Season #24 Episode#:46

Shaun and Bobby talk to Becky Robinson again and on this episode Becky brings a friend. Robin Lindner joins us to share more about the Winston Salem Open as well as her “Queen of Tennis” ideas.

In this episode of the Atlanta Tennis Podcast, Becky Robinson and Robin Lindner are featured. Becky Robinson, head of social media for the Atlanta Open and the Dallas Open, discussed her involvement in tennis and digital marketing. She shared insights about the last Atlanta Open, highlighting the excitement around final ticket sales and special events like the Champion Challenge and Venus Williams’ participation in the Sunday Showdown. Robin Lindner, marketing and communications director for the Winston Salem Open, spoke about the anticipation for upcoming tournaments and how player participation often depends on the outcomes of major events like the French Open and Wimbledon. They also talked about successful social media campaigns, including a fun piece called “What’s in the Box?” that engaged players and entertained fans.

YouTube Full Video: https://youtu.be/htHH203wWTs

Robin’s LinkedIn

Becky’s LinkedIn

Shaun Boyce USPTA, GPTA: [email protected]

https://tennisforchildren.com/ 🎾

Bobby Schindler USPTA, GPTA: [email protected]

https://windermerecommunity.net/ 🎾

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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,

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It Starts with Tennis and Goes From There.

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We talk with coaches, club managers,

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industry business professionals,

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technology experts, 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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And if you're interested in joining the podcast,

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please consider sharing your story.

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Tell us your favorite tennis story.

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Go to LetsGoTennis.com/mystory.

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And with each story you share,

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you'll be entered into monthly giveaways.

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And we will pick one story every month

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to share on the Atlanta Tennis Podcast.

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And with that, let's get into our recent conversation

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with Becky Robinson.

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She's the digital marketing guru for the Atlanta Open

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and the Dallas Open.

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She's invited her friend, Robin Lindner,

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who is the marketing and communications director

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for the Winston Salem Open.

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Have a listen and let us know what you think.

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(upbeat music)

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So yeah, Becky, we appreciate you coming back

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and being a part of the podcast again.

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It's been about a year, so tell us again,

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remind us who you are and why we care.

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- Absolutely.

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So my name is Becky Robinson

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and I'm head of social media for the Atlanta Open.

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I'm a professional tournament and the Dallas Open.

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And I've brought a frame with me.

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Robin here is my sidekick,

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she runs the Winston Salem Open media

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and we've worked alongside each other for what?

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Three or four years now.

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I'll let her talk about herself now.

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- Oh, God. - It was hard.

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- Oh man, okay.

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Well, Becky's in charge.

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If anything goes wrong, it's usually her fault.

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'Cause she is just a bundle of energy and ideas

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and creativity.

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And it's been a joy.

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Yeah, I mean, I think we all recognize that

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the goods in the baths, one of the reasons tennis

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has grown and some of the players have bigger

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brand identities is because of the growth of social media.

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So, you know, Becky provides an unbelievably vital service,

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not just to tournaments, but to,

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you know, to those of us who are tennis fans as well.

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So, and always, always got an idea with humor in there.

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So that's a plus.

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- Well, we're gonna want to hear some of those new ideas.

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But Becky, how are we doing?

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Sad to say, last year of the Atlanta Open.

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- Yes.

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- How are things moving along?

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- So this year, the sales are great for the last year.

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I think I personally have been sad since November

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when we first announced this personally,

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'cause I've been involved with the tournament

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since around 2015 and very sad about this.

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But people seem to be very excited to come

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because this is their last shot to come.

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So tickets sales are great.

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You know, we have the champion challenge,

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which we're bringing Andy Rodic, John Isnerbat,

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who's like the Bryan Brothers.

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So the two Isner and Rodic versus the Bryan Brothers

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is gonna be a ton of fun on the Monday night.

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And then people are super excited

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'cause we have Venus Williams coming.

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And this is her third time playing

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our Sunday Showdown, delivered by UPS,

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and she's playing Sloan Stevens.

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And since Sloan's, I believe third time as well,

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playing in Atlanta.

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So they are like Atlanta loves these two

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and they're super excited to have them back.

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So they have this like Sunday Monday,

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all Starlana of Legends coming.

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And then later on, we'll start announcing our players

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for the actual field.

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- Fantastic.

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And Robin, who do you have any idea

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who's might be coming to Winston-Salem this year?

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- We don't yet know that.

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We're a little bit later in the summer.

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So we gotta see kind of how this whole French open,

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Roland Garros, Wimbledon, things shakes out.

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It's no secret that the European swing

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is a big deal, lots of points up for grabs.

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And then we go right into the hardcore swing,

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which is arguably the most rolling portion of the season

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just because we're getting towards the end.

