Coming-up soon on August 17th, the Connecticut Open tennis tournament in New Haven, is the “calm before the storm” of the US Open. With a festival-like atmosphere, this easily accessible tournament is not just for tennis fans, but for anyone looking to cap off the summer with family and friends sharing fun, week-long activities only found here (CT Open ticket link).
We interviewed Tournament Director, Anne Worcester, to find out what goes on behind-the-scenes and what we can expect as fans…
Congratulations on an amazing lineup this year! Why do you think the world’s top players love coming to the Connecticut Open?
“Over the past 20 years we have had at least 4 of the top 10 players in the world compete here. Our cut-off this year is 35 so it is a very competitive environment which makes for great tennis and much fun to watch. This is a great way for players to tune-up for the US Open. It is the same climate, same surface, and as Monica Seles said when she played here, “Connecticut Open has that big stadium feel that prepares me for the US Open.” Simona said, “ I love playing here because of the big crowds and the same conditions as the US Open.” Petra Kvitova calls it the “calm before the storm of New York.”
The players also love our newly renovated Player Center, which feels like a top-notch medical spa with locker rooms that look like the Ritz Carlton. The players have to be ultra fit in preparation for the US Open, and our state-of-the-art amenities cater to their every need for optimal recovery and injury prevention. Along with the players, since the recent renovation, the elite WTA Sport Science & Medicine staff from all over the world have been vying to come play or work here at the CT Tennis Center.”
What is the number one request you get from the players that makes their stay here special?
“New Haven is a foodie destination with a large number of international, award-winning restaurants. The number one player request is “Are we getting the Mayor’s Passport to Downtown Dining again?” In 2000, the then-Mayor of New Haven asked me “What can we do to get the players to go out in downtown?” I said, “Feed them for free!” That is how the Passport Program was started and it has become very popular for both players and our restaurant owners, because although the players receive complimentary meals, their entourage pays. It’s a win-win.”
Sounds like the players at the Connecticut Open really get the royal treatment. Take us behind the scenes… what can a player expect when she arrives?
“The players are transported from their downtown New Haven hotel in Official Porsche vehicles and, upon entering the newly renovated Player Center at the CT Tennis Center, our expert Player Services team greets them and is ready to take care of their every need. Players pick up credentials for themselves and their entourage, Wilson balls for practice, lunch tickets, sign up for practice courts, drop off their laundry, and anything else they need. Then we let them know about all the special perks and amenities to make them feel welcome in New Haven in addition to the coveted Mayor’s Passport to Downtown…free golf at Yale (one of the top college courses in the USA), daily player gifts from our sponsors (Arden Rose jewelry, Neely & Chloe accessories, Perricone Skin Care, LOLO bags, and a shopping experience by PORSCHE), Forks & Fingers catered player café …and more. Of course they take advantage of the luxurious Player Center and especially the private workout area where they can warm up and cool down before and after matches. We try to anticipate their every need to make them feel welcome and comfortable while they are in New Haven.”
How do the fans feel about the Connecticut Open?
“We have very loyal fans who draw from as far as Boston, New Jersey, New York and of course Fairfield County, New Haven County, Hartford County and greater Connecticut. Many have been coming for years making the Connecticut Open the 4th best-attended women’s only WTA tournament in the world. While the US Open is an unparalleled larger-than-life experience, at the CT Open fans get the chance to see top players and rising stars in an up-close and personal atmosphere. There’s not a bad seat in the house. The new and sleek Avangrid Power Zone, where the players will make appearances daily, is an opportunity for fans to recharge and to rub shoulders with world-class stars. Players are very relaxed here and feel comfortable walking around interacting with fans who show them respect and give them space. And, the fans love getting to know the players.”
How are the stars accessible to the fans at the tournament? What kinds of interactions do you have planned?
“Fans can interact with players at the Avangrid Power Zone, the Aetna FitZone, the Porsche car displays…and more. On Sunday August 19, the top four seeds will be at the WTA All Access Hour—for media interviews, fan interactions and the Meet the Boxholder Party in the Plaza.”
How would you describe the food & beverage at the Connecticut Open?
