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August 28, 2004

Mike Davies

Anne Worcester


ANNE WORCESTER: I know you have a lot of questions, but just to sort of share our thoughts on the tournament, a week ago we did an interview with Dave Solomon. As so many of the interviews these past two weeks, the interview started out with the comparison to the Buick, how do you feel about being up against the Buick. Dave was trying to get us to focus on the future of the tournament. He was making the fair point that the Buick Championships with its very rich tradition, longevity, is already a permanent fixture in the minds of the Connecticut public, and when did we think we would get there, and by what criteria would we base it on. I know I was quoted as saying, you know, really becoming a permanent fixture in the public's mindset or becoming a true happening is a privilege, and a lot of it has to do with time. We're very proud of how far we've come in seven years, and we'll continue to build this event. One of the main reasons we have so much off-court entertainment is because we want it to be more than just a tennis tournament. But when he pushed me a little bit and said, "How do you know?" I said, "It's not just attendance, it's not just TV ratings, it's something more intangible than that. It's when you lose your top seed and it's not the end of the world. It's when your top seeds don't go through, get through to the later rounds." So he wrote that last Sunday. I just reread the article today. I guess little did I know that a day later we would lose our top seed to a very difficult withdrawal, the Lindsay Davenport withdrawal, and that a day later we'd lose Maria Sharapova in her first-round singles match after having promoted her so heavily, and two days later we'd lose Jennifer Capriati, then Elena Dementieva the next day. I guess what really makes me so proud is that it wasn't the end of the world. So while I don't think we're going to sit here and say we've arrived, we're a permanent fixture in the mindset of the Connecticut public, in seven short years we've accomplished all of our goals. But I do think this week was a testimony to the fact that the Pilot Pen is here to stay. It's interesting to hear Martina's comments, that the Pilot Pen is here to stay, and it is something that is appearing on more and more annual calendars and not just tennis fans but casual fans as well. Mother Nature was definitely our top seed this week, and she did get through to the final. We could not have been luckier with the final. We couldn't have been luckier with Martina entering at the last minute and then getting through to the final. Two Ms, Mother Nature and Martina Navratilova, help us out a lot. When 7500 people show up for a Raymond-Dechy match, most of those people probably never heard of Raymond or Dechy. But they showed up for the experience, they showed up for the live music, because it was a beautiful summer evening, and the Pilot Pen is quickly becoming the place to be. 7,000 people showing up in the heat of today. I think my take away from this week is we have arrived, we're here to stay and we'll keep growing this event. We're nowhere near becoming complacent. When I walked to the upper site last night and saw thousands of people streaming in for the players ranked 29 and 40 in the world, I just could not believe my eyes. I just felt so proud of what we've built here. For me it was a real milestone, last night was a real milestone.

MIKE DAVIES: I think you've forgotten to tell them that the problem we had Washington Sharapova and Capriati was Ron's racquet. If we hadn't have gone through that...

ANNE WORCESTER: Ron Shaw told us he needed a few racquet a couple weeks ago. He asked Mike, the tennis expert, for advice. Mike researched it. Knowing that Sharapova plays with a Prince, we went out and got a Prince. We thought it would be fun to have Sharapova sign it and present it to him, surprise him during one of our on-court ceremonies. We were all ready to do it Tuesday night. When Sharapova lost, I wasn't going to ask her to present a racquet on court. So we had Mashona Washington help us with that presentation at the last minute. Then we thought, Capriati is a Prince player. Thursday night there was this on-court presentation for the Family Classic. Ron doesn't really like to do presentations. He didn't want to do that one. He'd rather sit in his box, entertain his guests, show up on Saturday for the ceremony. I had to tell him I was sick and I really needed him to help me out with the presentation, plead with him. I prepped Jennifer. I said, If you win the match, you're going to give Mr. Shaw this racquet. Of course, she doesn't win.

MIKE DAVIES: We pull the racquet back to the office.

ANNE WORCESTER: Anyway, no more Prince racquets.