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The hard courts are harder on your body.

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And then you've got the temperatures to contend with.

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So we will start kind of figuring out how things shake out

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after we get through this swing

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and see how some of the guys are doing throughout the summer.

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And it's really exciting to see just as an American tournament.

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Some of the guys, you know, Tommy Paul,

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who's from North Carolina,

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is having a great season.

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So we're pretty excited about the possibilities

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for the year for sure.

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- Very good.

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But can you give us a campaign, a social media campaign

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that you have found to be successful over the last year

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and maybe we'll make people laugh?

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- That's been successful that I've done or I've seen.

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- What are you seeing, either one?

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- Hmm.

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- We want successes.

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- Yeah, I know.

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Well, last year at Atlanta,

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we did a fun piece called What's in the Box.

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And this, the players actually enjoy doing this.

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So they are reaching into a box,

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filling an object and guessing at what it is.

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And we had fun with this because we actually had like

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a remote control spider with a mullet wig on top.

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So we actually made John Isner jump off the couch

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or almost a pop-up.

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And they're like, so I don't know if the public enjoy that

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as much as the staff did because Robin was actually

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in there, she usually comes to Atlanta.

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It was in there with us and we were shooting this

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and we had a lot of fun.

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And we even said, I took, I went to public some vault socks

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and wet them and I put it in the box.

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And I was like, this is an issue for us practice socks

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just to, you know, gross them out and get it.

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We got a good reaction from Coco on that one.

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I think I told her it was you bank socks.

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So I get enjoyment from doing these funny bits.

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It's also a good stress relief during a crazy week.

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- Oh, I'm having a couple of good ones here in Winston, though.

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What about the, what about the, what do we do?

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We did Andy Murray dad jokes.

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I think that was combined where we had Andy Murray

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read these terrible dad jokes.

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- So we have to re-up it every year

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because he's just very deadpanned like Andy Murray does

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and then he would look at the arm run and say,

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"It's terrible."

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- Yeah.

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- And he would crack himself up.

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- His dry hair made it better.

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I mean, yeah.

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- And you did a great one with the mullets.

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Tell them about the mullets.

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- Oh yeah.

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So Max Priscilla and Edden had just won

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Wembleton, correct?

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It was that year.

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And then, yeah.

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So then Edden was playing with Murray.

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- Maybe.

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- Yeah.

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- Same Murray.

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- And so they won with SSAILM.

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So I had just grabbed this mullet wig at an antique mark

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like the day of finals.

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And so,

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luckily, Edden has a very good sport.

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And he put it on for us and we've got some good video

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and pictures of that.

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So he was missing Max's mullet partner at that event.

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- So outside of obviously selling tickets,

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raising awareness,

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what is your goal in social media?

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- Yeah, upside of ticket sales.

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I mean, I think for Atlanta,

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and I've mentioned this in the past

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and Robin has the same challenge.

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You know, most people don't understand the levels

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of professional ATP tournaments with,

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we're a 250, 500,000 Grand Slam.

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We're not a Grand Slam, obviously.

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So we haven't had better in the past and at all.

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But we have a great player feel.

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So it's really kind of telling that story of how we have a great,

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we always have the strongest American players

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most for the most part.

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And it's just really kind of telling that story,

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not just to the Atlanta market,

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but also international, we have a ton of international fans,

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who just enjoy our content and the story there.

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But also, we're trying to reach that non-tenous player,

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you know, the non-tenous family want them to come out.

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So we also have to try to tell the story of,

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why is this fun for you if you don't play?

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You enjoy just coming out for date night,

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having a drink, good food, you know, watching live sports.

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You know, even sports, I'm not like,

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don't know much about anything.

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Lots of me is great.

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So much better, right?

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To watch it live.

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So I think it's kind of multiple things, right?

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But kind of putting Atlanta out there

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as a unique tournament and brand

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for not only people to experience in person,

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but just enjoy it digitally and, you know, our story.

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- Robin, you can care?

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- I do, yeah, I mean, and Becky's kind of hit the nail

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on the head, the challenge for some of the tournaments

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on the smaller end of things continue to be drawing

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in fans without having your Roger Rafa Novak.

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And as things start to change, you know,

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we're seeing that changing of the guard.

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We do have more stories.

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But there's a lot of this misconception out there

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that it's a very elitist opportunity, right?

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That you have to be a country club member,

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that you have to be, you know, extremely wealthy,

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that it is not fun, that it is boring,

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that it is quiet, that you have to sit still,

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you have to sit still sometimes.

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And so what we're trying to do though,

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is make it more tangible, more touchable, more relatable.

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And we've made a really strong pivot the last few years

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to make it more of a community event.

