill for over 10 years, and we have our favorite spots. Last weekend we did a staff dinner at El Rio Grande on 38th and 3rd. Then we also get a good burger at Rare Bar & Grill in the Shelburne Hotel. Tiafoe loves this hole-in-the-wall spot called Sam’s Place on 39th that we found years and years ago. He’s pretty superstitious so we ate there on Monday night before his match and we went back Wednesday. Park Avenue Tavern is our go-to-place when it’s really late.
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