BB&T Atlanta Open Media Walk-Through
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
I’ll be onsite to cover the BB&T Atlanta Open, which starts Saturday and runs all of next week for Tennis East Coast. Today, I took part in the media walk-through for local Atlanta Area media. This walk-through was a great chance to talk with media director Ron Cioffi, get a feel of the brand new grounds, and get a lot more info on how the whole tournament will go down.
The BB&T Atlanta Open, which is the 1st tournament on the Emirates US Open Series and an ATP World Tour 250 tournament, is going to be held right in the heart of midtown Atlanta, with the backdrop of the ATL skyline. It will be held inside the unique area that is Atlantic Station, a work, live and play style community that in addition to the tennis, will feature plenty of restaurants, shopping and other activities for fans and others to partake. There are 3 competition courts where singles and doubles matches will take place. The Stadium and Grandstand sit adjacent to each other while court 3 is just a short walk away, next to the 3 practice courts. This tournament is special on the ATP World Tour, as it is held right in the heart of a major city, rather than uptown or in the suburbs.
This is my first time covering the Open, but it was held the last 2 years at the suburban tennis club Racquet Club of the South (which you may know as it is where Melanie Oudin and a few other tennis pros from Atlanta have trained), and plans to remain at Atlantic Station for at least the next 3 years. Because of this location change and an exciting field that will feature the entire US Mens Olympic singles team of Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison, John Isner and Donald Young (both local favorites) and others including Kei Nishikori, the inspiring Brian Baker and defending champ Mardy Fish, ticket sales are up 30%. Roddick said in a conference call today with Tennis East Coast and other media that he plans to give “100% effort in Atlanta” as he prepares for the Olympics. The event has a new title sponsor in BB&T, as does the US Open Series with Emirates Airlines and is managed jointly by USTA Southern and USTA National. The tournament director is Bob Bryant.
In addition to the top notch tennis courts, including a Stadium court that seats a little over 3,600, the Open will have a variety of events for the whole family, including a Publix Family Zone that will feature 10 and under tennis, a vendors row for tennis fans to browse and shop, and the roving USTA Smash Zone, that features Wii games and other activities for kids, and maybe adults too.
The action starts Saturday with 1st round qualifying at 9 AM, and that will be quite an exciting day. In addition to 1st round qualifying action, the band Sister Hazel will perform at the draw ceremony that evening and top South African player and former Illinois Fighting Illinistar Kevin Anderson will be on hand along with American veteran James Blake to comment on the draw. On top of all that, on Sunday evening, Mardy Fish and Ryan Harrison will team up with local Atlanta chefs and battle it out in a cookoff. Finally, that afternoon, media members will take part in a 10 and under tennis tournament that I’ve heard can be quite competitive. A full list of events can be found here http://www.bbtatlantaopen.com/TournamentInformation/Special_Events/?intloc=headernavsub
Speaking of the media, our accommodations are excellent, inside a newly renovated building right across from the main stadium court, the player locker rooms, players lounge and press conference room. It will be quite ‘up close and personal’, as all are in the same building.
In short, the BB&T Atlanta Open promises to be exciting and fun-filled from start to finish. If you are in the Atlanta area, tickets are still available, with a variety of options to chose from. There are plenty of reasons to come out and watch some of the world-class action and take part in the various events. I’ll have a full preview of the ATP player field on Friday.