Episode#:35 Bobby Schindler and Shaun J Boyce

In this episode, we talk to Peter Lebdevs who is the Tournament Director of the APT 250 Atlanta Open Professional Men’s Tennis Tournament held at Atlantic Station July 22 – July 30, 2023. Peter has been involved in this event since its inception and has taken over the Tournament Director spot this year, vacated by Eddie Gonzalez. We talk about Christopher Eubanks, Taylor Fritz, Francis Tiafoe, Gail Monfils, as well as the fact that this event has the best parking of any ATP or WTA event in the world.

https://www.atlantaopentennis.com/en/tournament/faqs

Shaun Boyce USPTA: [email protected]

https://tennisforchildren.com/ 🎾

Bobby Schindler USPTA: [email protected]

https://windermerecommunity.net/ 🎾

Geovanna Boyce: [email protected]

https://regeovinate.com/ πŸ’ͺπŸΌπŸ‹οΈ

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Transcript
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(upbeat music)

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Welcome to the Atlanta Tennis Podcast.

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Every episode is titled, "It Starts With Tennis"

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and goes from there.

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We talk with coaches, club managers,

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industry business professionals, technology experts,

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and anyone else we find interesting.

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We wanna have a conversation as long as it starts with tennis.

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(upbeat music)

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- Hey, hey, this is Shaun with the Atlanta Tennis Podcast,

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powered by GoTennis!

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Check out our calendar of Metro Atlanta Tennis events

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at LetsGoTennis.com,

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where you can also find deals on equipment, apparel,

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and members get 10% off our shop.

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So get yourself an Atlanta Tennis Monsters shirt.

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I've got mine and I wear it all the time.

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In this episode, we talk to Peter Lebedevs,

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who is the tournament director at the ATP250 Atlanta Tennis Open.

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The event runs from July 22nd to July 30th,

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including top American Taylor Fritz,

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French Showman Gail Monfils,

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and recent Atlanta-born Wimbledon success story,

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Christopher Eubanks.

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Have a listen and let us know what you think.

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- First of all, we appreciate you taking time,

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but know you're busy.

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It is the week before the event.

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The ATP250 Atlanta Open, all that.

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You are the tournament director.

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You've been there for years,

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but this is your first year as the man, right?

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- Yeah, look Eddie

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And I started this thing together in 2014,

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and we've been friends many years,

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and when he left, I stepped up into his role.

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I am currently the tournament director

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of our company's other 250 event

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that we run in Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Open.

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So comfortable in this role,

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just a new role for me here in Atlanta,

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but look, the people are so good here in Atlanta,

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and I know so many of them that it's been a great transition,

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and everybody's been excited about the change,

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and looking forward to working with us.

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I was about to say, well,

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but they've been working great, so we're excited.

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- I like it.

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I know Bobby's got all kinds of questions,

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especially including the Dallas event,

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so I'm gonna hand you over to him, Bobby,

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what you got for Peter?

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- Well, Peter, great segue, and as Sean said,

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thank you so much for joining us.

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So we concentrate or try to focus more on Atlanta.

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So the first curiosity would be always,

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you've been in Long Island, you've been in Dallas,

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you're in Atlanta.

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What are the differences?

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What makes Atlanta unique that you have

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or challenge as opposed to the other cities?

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- Oh, look, every place you go is different.

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I mean, the other two events you mentioned are indoors.

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So as soon as you start talking indoors,

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you're talking about a very different,

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you know, animal with snow and ice and things like that.

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And then here in Atlanta, we got 120 degrees

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and funnish hours every afternoon.

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So they're very different in terms of that,

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but look, the Atlanta crowd is fantastic.

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They know the doubles, they love the doubles down here.

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So, you know, they're each different

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and an Atlantic station is an amazing venue

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that we're able to play out of.

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You know, the players are able to say the hotel,

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walk to the site, walk to all of their things.

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So we had some really, what I'll call unique things

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here for the players, but they really love.

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So, you know, the difference between Dallas and here,

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one big difference is there is zero parking in Dallas.

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We're on the SMU campus and there is none,

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but here in Atlanta, Atlantic Station,

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we have 7,500 covered spots that cost $15 a day to park.