MIKE DAVIES: What Anne was saying as far as the event is concerned, it's very much I think on our mind when we first started this tournament, we felt that we've really got to create something here and it's got to be bigger than just a tennis tournament, have an ambiance out there, have people that want to come out for a day or an evening, et cetera. I've been to a lot of tennis tournaments, been involved with a lot of tournaments throughout the world. It's an interesting thing. There's no such thing as instantaneous tradition. Wimbledon's been around for 120 years. The interesting thing was the year in 1972 when all of the ATP players boycotted the tournament, they had their biggest attendance ever at Wimbledon. It's like the people are going to an event, not, "Those players are playing, I'm not going to Wimbledon." They all showed up. That's our sort of goal, is to go to an event. That's what we're going to keep on striving to do. In the sports world that we're at, injuries and things like that, upsets. As far as the upsets we've had this week, I go back to I remember when Bing Crosby was asked about Frank Sinatra. Bing Crosby said, "There's only once in a lifetime that a voice like that comes along, and I wish to hell it wasn't in my lifetime." When we get the upsets here at this tournament, I love the upsets because it brings new player. I just wish it was some other tournament that they had the upsets in. But there you are. That's sport, that's the business we're involved in.

ANNE WORCESTER: I guess we really didn't expect that in year seven the Pilot Pen would become bigger than the players playing on the court and that the event became more important than who was playing. People came out to see whoever was playing. There's no doubt that our walk-up would have been greater had Sharapova gotten through and Capriati gotten through, no doubt. But the fact that everybody bought tickets in advance came out, and some even bought them at the last minute, says that they came for the event, no for the players. I'm pretty proud of that in seven short years.

MIKE DAVIES: Did you get the attendance figures?

Q. Yes. Do you know about what the walk-up was last night and today, just approximately?

MIKE DAVIES: I think it was -- I think I heard Brad say there were approximately 300, 400 walk-up. But we presold so many, especially for Friday night. Friday night is the biggest night that we have. Who knows if we had another 500 if there was Capriati in the semifinal? Don't know. Don't know.

ANNE WORCESTER: When I take off my Pilot Pen hat and I put on my women's tennis hat, this week did show that there's a lot of depth in women's tennis. I mean, you don't see very often that the player ranked 81 in the world upsets the player ranked 7 in the world. I mean, I don't think anybody thought Mashona Washington had a chance. For her to go out and play with such heart on Tuesday night, she deserved to win that match. Nobody could take that away from her. Nathalie Dechy, she deserved to beat Capriati on Thursday night. It's been a long time since I've seen this number of upsets in any one week. Nathalie Dechy is 29 in the world. She upset Capriati, 8 in the world. Elena Bovina 25 in the world, upsetting Elena Dementieva, 6 in the world. It was the week of the unpredictable.

MIKE DAVIES: It also shows that women's tennis is getting more depth. I personally thought this was going to happen -- I know it's going to happen. The timing on it just depends. The men have always had more depth for the last 20 years, more depth in the fields. I've always said that the women are going to catch up, they're going to have more depth. It's happening. It's starting to happen. It doesn't happen overnight, but it will happen. There will be 20 players out there that on any given day will knock off a top seed, 1, 2, 3 players in the world. At the moment we just saw two of them out there. It was great to see.

ANNE WORCESTER: Having two unseeded players going to the final, you can only hope that it's great tennis. We were very lucky that it was such an entertaining, close match today, both the singles and the doubles. The people that paid $25 or $30 for a ticket today got five hours of entertainment. That's a pretty good value for your money.

MIKE DAVIES: I was really impressed with the doubles out there tonight. I've been around this game a long time, played a lot of doubles. I'll tell you what, those girls played as good a doubles match as I've ever seen. They were exceptional, absolutely exceptional. It was tremendous tennis.

ANNE WORCESTER: Last night, there was some special buzz, energy and electricity in this Connecticut Tennis Center at night that doesn't exist during the day. Seeing that doubles last night, Martina playing out of her mind, some of the returns and some of the gets, one after another, one more incredible than the other, standing ovations during a doubles match, I've never seen that before. Having Martina here was definitely very special. Today was arguably the largest crowd for any doubles match on the tour. Having Martina get to the finals was magical.