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Come on out, have a drink, girls night out, moms night out,

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teacher night, military appreciation night.

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We have a very successful kids day, opening day,

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you can get in for free if you bring school supplies

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or, you know, fill the food bank.

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The whole attitude is we are not just something

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that goes away and comes back for the tournament.

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We're here all year round.

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We're doing things, we're involved with local businesses.

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We're involved with entrepreneurs.

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We're involved with public tennis.

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It is not just something that's way up here

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and intangible, it's something that's actually a part

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of our community.

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- I love the answer.

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I was the tournament director for the senior tour

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back in the early 2000s.

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And I had that same argument with the powers that be,

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we need to be a year long presence.

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We need to communicate our message.

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And as you said, make it where you just don't have

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your tennis player.

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- And that's one of the things.

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- This is something to do.

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- We've really tried to lean into over the last few years.

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We've given about $60,000 in the last couple of years

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to our local schools, their middle school athletic program.

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So money for things like soccer or a cross country,

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you know, track and field, stuff like that.

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We also give money to, you know,

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our grassroots USDA type programs,

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young folks tennis, which is free lessons for people

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who can't afford or want to try the Community Tennis

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Association's paying for balls or officials

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or court resurfacing.

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The Winston-Salem Open supports a lot of that stuff.

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Because again, we want this to be something that people can

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use and can benefit from.

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And not just something that's a one week out of the year

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kind of thing.

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- Absolutely.

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Becky, what have we done in Atlanta along those same lines?

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Where did some of our interest lay?

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- Of course you asked me to answer.

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I don't have these impressive dollar figures

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that Robin had just now.

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I don't, I mean, you know, we partner with UPS each year

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and they do kind of this diversity and tennis aspect

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that we work with them on and they do a lot of that

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on the side.

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I mean, we work with the USDA with the kids program

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with kids day, you know, we did donations with like

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Fulton Flag Foundation and groups like that in the past.

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But you know, we're always trying to get the children involved

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with the kids day and make it a discounted ticket

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for qualifying weekend or a free ticket.

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But I won't get them free, I believe.

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We're currently working on that with US here right now.

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But yeah, I don't think my interest is impressive as Robin,

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but it does exist out there.

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(laughs)

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- I apologize for putting you on the spot

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because part of my train of thought is again,

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if we always try to point to Atlanta, Winston-Salem

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would help me geographically.

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You're on the camp, are you at Wake Forest?

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- We are.

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We are in the same sort of setup as their football stadium.

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And the sort of the origin story of the Winston-Salem

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Open is pretty bizarre.

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Some local businessmen got together,

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looked at the parking lot outside of the football field

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and said, we're gonna build a tennis facility.

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And so that is where all of the Wake Men and Women's matches are.

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There's an indoor facility.

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So that's where it's not directly

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on the central portion of Wake Forest campus,

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but it is about five minutes away from central campus

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where they have football games.

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And then we have tennis there year round.

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We just had a junior tournament there last weekend.

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And we'll have another one in a couple of weeks.

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And then of course, like I said,

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the men's and women's team are training year round.

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USDA matches are played there, stuff like that.

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- So did you actually,

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do you know any of the businessmen that had that vision

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that might have had an Atlanta origin story?

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Did you get to meet Billy?

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- I did work with Bill Oaks for several years.

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Yes, I did.

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I've been involved with the Winston-Salem Open

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since its inception in 2011.

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I was a volunteer in those days,

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but I was a volunteer that actually built

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our very first Facebook page.

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So, and I had just come out of broadcasting here in town.

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So, I knew a lot of those people.

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And Bill was instrumental in getting that off the ground.

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And it was very, very ambitious

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because they sort of looked at the parking lot

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and said in eight months,

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we're gonna have a tennis tournament.

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And everybody here in town went,

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okay, what are you drinking?

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You know?

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- Yeah.

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- But it came to fruition and it's grown

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and it's grown and it's grown ever since.

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We're getting ready to install some new permanent seating

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in the hospitality center.

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We put in these crazy lights,

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these lights that are all over the facility now

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that are on par with the US Open Lights.

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The courts are just like the US Open courts.

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We resurface those.

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So, that a lot of that sort of vision came into town

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when Bill came here after leaving Atlanta.

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- And again, to his credit,

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because I think that's one of the things

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that always has hurt Atlanta's tennis is what you described.

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There was never a permanent place.

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There was nothing that went on afterwards.

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I mean, where it is now,

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people are driving past it and saying, wait a minute,

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there's a building being built

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and that's not even Circus, Soleil.

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There's a different circus in town.

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Where's the tournament gonna be played?

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Becky, how hard is it selling that image in that story?

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When you say, oh no, it's gonna be there.