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You can't beat that parking anywhere in the country.

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So, you know, the biggest differences,

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I think, are hot and cold and parking probably

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between all of them.

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- And Peter, I know you're not aware of this

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or forgive you this time, but we're not allowed

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to say SMU on the podcast because I went to TCU.

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- Oh, okay, on Friday, so you came Nori Boy, yeah.

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That's all right.

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So, by the way, who did came Nori Loaster, Walden?

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- Oh, I don't even know.

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I know it's said--

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- Yeah, you're coming to Atlanta, huh?

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- Yeah, yeah, you see you guys.

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So, we got to bring up the TCU connection

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that Chris Ubank speak, Cam Nori,

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and in a great match, that was his first seeded player

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that he beat me and he's run this.

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- Oh, yeah.

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- Exactly.

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There's always that little TCU losing connection

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to somebody in the Atlanta open.

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- Just kidding.

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- Just kidding.

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- I thought you were talking about Georgian General.

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I know, it's been a great year,

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but it's been a bad year.

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What can you do?

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- That's right.

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- That's right.

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- So, one of the other questions I was gonna ask,

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but I think it's been answered for me

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'cause I just opened up your latest email blast

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with Chris as obviously the highlight,

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has his success at Wimbleton been a feast for you guys?

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- Look at starting to, as I told,

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we had our 300 volunteers come and do their orientation

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on Saturday, and as I explained to them,

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Chris was not in the original main draw field

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because when that came out, he was 77 in the world.

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Now, the way the entry details work and this sort of stuff,

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Chris was always gonna get in

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because he was the next guy in the draw.

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I can go into all the raw details,

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but too much to worry about,

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but knowing that he's gonna get in.

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But then after that field is announced,

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everybody was kinda like,

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"Oh, you know, Chris, you're back here, he'll get in."

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No big deal.

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Well, then Chris that week goes and wins my yorka.

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So all of a sudden, now a little bit of a,

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bubbles start sending,

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"Oh, Chris, you back, Chris can play the Atlanta open."

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So questions get asked,

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and then it's, Chris has his two weeks of Wimbledon

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all of a sudden, "Oh, Chris, you back, Peter, why is he not in the event?"

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Blah, blah.

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And so Chris grew right after we announced the field,

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but now that he's in, look, it's fantastic for us.

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We're excited to have him.

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He's gonna be a part of our court-cristing

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that we're doing on Friday,

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him and Kyle Corb,

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along with Ethan Quinn and Trent Brighter,

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he's gonna be the first people to play on our stadium court

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this year with the name Atlanta.

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That's getting across the court.

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So look, Chris is a bonus.

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And Chris is a tremendous young man.

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I've known him for many years,

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and I told the story to our volunteers the other day.

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I was at Wimbledon last year with a player

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and couldn't get a ride to the main site.

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And I saw Chris down in the restaurant the night before,

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and I said, "Hey, Chris, can I, you know,

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snag along a ride with you in the morning to the site?"

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And Chris said, "Ah, no problem, Peter, you know,

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he's just a great guy for us in Atlanta.

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We're lucky to have him."

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But he's also great for tennis, breath of fresh air.

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There's not a camera that doesn't love Chris,

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and there's not a person that doesn't love Chris.

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So, you know, batting a thousand.

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- Well, that's good.

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We're certainly excited about the opportunity.

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Also, helps we have a lot of homegrown talent.

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It's good to have a little American resurgence,

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which is certainly gonna help move the event.

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- Yeah, looking really is.

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Fritzy is, Taylor's come a long way in the last few years

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and I talked to his agent constantly about how much he's grown

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both as a player and he just loves to play.

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So, we've got him coming along and, you know,

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excited for him to play some great tennis.

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You know, and then you add in Chris,

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Chris is going from not being in the drawtor.

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He's gonna be probably, if all things hold up right now,

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he'll be our number six seed in the event,

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which is amazing for not being into suddenly number six.

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And then you've got, you know,

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some of the other Americans, Marcus Yaron and Brandon Nakashima

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who, you know, has done very, very well here before.

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So, we have a tremendous group of American players

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that are gonna be playing here.