Q. How big a lift do you think she gave to the tournament, having her here?

ANNE WORCESTER: Huge. Well, it's interesting that you were asking her about that. I saw her in the locker room. I said, "Martina, you were so important to this tournament. Imagine if I had your entry two weeks in advance." She entered literally that Saturday morning. Lisa called me at 7:30 or 8 a.m. to say, "Yeah, we're signing in." We would have launched a Martina mania campaign. Actually, we could have added some letters and changed all those tattoos and megaphones.

MIKE DAVIES: Saved money.

ANNE WORCESTER: I think she was a huge lift. I'm so grateful that she entered. I'm grateful that Lisa decided to play singles here. I'm grateful they lost early at the Olympics and needed more matches. I'm grateful they played so well here.

Q. With Bovina being your defending champ, are you pulling for her every match to be 8 or 9 in the world for next year?


ANNE WORCESTER: Absolutely. I've never had such an easy recruiting of our defending champion before.

MIKE DAVIES: We obviously love to see the girls that do well here get in the final and win at the US Open. We get complacent a little bit in terms of thinking that they'd automatically do well. Venus played here twice, won is twice, won the US Open twice. She won the third time, she lost to her sister in the final. They were doing -- playing here and winning was great going into the US Open. As far as I'm concerned, I'd like Bovina to win the tournament now. It's good for Pilot Pen, good for New Haven, good for our tournament.

Q. Each of you usually focus on something in the off-season that doesn't have to do with tennis. Any buzz this week that you'll say and look in the off-season, with the food court and everything else, outside?

MIKE DAVIES: We do surveys with the people, so we get a lot of those questions answered, then we can zero in on the situation on the food courts, whether the lines were waiting too long, various questions that go out that we get back. We take a look at those and see what we can fix or what we need to improve to move on.

Q. Do you have numbers on the box seat renewals?

MIKE DAVIES: I can't believe this, but I had one guy walk into -- he came up to the box office just now and said, "I want to renew my box." He pulled out $2,000 in cash and gave it in hundred dollar bills.

Q. Wasn't a sportswriter.

MIKE DAVIES: Wasn't a sportswriter.

ANNE WORCESTER: We did raise $858 from the tips at the media happy hour. Thank you very much. Week-long box seats is the backbone of our budget. It's a really important part of what we sell all year long. So this year we tried a new perk that if you're a week-long box holder, you get to come to a player box-holder reception. It was on Monday night, sponsor promenade. We had something like 500 RSVPs. We brought in almost all of the seeds at that given moment, including Capriati who of course got the biggest buzz. We walked the players through. Everybody got autographs, photos, gets to shake hands. The box holders got to meet Elena Bovina, Nathalie Dechy. On Monday that might not have been important to them, but now it certainly is. Hopefully that will help our renewals.

Q. Anne, do you head to the US Open next, remind players about their experience, perhaps talk to people who didn't come like Venus? "Hi, remember me?"

ANNE WORCESTER: I have to go Monday night. Our meetings start Tuesday morning the 8 a.m. I start first with tournament meetings. We have worldwide tournament meetings, then we have tournament council, leadership council that I sit on. That's Tuesday and Wednesday. We'll be tackling things like withdrawal penalties, stronger carrot, stronger sticks, players playing down to tier three tournaments. The 2005 calendar is still an open issue. There's still open issues on the 2005 calendar. Some major rules issues. We have a real heavy agenda for Tuesday and Wednesday. But I'll head out Wednesday afternoon to The Open. Our meetings are in New York City. I'll head out Wednesday afternoon and start talking to players. I have a lot of Dooney and Burke bags to deliver. That's a real good way to initiate a meeting.