“We have some of the best food trucks in the area as well as fine dining throughout the tournament. From family friendly favorites like grilled cheese, crepes and Ben & Jerry’s to Champions Grill Bar & Restaurant—which opened to the public first time this year serving gourmet meals and appetizers such as Poke. Ketel One Botanical Garden will be a fantastic attraction and Goose Island tavern is a returning favorite. Eat drink and be merry is the overall theme of Connecticut Open!
We encourage tennis fans and non-fans alike to come for the food, family fun and entertainment all week-long in our festival-like atmosphere around the grounds including live music nightly.”
Here are some of the featured food trucks:
• The Stand
• CraftBird & Co.
• Caseus Cheese Truck
• Crepe Choupette
• Lenny & Joe’s
• Spuds Your Way
• Maui WowiQ.
The tournament is sponsored by PORSCHE. What can we expect to see?
“For Porsche fans and car aficionados, the Connecticut Open becomes a mini car show with the latest Porsche models on display throughout the tournament grounds.
New models on site this year include:
• 911 Targa 4 GTS
• Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
• 718 Boxster
• 718 Cayman S
• Cayenne E3
Fans who arrive in a Porsche can drive right up to the GOLD lot and get free parking.”
Who else is coming and what are some off-court events we can expect?
Here’s a calendar of our planned week-long events:
SHOPRITE KIDS DAY POWERED BY NET GENERATION
Sunday, August 19 – ALL DAY
** First 1,000 kids receive gift bags
** Festival atmosphere with magicians, face painting, jugglers, etc.
KIDS DAY TENNIS CLINICS
** Kids tennis clinic from 10 a.m. to 12 noon for all ages and abilities at the indoor courts
** High Performance clinic with Hall of Fame coach Nick Bollettieri from 2-4 p.m. at the IMG Academy Court
OPENING NIGHT PRESENTED BY YALE, featuring Lindsay Davenport in a mixed doubles exhibition
Monday, August 20 Evening Session
** Gates open at 5 p.m.; Ceremony at 6:30 p.m.; Singles match at 7 p.m. followed by mixed doubles exhibition featuring Lindsay Davenport
** Kicks off the first evening session of the tournament
** A celebration of all that Yale brings to New Haven and the community around the grounds
WOMEN’S DAY FEATURING COURTGIRL & COCKTAIL
Tuesday, August 21 Day Session
** Fabulous Trunk Show in our Courtside Club open to all ticket holders featuring tennis and lifestyle brands including ELEVEN by Venus Williams, COHO USA, Vieux Jeu, Armani Beauty, Love by Hazel, REMEDY BodyWorks, and photo ops with WTA players
** COURTGIRL LIEFSTYLE VIP Ticket includes lunch, cocktails, VIP gift bag, platinum seating and gold parking
AUTISM AWARENESS DAY presented by ASD Fitness Center and Chapel Haven
Wednesday, August 22
** A fun-filled day featuring adaptive tennis and fitness clinics.
** Sensory friendly area in the Sponsor Club overlooking stadium court offering complimentary food, drink and arts and crafts.
INVESCO SERIES QQQ MEN’S LEGENDS
Thursday, August 23 James Blake vs. Tommy Haas
Friday, August 24 John McEnroe vs. Todd Martin followed by men’s legends final
Friday, August 24 Day Session
** Superhero and Princess Day – Kids dressed as their favorite characters get in free with a paid adult
** High School Clinic – free tennis clinic and lunch for teenagers
** Be on TV – Session features a 3 p.m. singles semifinal that airs on ESPN2
MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY
Saturday, August 25
** Active military and vets receive a complimentary pair of tickets to the singles and doubles finals
** TBD: Military Outpost on site
BEER FEST AT THE CONNECTICUT OPEN
Saturday, August 25 – 12 noon to 4 p.m.
** New for 2018!
** Craft beer festival featuring 30 Connecticut breweries
** $40 ticket to Beer Fest includes general admission, middle tier seat for the singles and doubles finals
Thanks, Anne! We are excited and grateful to be at the Connecticut Open for the fourth year, curating the COURTGIRL & COCKTAIL event and look forward to enjoying all that the tournament has to offer. See you in a few weeks!