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And just US tennis is in good shape,

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both on the men's and women's.

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So, we're excited to see that just from, you know,

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our love of tennis as a company, you know,

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we're really committed to growth of tennis.

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So, we're excited to see that for tennis in the US.

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- Obviously, as we talked about Atlanta,

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being a little different

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and you've smoked on the heat.

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And we do see that they're advertising for shaded courts.

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What are the differences are gonna be

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for the facility that gets you some shade this year?

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- Yeah, well, shaded seats, not a shaded court,

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the court is still gonna be 120, no, shaded seats.

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Well, what we've done is, you know,

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we like every sporting event.

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There are suites that are used for corporate hospitality

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and things like that.

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So, what we've done is instead of, you know,

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if we have a suite available, if we have some seats

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that are covered, we're letting the public buy those,

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obviously, a discounted rate and be able to sit in the shade.

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So, you know, for one of the first times ever,

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some of the south suites down that end,

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you can be able to sit up there in our shaded boxes

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under there and so you're gonna be sitting underneath the awning

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and you're not gonna have the sun beating down on you.

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Now, we'll tell you that one or two of them

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does get some some, some part of the day, but not much.

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So, that's the idea behind that.

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And our north suites where people can buy seats

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out of that for individual sessions as well

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on the ones that aren't used for our corporate hospitality,

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that actually has an air condition space

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along with the seats outside.

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Those seats are outside in the sun,

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but you have an indoor space to hang out in

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and can watch some tennis.

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And the south suites, you sit in the shade the entire time,

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but you're in the open air.

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So, the idea is to provide options for the fans

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and look, we already sold quite a few of those seats

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when you first announce them the other day.

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So, we're excited to give the fans that experience

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of being able to sit in the shade in Atlanta.

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That's the goal.

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- And obviously, like you said,

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nobody else has to deal with 120 degrees on the court

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like Atlanta does.

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So, it's certainly welcome.

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We might even try to see if there's a couple of players

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try to sneak into the area.

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- Oh, the coach is always there.

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The coach is always there with the guys.

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He can't sit here, somebody's bought the seat

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or something, he's on the mat, but you know,

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the coach is early on always trying to sneak in that area.

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- Peter, how do you handle that?

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So, when I would go to an event as a kid,

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there was a time where you realized, okay,

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the expensive seat down there, nobody's coming today.

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Can you just kind of let me down in there?

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Are they in the baseball games?

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They let everybody come down after some inning

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or whatever it is.

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Is there an ability that we have that, okay,

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I bought a seat in road 97,

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but there's really not a lot of people here right now.

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It's either the end of the day or it's crazy hot

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and I'm the only one going to sit in that seat.

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Is there, do you have people just keeping saying,

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sorry, you didn't pay the seat, you can't come down here?

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- Look, it sounds kind of crazy during the day session

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because we don't know who's going to be there.

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We do have to hold that.

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- Keep breathing.

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- Yeah, because look at devalues,

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those people that have paid for a face show up,

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there's nothing worse when they show up.

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At the end of the day, the end of the night,

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like when we've had some rain and things like that

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and somebody was sitting in that front row

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and the person sitting there, the ocean knows,

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they're not coming back.

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They're allowed to use their discretion a little bit,

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but basically we don't do it too much simply

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because the person has paid for that extra ticket.

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They're like, well hang on, I could have just come down

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later on the day.

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Every venue goes through it,

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but we do want to create an atmosphere for the player.

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So we're Nick Kerrio's place in doubles a couple of years ago

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at one o'clock in the morning because of rain.

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You know, we told the people then,

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look, come on down, you can't come to the very first two rows,

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but you can come on down from the other rows

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and we've got them there because the players

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want to have an atmosphere.

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So look, I'll be honest, go watch another sporting event.

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You can see where the price break is in his seats

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because all of a sudden the people are from the fifth row

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up its pack, so you go, okay.

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So fourth row is where the difference prices are sort of things.

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So we've done, look, even for our own team,

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Justin Plettney kind of team,

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she does a great job of managing that.

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We actually, our prices changed every couple of rows

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because we don't want to have a big section missing

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and as you get a little bit further away,

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it's a little bit cheaper on the seat.