Q. They all talked about the gifts they received. What are some of those gifts?

ANNE WORCESTER: It's so funny. Maria Sharapova, when she arrived early on Thursday, the first thing they said to me is, "Do I have to wait till Sunday for my goody bag?" I said, "Yes, but you can have your dining passport early." We sign on sponsors that we know will be attractive gifts for players. In some cases we just trade product for sponsorship benefit. Things that are very popular, leather line called Dooney and Burke, all kinds of handbags, wristlets, luggage. Everybody in the main draw gets a gift in player services, but all eight of the top seeds get to go up in the Dooney and Burke booth and pick whatever they want. Jennifer Capriati will go there three times. Venus Williams three times. A sponsor that might give us 7 to 10 thousand dollars worth of product, we do it for the fans, it's impromptu signing sessions. Same with Lux, Bond and Green, which is a jeweler. They give is jewelry for the players. We pick it. We don't rely on the sponsor. We select it. I pride myself on my fashion sense, so far so good. Players seem to like what we've chosen. The other day Capriati couldn't decide. She was at the Lux, Bond and Green booth for 20, 30 minutes. She couldn't decide. The whole crowd is waiting for her to sign autographs. She's trying on this necklace. This little voice pops up. Jennifer, that looks nice on you. She spins around to this little sweet boy, What's your name? He said, Woody. Where are you from? He said Massachusetts. How long did it take you to get here today? He said two hours. For the rest of the try-ons, she would turn around and say, "Woody, where are you? What do you think?" The crowd gets to see a side of these players that you don't see in this press conference, that fans don't see on the court. I really think that's what sets women's tennis apart from other sports. Tatiana Golovin is making crepes for the public in the crepes booth. Elena Dementieva is doing Q&A with the girl scouts, Mashona Washington and Daniela Hantuchova spending time with the kids on Kids Day.

MIKE DAVIES: Stubbs and Blake.

ANNE WORCESTER: Wimbledon Champions pouring beer for the media at the Michelob happy hour. The players love that gift giving. Martina went up there, all the seeds went up. Martina and Lisa Raymond were invited up as well. The fans get the biggest kick out of it. It's really a fan-friendly thing for us. But the players love it. The talk on the town is that the Pilot Pen gives good gifts.

Q. Is that typical or have you taken it to a new extreme?

ANNE WORCESTER: They get there goody bags when they arrive and then they get a daily gift. They're 16, 17 years old. Think about your own kids, how much do they love gifts? Doesn't matter what it is. One day we had Brooks Bros. Everybody got this cool Brooks Bros shirt, practical for travel. One day was Lux, Bond and Green. Great necklaces that were stone necklaces. One day was Dooney and Burke day. One day we gave them tournament T-shirts. They come rushing up to the desk, "What's the gift today?" They could afford lots of those. It's somebody else doing the selecting. It's just part of the fun.

MIKE DAVIES: With this week here, our sort of credo here is that we've got to try and make this tournament as much a fun week and a good week to play tennis with the best conditions as we can. We got to go out of our way to do that so the players in the locker room say, "Hey, New Haven is great. I don't have to go and do boring cocktail parties with the president of X company and sit around there for an hour and listen to these old fogeys talk, all that. I get gifts. I get practice courts. I'm playing on the same conditions. Everybody treats you so well. Then I get in the car and drive to New York rather than getting on an airplane." We've got to keep that thing going because that's our best shot. The week before the US Open, we're not going to get to change the date on this even if we wanted to, I'm not sure we would. Depends on what we were offered. But this week before the US Open is all -- you can't pay these people. First of all, it's against the rules, but you can't pay them this kind of money. There's no way. So you do the little things. Doesn't matter what you are. Just like some of our investors. We got some of our investor that invest in the tournament. You know what, they got some bucks behind them. The first thing they do when they get here is they ask you, "Got a T-shirt, a hat?" They like to have those things.

Q. You didn't get Bovina to drink a beer on court.

MIKE DAVIES: No, we didn't. Is she too young?

