BB&T Atlanta Open Welcomes Venus Williams

Image result for venus williams
Image courtesy of CBSnews.com

The BB&T Atlanta Open is a men’s tournament. It is the kickoff to the annual Emirates US Open Series. So why is Venus Williams coming this year?

Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez has worked hard to set this event apart, striking a deal with Atlantic Station, an Intown Atlanta mixed use development that builds center court smack dab in the middle of the city with an incredible skyline view. The players comment each year how much they love staying on site, riding in the golf carts to and from the courts, having so many options for dining and entertainment at their fingertips. For the 2017 tournament, he’s taken things a step further, investing in shaded seating (for those of you who have attended the BB&T in the past, you know how stinkin’ hot it can get out there!) and more on-site dining and entertainment for tournament patrons.

One additional step Gonzalez has taken this year is to include an exhibition match between Venus Williams and Canadian Genie Bouchard. This morning, I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with Venus – what a treat! Here’s what she had to say about coming back to Atlanta for the first time in many years . . .

“I can’t believe I haven’t played more in Atlanta in my career! And Atlanta’s such a huge tennis town that I know the love will come from both sides, with me being excited to play there and from the fans getting to watch some great women’s tennis.”

I asked her if she’s going to have a chance to do any youth outreach while she’s here. She said, “I think that’s a great idea. We definitely should look into that! We have a really full schedule but maybe during the day before the match – I would love that!”

I followed up with a question regarding Venus’ role as a role model for young players coming up. She reminded me that she’s been involved in several programs that work with kids and other programs that work specifically in tennis. She said she sees herself marrying those two types of outreach to show kids how great tennis can be and how they can benefit from it.

When asked about the young up and coming American players, Venus said she’s excited about the great players on the rise. “It’s a learning curve”, she said, “and they need time to develop and enjoy the game. They have plenty of time since people are now extending their careers well into their 30s.”  Regarding French Open Juniors champion, Whitney Osuigwe, Venus advises that she should give herself time to develop her game. “Winning the Jr French Open demonstrates that she definitely has the tools!”

If you’re going to be in the Atlanta area July 22-30 (you could just hang out after your junior plays in #theSol!), please be sure to come out to Atlantic Station and watch some amazing pro tennis. For more information on the BB&T Atlanta Open and to get tickets, click here. Hope to see you there!

 

Super Fans of College Tennis

Cliff Hayashi

 

Clifford Hayashi and Bob Ruff traveled all the way from Northern California to Athens, Georgia, just to cheer on the Stanford women’s tennis team in this year’s NCAA Championships.

When I first saw them at the Stanford women’s Round of 16 match on the indoor courts of Georgia Tech, I figured they were the parents or grandparents of two of the players. I mean, who else would be cheering that loudly and that enthusiastically at a college tennis match?

I started asking around and found out that, no, in fact, they are not directly connected to any one of the players but are instead hopelessly devoted to each and every one of them. Both men share their thoughts on what supporting these athletes means to them and why they do it in the short interviews below. You can find more interviews from the NCAAs on the ParentingAces YouTube channel.