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October 23, 2014

Stacey Allaster

Peter Johnston

Lydia Long

HEATHER BOWLER:  Thank you very much indeed for joining us on another very exciting day in the world of women's tennis.
Just like introduce myself very quickly.  I am Heather Bowler, senior vice president, WTA, and I'm absolutely delighted to be here, because we'll be presenting a brand new event in the WTA calendar that will be launching in 2015:  The WTA Elite Trophy.
The dates of the tournament are the 2nd to the 8th of November, and will be taking place in very beautiful Zhuhai.  I am extremely delighted to welcome the people responsible for making this event a reality, the delegations from Zhuhai.
The event organizers, Huafa, and our long‑standing partners, APG.  Smiling Charles, welcome.
And Octagon and smiling Mickey, sitting side by side.  Welcome.
So with no further ado, I would just like to invite on stage the people who will be presenting to you.
If I could first invite Lydia Long, vice mayor of Zhuhai, responsible for sports, tourism, culture, education, public health, and international affairs.
I hope I haven't forgotten anything.
Next I would like to invite Stacey Allaster to join us, chairman, CEO, WTA.  (Applause).
And Peter Johnson, Zhuhai tournament director.
I now hand it over to Stacey Allaster to welcome the Zhuhai delegation to the WTA Finals in Singapore.
STACEY ALLASTER:  Xie xie, Heather, and ni hao to everyone.
As Heather indicated, we are very excited to welcome the newest WTA family member from Zhuhai, and it certainly is my great honor to welcome Vice Mayor Lydia Long.
Earlier this month we announced a brand new event concept, and as Heather has announced, a new name:  The WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai will debut in 2015.  It will be a fantastic event.  Singles, doubles, $2.15 million in prize money.
It's a winning formula for our fans.  Fantastic WTA stars.  You will see this amazing new custom‑built, state‑of‑the‑art stadium that they are building to showcase the WTA.
So Vice Mayor Long, on behalf of all the WTA players, I do welcome you to your new WTA family.  And xie xie for investing in women's tennis.
LYDIA LONG:  Thank you.
STACEY ALLASTER:  Adding the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai is another important milestone in the WTA's growth strategy for China.
As we now look to 2015, we will have 22 tournaments in Asia‑Pacific.  That 22 represents all of our events, our Premier tournaments, our internationals, and we have four WTA 125s.
Quite remarkably, in 2015 we will have 13 WTA events in Asia as part of our US Open swing.  Everyone always says after the US Open the tennis season over.  Let's all be very clear that we now have a bona fide Asian swing for our athletes post‑US Open:  Tokyo, Wuhan, Beijing, all lead to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals, and now adding Zhuhai to that exciting list.
So we're incredibly excited.  I can't wait for you all to see this very cool video.  I think it will clearly explain what Zhuhai is going to do for the WTA.
Xie xie.
      (Video shown.)
HEATHER BOWLER:  I would like to invite Lydia Long, the vice mayor, to present to you.
LYDIA LONG:  Distinguished guests, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  My colleagues and I ‑ here and there and here one of you ‑my colleagues and I are very happy to visit the beautiful light city, Singapore.
The exciting moments during the WTA Finals, it is our great honor to hold a news briefing on the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.  We highly appreciate the great support of WTA, and the kind assistance of APG.  A heartfelt thanks go to all the friends from a the media who are present today despite your tight schedule.
Situated at the Pearl River Delta, one of the most developed regions in China, Zhuhai neighbors Hong Kong by sea and Macao by land as presented to you by the video.
The HongKong‑Zhuhai‑Macao Bridge to be completed in the year 2016 ‑ in another two years that is ‑ we will make Zhuhai more accessible to the rest of the world.
This vibrant, beautiful, and romantic city is a true home from home.  It ranks the top list of the ex pat's most favorite Chinese city, and was given the UN Habitat Award for best practices in improving the living environment.
Among the 100‑odd islands, Hengqin connects Macao by the Lotus Bridge over the narrow water.
The Hengqin International Tennis Center Zhuhai, which is under construction, is on this scenic and promising island.
The WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, WTA's brand new tournament, will be held here for five consecutive years starting November 2nd to the 8th, 2015.
The venue's concept design is created by Populous, an Australian‑based company who is well‑known as one of the best sports architects in the world.  It will be built into a world class venue for tennis events.
Our center arena with 5,000 seats; one court with 1,500 seats, four courts with 250 seats, and 12 outdoor training hard courts will be available for WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
The renowned Huafa Group Company Limited is responsible for the development of the venue, and also the management of the event.  Tennis is an ideal sport for elegant Zhuhai.
In addition, the city's climate and environment is suitable for hosting sports events all the year‑round.  Romantic and beautiful Zhuhai is summed up in a Chinese idiom:  A perfect match made in heaven.
We are more than grateful to WTA for extending her warm arms to Zhuhai, making it a member of the world tennis family.
Thank you for opening a door for Zhuhai to engage in dialogs with other parts of the world through the international language of tennis.  We make solemn commitment that we will do our utmost to make the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai a satisfactory event for the players, the spectators, media, sponsors, and WTA, et cetera.
Of course, this won't be possible without the support of our dear friends present today and the members of the tennis family.  We are also committed to promoting tennis to a great extent in particular among teenagers and contribute to the future of tennis.
Again, I would like to thank you WTA headed by dear and beautiful Stacey for her‑‑ that's from the bottom of my heart ‑‑ for her trust and support and the concern of the friends present today.
On behalf of the mayor of Zhuhai, He Ningka, and its 1.5 million hospitable citizens, I would like to extend our sincere invitation to the best women players, the press, and friends from all over the world.  Beautiful and romantic Zhuhai awaits your visits.
Last but not least, I wish you good health and all the best.  I wish WTA a brilliant future.  I wish the WTA Finals in Singapore a great success.  Thank you.
HEATHER BOWLER:  Before we open the floor for questions, I would like invite Peter Johnston, tournament director, to say is a few words.
PETER JOHNSTON:  Thank you, Heather.  First of all, think full credit there to Vice Mayor Lydia on her speech.  Just a beautiful speech.  And not in her native language.
As you can see, this is going to be quite a fun event to be a part of.  Certainly when you look at the video and hear the words from Stacey and the vice mayor, there are so many positive attributes to this tournament.
The stadium is just going to be a state‑of‑the‑art facility.  I think the players are going to love it.  I think it's one that people will travel to from all around the world.
The city itself, the plans for the city, there is really so much to work with.  Of course then you get to the player field, which we're going to assemble such a great quality field with players all ranked in the top 20, round robin format, singles and doubles for over $2 million as Stacey said.
I think it's just going to capture a great feel.  The players will enjoy it, and think this is going to be one of the great destinations on the WTA calendar for many years to come.
Just like to add to what Stacey and the Vice Mayor Lydia had said.  We're looking forward it.  We're thank you so much, Zhuhai, Huafa, Octagon, APG, everyone who has had the vision to bring this tournament to the beautiful city of Zhuhai.  We're in for a great few years ahead.
Thank you very much.
HEATHER BOWLER:  We would like to open the floor to any questions in English first if we could, and then afterwards in Mandarin.

