The preparations that make the W&S Open a player favorite

07/27/2016 07:21 PM

The Western & Southern Open has a long history of being considered a “players’ tournament”. About three weeks out from the start of the tournament, the grounds are starting to come alive as volunteers and staff work tirelessly on the little things that make this tournament a favorite amongst the players.

“This is when you start seeing changes every single day,” explained W&S Open Director of Marketing, Will Sikes, “whether it’s 25,000 flowers that are grown specially for this event to peak during August that are being put in the ground, or volunteers coming out, 1,400 of them, and getting with their committees, and putting together their different areas. Whether it be the players lounge, the ushers or the transportation drivers, you can see a little bit of something happening every single day. The tent going up, the food court being built, it’s just a completely dynamic place this time of the year.”

With a small full-time staff, it’s the volunteers that come from all over the ti-state that really make the tournament run. “The volunteers are the backbone of the event. Many of them have been here a lot longer than some of the staff members. We’ve got 1,400 total volunteers. They touch every single facet of the event. It’s a total team event here and they really support the staff. They’re so fan-focused. Our volunteers love the fans and try to make it a great, hospitable event, which we’re so known for,” explains Sikes.

The Western & Southern Open is also know for being a favorite of players like Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. Year after year, tennis players rave about the tournament and how much they love coming to play in Cincinnati. “I think it’s a couple things. First of all, we’re in a perfect week before the US Open, and every player wants to win the US Open, so what can they do here?” says Sikes. “Well they can prepare on the exact same courts, the exact same climate, the exact same time zone as the US Open.”

“Secondly, it’s Midwestern. I think players, whether they have families, significant others or they’re just traveling with their team, it’s an opportunity to have a little bit of down time. They can relax in a little bit of anonymity here,” Sikes explains. “They’re not walking down Central Park and being mobbed by fans. It’s a chill event for them. They can really focus on tennis, and getting the rankings points, the prize money, and then obviously getting ready for the US Open.”

The W&S Open is loved not only by the players, but also the fans. They’re currently on pace to surpass last year’s record attendance numbers of almost 200,000 fans during tournament week, which this year begins August 13.

Kaci Kust

Kaci joined cn|2 in May 2012 and is a graduate of Hope College in Michigan where she earned a degree in journalism. After playing basketball in college, Kaci chose to follow her passion for sports and become a sports reporter. In fact, she says if she wasn’t covering athletics for a living, she’d still be up early checking scores and stats. Follow Kaci on Twitter @KaciKustCN2.


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