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And as you get closer, it's a little more expensive

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because you get that different atmosphere.

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So JP has done a great job for us building out an opportunity

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for all our fans to be as close as works for them.

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- Very good.

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Speak too, if you're a mic,

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because one thing that really impressive about the Atlanta open

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and you guys got it earlier than most is the,

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as you said, the experience, the atmosphere,

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if you love tennis, obviously,

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we got great tennis.

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But there's a lot going on.

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You have the exhibition in the beginning of the week.

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You do a great run up to the tournament.

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Speak to the whole experience

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that actually culminates in the Atlanta open.

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- Yeah, look, I mean, a goal and a dream goal

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that Eddie used to have and I still have

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and we all have as a company,

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is it's an event that tennis has played at.

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That you're coming down there for,

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don't have to love tennis to come down there.

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It's a place to be.

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We try and get where we do our kick off event.

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We try and do that each year at a new place,

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somewhere different and invite lots of new people

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to see our events.

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So we start there.

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We brought Riley and Perlka into town to do some hits

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on TV, Riley, unfortunately, is injured

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and can't play.

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He might be playing till probably next January with his wrist.

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So we try and lead up to that.

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We have a media day.

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We're in the out of the field.

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Then we're doing our event where we're

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focusing our court on Friday.

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Then we have the kids day that's free,

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that's presented by public.

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So kids 12 and under all weekend on the qualifying get in.

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And then we do have our Sunday showdown delivered by UPS

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with Coco, Gough and Layla Fernandez.

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But the other things that we have this year,

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we're actually having a signature dessert.

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And I ask groups of volunteers this question,

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what do they think the signature dessert

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for the Atlanta Open should be?

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And I'll give you guys a chance.

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I don't know if you've seen it in the press yet,

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but I give you guys the chance.

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What do you think the signature dessert should be

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at an event here at the Atlanta Open?

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Take a shot.

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Kim Lime pie or something.

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It's got to be something peach, right?

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Wait a minute.

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Yeah, think about it.

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Come on now.

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I'll go peach cobbler.

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Absolutely.

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Absolutely right.

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It's peach cobbler with ice cream.

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Sonny's barbecue is creating very Atlanta.

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Absolutely.

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In between Sonny's sonny's and they have that mac and cheese,

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I said to them, hey, I'm good.

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Now I want to look the same after we

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are eating mac and cheese and peach cobbler with ice cream.

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But Sonny's has been a tremendous partner with us for years

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and so I said to them, guys, let's make a dessert.

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Everybody does a dream.

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Let's do something different.

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Let's do a dessert.

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So we're doing that.

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And then this year down on the, for us, which is great,

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on the southeast corner of our venue,

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we're actually bringing in food trucks.

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We're bringing in a total of six

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and they'll rotate through the day.

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There'll be picnic tables down there.

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So we're going to have some different food things out there

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which people are going to be able to say, okay,

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so today it's Mediterranean, tomorrow it's Italian,

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tomorrow it's a little bit different.

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So that we've got some different food options for people.

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One of the other ones that I'm excited to see,

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I haven't actually seen it, but we've done a partnership

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with SCAD and the SCAD University is unbelievable.

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And I've always looked at that billboard across the street

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and said, hang on, we need to do something with him.

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So I went and did a tour.

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It's an absolutely amazing facility.

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They were partnering with us on our kickoff event

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with the artwork at the venue we're at.

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And so they're going to create a mural for us,

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an interactive mural.

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And so it's going up on tomorrow.

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And what will do is you sort of you take a picture of it

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and then all of a sudden the tennis balls start flying

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at you and all this sort of stuff, really, really cool.

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And they've also done a T-shirt design for ATF.

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The great program that we have at Land of Youth,

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Tennis and Education Foundation.

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So they're doing that.

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So we've partnered with them.

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So I can't wait to see the mural.

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I can't wait to see the T-shirt on the kids.

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And then even in our gathering area,

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under the big tent when you guys coming through the front door,

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we've upgraded that.

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We've got a new video board.

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We've got new furniture in there.

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So look, I think the fans are going to have fun sitting in there

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and we've got their music acts every evening in there.