Q.  Question mostly for Stacey, I guess.  What made you guys decide to change the format from Sofia, which was more champion‑based, to this that is purely rankings‑based?
STACEY ALLASTER:  Well, I think, as you've seen from the video and from Vice Mayor Long's remarks, Zhuhai has big aspirations.
They really wanted to support and grow what was previously the Tournament of Champions.  $2.15 million as compared to Sofia next week, which is 750,000.  They wanted that next level of product to support their sport development plans.
They were quite visionary and brought us this concept together with Octagon and APG.  We're very excited that players sort of 9 through 20 where there is such a vast wealth of talent, that we now have the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai for these athletes.
HEATHER BOWLER:  I would like to ask Stacey a question myself.  How do you see the growth of women's tennis in China over the next five years?
STACEY ALLASTER:  In 2008 when we opened the office in Beijing, we had two events in China.  In 2012 we had two events in China.
To have ten events in 2014 and eleven in 2015, it really is quite remarkable.  I think as we've seen in other established markets for tennis, it has been the consistency of events, annual, on the calendar, which have provided the promotional foundation, not only for professional tennis, but also for inspiring youth to participate.
So I see now this journey that we have been on, we have such a solid foundation of events to then build the promotion for the sport and all of the marketing.  Ultimately, more fans and ultimately more kids playing the sport.
So I think we're well‑poised to really now take advantage of the infrastructure.  When you have those state‑of‑the‑art tennis facilities, it's just showcasing women's tennis at its finest.
So it really puts us at a whole new level of sport development in China.
HEATHER BOWLER:  Thank you very much, Stacey.  Any more questions?

Q.  Going off that question, Stacey, just thoughts about the impact of kind of the continued commitment to the Asian region now having obviously this tournament on the back of Singapore on the tournaments that are still back in Europe.  Some of the players that are ranked in that range are probably going to want to qualify and play Zhuhai, and are most likely going to be flying all the way back to Europe to play Linz, Luxembourg, Moscow.  Wanted to get your thoughts on that.  Is there even a thought to move those tournaments this way?
STACEY ALLASTER:  Well, I think we had a board meeting today, and we're looking at the 2016 calendar.  Obviously having the BNP Paribas WTA Finals for the first time in Singapore there is lots to be learned on player flow and what's going to work most importantly for our fans, sponsors.
It's very clear that U.S., Asia, Europe, Asia, it's not the most healthiest calendar for the athletes.  It's something that we're looking at.  Travel from North America to Europe and then have the consistency of coming into Asia.
That's going to be one of our goal.  Not easy, as you know, making change to the WTA calendar.  But that's sort of the long‑term vision.  We would like to be able to have that flow.

Q.  Just in terms of the actual mechanics of the tournament, based on the picture it's an indoor venue; is that correct?  And then from there, from the round robin, will it just be one match at a time or will you be utilizing the outside courts simultaneously?
PETER JOHNSTON:  Yes, the stadium court itself you would probably define it as an outdoor covered in terms that it's a total cover but with the air coming through.  That's the center court so obviously we are immune from any weather conditions affecting play.
With the format where you have 12 player rounds robin and the small doubles draw, you can actually play everything on the center court.  So there is no problems there.
Also, the outdoor facility, we want to really bring that whole venue side of it to life.  Lots of activities and things going on.
But the center court will be where all the play will be.

Q.  Peter, with the one wildcard, do you anticipate that being for local players for more or ranking‑based, or how...
PETER JOHNSTON:  I think so much of it depends‑‑ that's the beauty of the wildcard.  So much depends on probably how the year unfolds and plays out and who is doing what that appeals to all the stakeholders of the event.
Nice to have the one.  You know, I think closer to the time it'll be a little more obvious how we would use it.

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