Q. No, she's 21.

ANNE WORCESTER: But the players just came to say thank you and good-bye, which is so polite. The things that they said about the tournament -- I guess I just can't get used to hearing all the compliments. They think our staff is among the best in the world. The professional environment, the court surface, the locker room, the treatment room, the food that we provide, which for them is gasoline for their engines. Even before you get to gifts and manicures and pedicures, it's the professional tournament environment they really appreciate. That's why they come here. Nadia Petrova was just saying to me, it's so relaxing and so fun to come here, yet I feel like I'm going to The Open with really great preparation. Lindsay Davenport always called it the calm before the storm. She doesn't know how stormy it was here on Monday.

Q. Lindsay withdrawal Monday, you lose Maria Tuesday. Are you thinking in your office, "There's no way we can beat our attendance figure from last year"? Ron after the doubles said this was the biggest doubles crowd ever. Where does he get that figure from? Unless it's a separate admission, how would you know?

ANNE WORCESTER: What we told him is that it's arguably one of the biggest crowds. He made it a little more definitive. He may have misheard or whatever. That's what we told him. The people in our business, the WTA, those of us on the staff who have been to many, many tournaments, people just don't stick around for doubles these days, they really don't. I mean, we've always done this press conference during the doubles. What does that say about our collective respect for doubles? But today there was no way I was doing it during Martina/Raymond. There's no way you guys were going to do it and miss that match. I think having Martina was really, really big and a really big lift for the tournament. I think Martina here playing well was critical. Some of those points last night.

Q. Tuesday night, did you honestly think after that that you could have a couple thousand more people than you ended up getting last year?

ANNE WORCESTER: We were really worried about finding matches for TV. We were worried finding strong evening matches. When you come here in the day, three or four or five matches to choose from, different courts, your ticket is for seven hours. It can be like a five-hour ticket. So the night when there's just matches on stadium, you really have to schedule well to be fair to those ticket purchasers. We were going to play Lindsay Wednesday night. She left a hole. Martina not wanting to start till Wednesday night was a positive for us. I had to go back to Capriati and say, "I told you you'd have to play one night. Now I need you to play two nights." She was great. She agreed. Then we were planning to play Capriati Friday night if she got through. All of a sudden she didn't get through. We had a Dechy/Raymond semifinal Friday night live on ESPN, not even ESPN-2. We were expecting upwards of 7,000 people. I just think it's really critical, a real testimonial to the event that the Pilot Pen has become that 7500 people showed up last night.

Q. Did you ever talk to Lindsay?

ANNE WORCESTER: No. Didn't hear from her, and didn't call her.

MIKE DAVIES: We've been a little busy.

ANNE WORCESTER: I'm sure I'll see her at The Open. She actually was embroiled in another situation right after this because she was seated behind Serena. The USTA elected to deviate from the official rankings for the seedings at The Open, so she was bumped from 4 to 5, which means she's not protected. The WTA has -- Serena is seeded co-No. 2 because of injury, she has a special ranking for a certain number of tournaments, so if the players 1 and 2 in the world are present, then Serena is seeded No. 3. That bumped Lindsay from 4 to 5. Lindsay was very, very upset about that. The USTA doesn't have to adopt -- the USTA, just like Wimbledon, has the right to deviate from the rankings for their seedings. They have the right to adopt a special seeding from a WTA or not. So they did adopt this Serena special seedings. I'm sure it didn't make Lindsay very happy. If you look at the draw, I believe that Lindsay and Venus could meet in this quarterfinal, and the winner of that match goes on to meet Myskina. If you're CBS and you're Americans who want to see Americans, you're the USTA selling tickets, it's the worst possible draw after having made those seeding decisions. I think she was a little busy with that this week.

Q. Did you get any feedback from ESPN as far as how the ratings went?

MIKE DAVIES: Don't have anything right now.

ANNE WORCESTER: I do know that CBS stayed with the match today, not just for the entire two-hour time slot, they stayed an extra 30 minutes. They covered the full length of the match, which cut into the golf. For CBS to do that for the players ranked 25 and 29 in the world really says something for the depth of women's tennis.

MIKE DAVIES: Very competitive great match.

ANNE WORCESTER: The fans today got their monies' worth. Thanks for a good week. We couldn't do this without you.

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