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So sitting watching a little bit of tennis, listening to some music,

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grab some food from the food trucks, go up to Sunnies

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and get your signature dessert,

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have your mind blown with an interactive mural?

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I mean, I think we're getting just that all covered.

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Well, I think it's awesome.

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That's a full, you know, Atlanta's a Tier 1 city.

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Absolutely.

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And it deserves a huge experience.

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And again, I think you guys get it.

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And you know, things just keep getting better.

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And obviously the player enhancements

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is only going to make it where this becomes a must-do in July.

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Now, is it better or worse being so close to Wimbledon?

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Because we left before we got on the phone with you saying,

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you know, we remember July 4th used to be the end of Wimbledon.

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Remember the '80s, Springsteen and Mackinar, born in the USA.

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And now Wimbledon's ending the 15th.

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Is that-- do you think that does that help you guys?

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That it's so fresh on everybody's mind?

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Look, it's sort of this--

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we're in a good position where we are this week out.

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It gives people enough time.

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And when you have somebody like Chris do as well as he did,

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it creates a lot of buzz and everybody's excited.

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And you know, you continue that buzz, especially

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with one of our players doing so well.

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The challenge is, is the players get worn out.

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I mean, somebody like Chris, who's, you know,

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wins New Yorker and then has those two weeks,

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these bodies never played that amount of tennis.

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So look, I had to have a bit of a discussion

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with his team about, look, you know, I know he wants to play it.

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I know he want to have them a part of it.

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But is he able to do because of his body?

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So it's a little weird.

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It's great for us.

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But when the guys get to the quarter finals or beyond,

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it's hard for their body not to be worn out.

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And so, yes, I think this is a great week.

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But when a player does really well at Wimbledon,

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then that, you know, I quite often expect

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that call from them that says, hey guys, you know,

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he can't make it today because, you know,

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the body is just tired.

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So Chris's team has done a great job of keeping him, you know,

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rested and he's making that decision along with them.

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So you know, we're excited that he wants to play here.

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And he's, he wants, he only wants to play when he's healthy.

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So, you know, that was the only one thing.

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But he thinks he's going to be ready and we're excited

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to have him here.

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But as it relates to Wimbledon, we're about the right spot.

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Maybe one more week might be more helpful.

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So that way the guy can get to the final Wimbledon.

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He'd still be ready for us, but where we are,

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I think it, it works for us.

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Now, you're back to the CD, excuse me real quick.

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And you're talking about do you always leave a seat

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next to Patricia Jensen open so she can put her in the meeting

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and it gives everybody the opportunity to come kiss the ring?

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Well, you know, I, I, I say one seed.

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It never stays one seed with Patricia.

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There's always more than one.

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But look, Patricia, I've known her for years.

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Since Luke and Murphy were coming and playing

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in the event, I ran it Memphis.

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And look, I, one of the first things I ever did

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with tennis tournaments was run the ball kids.

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So it was kind of interesting how we, we have this very strong

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connection based on, on that aspect.

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And as you mentioned, the Golden Retrievers,

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her and I have talked about the way I used to encourage kids

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that were a little too young to be out on the court from pure safety

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standpoint.

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So look, Patricia is fantastic.

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She loves the kid.

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She loves tennis.

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She loves the tournament.

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I mean, look, you know, when you look back and you find those

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old pictures of Luke and Murphy in their sort of petrol jackets,

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I guess gas station jackets, petrol, that's my Australian throwback.

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You know, she was ahead of the deal on marketing

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and pushing the envelope already.

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So, you know, that's where she is on, on that.

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So love, Patricia and yes, I always say for one,

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but it never turns out to be one.

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[LAUGHS]

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So next year, I'm going to, I want to put it in,

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Paul, because we have where I, where I work out of Windermere,

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has such a deep connection to the tournament

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between the Cadillac connection and the Becky Robinson

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connection.

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When do we get you to make the announcement up at Windermere

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in coming, Jordan?

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Well, I'll tell you what, I think we might have to,

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we might have to put that together pretty soon right there.

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You know, Becky's out social, she works in social media

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and she's so much fun.

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Becky, I, she has these ideas, I look at them and I go,

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"Mm, and she does them and everybody then loves them."

