On Thursday, we had a great conversation with the First Mother of American Tennis, Patricia Jensen, who is also serving as Director of tournament operations for the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, Georgia next weekend. When we learned that Jensen raised four children who played professional tennis at some point in their lives, doubling our guess, it became clear that she is easily up to the task of organizing a national event with international implications.
Jensen confirmed that USTA Director of Player Development Patrick McEnroe will once again be playing in the WTT Exhibition match on Friday night, and although Courier is not 100% confirmed to play as of the date of the interview, the tournament will set up separate cheering sections for each player. They’re even bringing in the Master of Ceremonies from the Kansas City Explorers and a US Marines Color Guard with US and Australian flags. Finally, there will be the singing of both national anthems to open the ceremonies on Saturday night.
The Player party on Friday night is sponsored and inspired by Outback Steakhouse, and will include decorating the entire banquet room in Aussie flair complete with didgeridoos. Only Australian wines will be served at the event. Unfortunately, Foster’s and Cooper’s will not be served due to other brewer commitments.
The Australian theme is pervasive, and could include kangaroos again on display during kid’s day activities on Saturday. Kid’s day activities are Jensen’s personal favorites. “Last year, we did as much as we could to create a virtual experience in Australia”. An entire ‘Down Under Village’ is once again under construction, and consultation and items will again be provided by the Australian Embassy in Washington and the Australian Business Consulate in Atlanta to authenticize the event.
The Racquet Club of the South will also be the first location outside of Australia to purchase official 2012 Australian Open commemorative posters, It’s a great gift for a tennis fan.
Jensen readily made her case when asked if Atlanta was the “best tennis town” in the United States. “We are the world capital of tennis”, she declared, and noting that Atlanta didn’t even enter itself into the 2010 nationwide contest. Without campaigning, it came in second to Charleston, S.C. “Atlanta has 12 different competitive leagues, 125,000 recreational players and a magazine distribution of 87,000. ALTA is very competitive with the USTA.” It appears the USTA also knows there’s tennis gold in those Georgia hills.
Jensen was diplomatic when asked who would get the biggest cheers at Racquet Club of the South next weekend. Jamie Hampton used to drive from Birmingham, Alabama every day to train at RCS. Although Melanie Oudin may train in Boca Raton as of late, “she will always be from Marietta”. On the men’s side, she expects crowd support for Bobby Reynolds, but notes that “Atlanta loves Jesse Levine and fell in love with Robby Ginepri”.
Though Tennis Maryland won’t be in Norcross until Thursday, there will be interview opportunities with Irina Falconi and Donald Young on Wednesday, with a possible hit with Young and the press. We are truly crushed. If you’re weren’t already, we bet you wish you were going to the Wild Card Playoffs now.