Memorial Weekend, May 27-30, 2011, GGP, San Francisco
The United States Gay Open (USGO) is over 30 and it looks marvelous. For four days over Memorial Day weekend (May 27-30) players from all over the world will converge in San Francisco for great camaraderie, renewed friendships and the chance to play in North America's biggest and best gay and lesbian tennis tournament. Registration is open, and it's easy -- to learn more clickhere. GLTF's Alex Lin has taken up the challenge of Directing this historic tournament. After working with and learning from the exceptional and indefatigable Dave Campbell, Alex is looking forward to helping guide the USGO to the next stage in its storied history. Alex was gracious enough to agree to interview with Ad/Out:
Mr. Director, have you settled into your role as the Tournament Director of the 2011 United States Gay Open?
I think so. The initial trauma from the thought of having to plan such a big event steeped with history has passed. The role of director really is about organizing and supervising, to make sure every aspect of the tournament is covered.
Actually, you took on a big role during the 2010 USGO, assisting Dave Campbell, correct?
Yes, I was in charge of most things directly related to all the tennis matches – registration, seeding, draws, scheduling.
What part of the job of director is the most fun, thus far?
The most interesting and fun part is to try to come up with new ideas to make the tournament more fun and efficient for the players. My goal is to make every player feel like a VIP when they are out on the courts playing their hearts out. I want them to focus completely on their tennis game and not have to worry about anything else.
What part of the job is the most challenging?
There are two things that are challenging. One, since we are moving back to Golden Gate Park this year. I basically have had to plan the tournament as if it were brand new – things like negotiations for courts, host hotels, banquetfacilities all have taken a lot of effort. The other challenging piece of running a tournament is something I experienced last year and I am hopeful I will encounter less of this year – players should try to understand that we can’t please everyone in every way. We often have people asking for certain times off, registering for a different level than they should, and/or complaining about their draw, their seeding, and their match time – it takes a lot of energy and patience to deal with this, and it can be very stressful. I hope people understand that everyone on the tournament committee, including myself, is a volunteer, and we are all doing our best to organize a good tournament for everybody. There is one great tip I learned from Dave last year though – the next time someone comes up to me to question the seeding, that person will have automatically volunteered to be on the seeding committee the following year.
Does it sometimes feel like you are producing/directing a Broadway show?
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to produce or direct a Broadway show. So you should ask me again in 15-20 years, when I will be in New York directing my first Broadway musical. I imagine there are lots of similarities and each has its own difficulties – organizing people, negotiating with vendors, seeking donors and sponsors.
This year the tournament will return to San Francisco after a few years in Palo Alto, many people are excited about the return to the city – what are the most positive aspects of the return to San Francisco?
Most players liked Stanford for the stadium atmosphere. Since they’re hosting the NCAA Championships this year, we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring the tournament back to GGP. The courts were just resurfaced in the fall of 2010, and since it’s so close to home for those of us in SF, it will be convenient to have the tournament there. We are planning a few things to bring some excitement during the weekend, and the benefit of having it here in SF is to have people coming out to support their friends, even on the last day of the tournament when it will be just the finals.
Tell us about some of the interesting features of the 2011 USGO?
One new feature is that we will have ball boys and girls for all the final matches on Monday. Our beneficiary this year is Youth Tennis Advantage, and the kids in this great organization will be helping us out, which, along with USTA officials, will make for a very exciting final day of thetournament. I’m also working very hard to get more funds so we can have a great variety in our lunch options this year. So if anyone thinks that their employer may be interested in being a sponsor, please let me know. Another new feature will be the draw party. In previous years, the draw was done by the computer. This year, I am planning a manual draw where we will actually draw names out of a bowl. Sports Basement is sponsoring this event, which will be held one week before the tournament begins. There will be complimentary wine, beer, snacks, and everyone there will receive a significant discount on purchases made that evening.
I am sure you’ll need a whole cadre of volunteers – in which areas will you be needing help?
A tournament this size can’t possibly happen without volunteers, and we need two sets of volunteers. The first set will be volunteers interested in a leadership role to help plan the tournament. So far, we have Allison Duke and Katy Atkinson working on the parties, and Steve Brown and Aamir Vaid wiring on sponsors and donors. We also have Zoe Heimdel who designed the 2011 USGO logo and is handling promotion materials for us this year. There are two positions that need to be filled at the moment: a food coordinator and a public relations director. The food coordinator will serve as a liaison to the caterers and plan out all the food and snack needs over the four days of the event. The public relations director will help us promote the event to the general Bay Area community. One of the goals of the GLTF Board this year is to reach out beyond the gay tennis community, so this person will have the important function of coordinating local media. The second set of volunteers will be the folks helping out at the event itself. This will include setting up, purchasing food and snacks, transporting players, registering players, assigning courts, cleaning up. It will be crucial to have as much help as possible to help make sure the tournament runs smoothly.
How can members volunteer?For those who are interested in volunteering or have ideas for the tournament, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you didn’t understand how last year’s seeds were determined, contact me now so we can get you on the seeding committee. If you know someone who might be interested in providing massage therapy at the tournament or making a donation to help our auction or raffle, please let me know.