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It's kind of amazing what she does,

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but we'll have to get you all out there and make it a,

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sort of a big group there with Becky and Patricia and you guys.

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So we'll, we'll do that.

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Oh, you're not going to, you're not going to invite Sam.

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Come on, we'll be out there.

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Well, Sam, Sam's already there.

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That's, well, actually, that's what I'm doing right now.

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I am, I'm about to jump in a van and drive our volunteers up

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to go and pick up the rest of the Cadillacs from Sam's place.

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So yeah, it's a very, it's a very small world

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that we're living in, but all the volunteers are going to be

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very quiet while I'm driving and talking in my earpods.

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So I don't have it in my hand.

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So we can do this, we can do this podcast and keep doing it safely.

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(laughs)

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No, well, we knew we had a limited window with you.

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So we, we understand completely, we appreciate obviously a week,

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less than a week out.

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You have a lot on your plate.

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Anything you'd like to tell the Atlanta market

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to get them even more fired up about the experience.

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Look, coming out and see the event.

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It's going to be, it's going to be fun with the,

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with the extra additions, the different look and feel.

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Chris is going to be playing on Monday or Tuesday.

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We're going to have John Isnam playing Monday, Tuesday,

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and ishaqori Isna.

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We don't know the decals on exactly what time simply

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because of the rules of the ATP has.

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But look for that for the day before and wish you

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being a good shape to have everybody come out and have a great time.

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Fantastic.

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Sean, Peter is so good off the cuff to your dare.

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Ask the King of tennis question.

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Just, it'll be a tease and we can get it

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a full answer in a later date.

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I prepared him for it.

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So I'd love to go ahead and ask and see if he's put some thought into it.

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But Peter, have you thought about it?

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If you were made King of tennis and you've got such good,

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good experience in the tennis world.

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If you were made King of tennis, is there anything you would do or change?

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You got it.

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Look, I'll tell you what, that's a question that's loaded.

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But I think we should change it.

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I think we should change tennis to a much more open and interactive and fun thing.

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Like, look, we treat these guys like they're too special

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and we need to just let them go crazy.

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Like, for instance, here at Lent, open,

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we're going to be throwing t-shirts out on changeovers.

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We're going to have things happening on the court

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like we do at a basketball event and not on the other ones.

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We need to have the fans more engaged.

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The idea of being quiet, that's for the birds.

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We've got to figure out a way to be a little bit louder out there

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and get the fans engaged.

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So see that at the Lent to open, but that's what I would do.

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I would say, let's make our matches shorter.

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But have them a little quicker and let's have a lot more fan interactions.

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But, you know, Frances Tiafone, I agree on that.

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We talked about it in Dallas.

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And now we just got to sort of get everybody thinking that way.

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It can be fun.

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Just let's make it as much fun as possible.

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So that's what I would do.

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Well, we love the answer.

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I've left Peter just, again, pro to the conference strong

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and I got on the phone.

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I said, no, Peter, a while.

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And we've spoken a few times.

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I'll be curious if he's any less energetic just because he is the man now.

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And I'm proud to say you're the same Peter and the energy is awesome.

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And we're lucky to have you.

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Keep doing what you're doing.

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Thanks, Prishev.

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Look, we got a great company in our founder, Gary Firmann.

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He believes in tennis, loves tennis.

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And so it's good to work with a company that has that.

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And wants to see tennis grow in the US and look,

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when these live events come together with all the staff and volunteers

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that work hard for it, he can't help but keep the energy up.

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So thanks guys.

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Prishev.

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Thank you, Peter.

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Thank you so much.

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Be safe.

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We'll see you soon.

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Okay.

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See you guys.

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Bye now.

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Well, there you have it.

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We want to thank Rejovenate.com for use of the studio.

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And be sure to hit that follow button.

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For more tennis related content, you can go to AtlantaTennisPodcast.com.

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And while you're there, check out our calendar of tennis events, deals on equipment, apparel,

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and more.

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And you should feel good knowing that shopping at Let'sGoTennis.com helps support this show.

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You can also donate directly using links in the show notes.

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And with that, we're out.

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See you next time.

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[MUSIC]

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