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It'll be there in another month.

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- Yeah, it's funny 'cause Eddie would always say,

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we have a party in a parking lot kind of thing.

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We build the stadium in like two months, maybe something like that.

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It's crazy and people, when we announced we were ending,

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we're like, yeah, I heard you're lost your spot.

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Now, we lost our practice course.

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It got bald, it's now being built.

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So that's like right there by C's that going up.

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So then we try to do a lot of the large sign

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in terms of the start and going that you can see from '75,

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to build it up.

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I mean, we have a lot of things we have to counter

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and people's opinions.

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We don't go on social and argue with people

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that just make incorrect assumptions about things

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which are for frustrating for us.

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I guess we mentioned before, we didn't pick,

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like July is our date, we didn't get to keep it.

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HTP says, here you go.

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It's just those comments like,

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why would you have it in July?

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Things like that and then this stadium, you know,

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why can't you build a roof?

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Becky, why can't you build a roof?

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So every time we're rained out,

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where my team and I are just screenshotting

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the Twitter X comments, they're just ridiculous.

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Why would you not build a roof?

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Like, when is it going to start raining?

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When exactly will the match start back?

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I like, we did or not psych it.

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And also, what do you think it costs

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to build a permanent stadium with a roof?

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And let's just kind of guess at how much you think

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we make and ticket sales and sponsorship

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versus what that would cost.

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And that's what a lot of people just don't really,

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you know, connect the dots on that be realistic.

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- Well, having been in this city for a long time,

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I think that the frustration goes back to the Olympics.

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And that decision to put the Olympic venue,

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where they placed it, again, Atlanta was competing

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at that point.

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People don't even realize for the US Open.

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- Yeah.

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- It was, you know, the buzz and the power

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of Atlanta's recreational tennis was so great

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that the US Open was seriously considering moving.

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And then the Olympics occurred

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and probably not a lot came out positive about the Olympics.

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So it's been, that's why I ask because it's a very hard city

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to put on a professional tennis event.

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When you're, like you said, you're dealing with temperatures,

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you're dealing with for better or worse

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and you say which one, not the elite names.

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So you don't have name recognition.

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And you're dealing with that as you said,

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a culture that we get ready for the event.

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I think Winston-Salem, I love what they're doing.

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I love the ability to have boots on the ground

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12 months out of the year.

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That's a huge advantage.

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- Yeah, there are challenges about that though.

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I mean, the thing about that is you have to realize

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that Atlanta's owned by a bigger company.

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So, you know, we're still a locally owned, if you will,

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tournament.

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We haven't sold the naning rights, you know, things like that

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for a long time, it was the BB and T Atlanta open,

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all of those things.

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And I mean, the other thing that Atlanta's got to contend with

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that isn't Atlanta's fault, it's, or the events fault,

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is that it is a very crowded professional sports market.

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You know, you have, you have baseball, you know, you have,

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and you have one of the most iconic baseball teams

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to exist, right?

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And you've got a football team, things like that.

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And that is just, you've got traffic,

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you've got cost of living, you've got transportation,

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you've got a crowded marketplace.

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And then you have the heart of the heart of the heart

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of the summer.

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And those are things that no matter if we did have, you know,

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I mean, we would have to have Roger Federer come out

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of retirement, you know, it's a really mobilized people

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to get out there and contend with all of those challenges

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that Becky gets to lovingly face and try to infuse

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with humor across digital.

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But I mean, I've been to Atlanta

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and I think that that spot while having its challenges

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is nice in some ways because you have all of the entertainment

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and the bars and the restaurants and things like that

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where you can grab something to eat

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and kind of make a night of it.

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But yeah, I mean, Atlanta is a monster market.

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And it's just a constant battle for time and attention,

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which is a challenge.

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And then here, we're right next to the US open

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and right after Cincinnati.

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So we're getting squeezed.

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And so that's our challenge.

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And this year, we get a new challenge

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because school will start five days

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before the tournament starts.

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So I think a lot of the challenges that we face

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as tennis fans aren't like Becky said of our making.

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We can control the weather.

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We can get full-player injuries.

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And we certainly can control school calendars

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and, you know, permanent roofs.

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So it's been an exercise in creativity

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for those of us who really want to see tennis continue

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to grow.

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Because it's greater injuries, it's one that

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probably the most about we have absolutely no control.

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And we didn't fake.

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We didn't pay someone and then say,

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we knew there were never going to be like,

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to sell tickets, which we get accused of, right?

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So it's unfortunate.

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Well, and again, I completely agree.

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It's not to put back in.

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And these are more, as I think you

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go about to your queen of tennis question last year,

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where we can't even get out to do us a favor

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and not play that weekend.

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So we can have a clear slate of just the Atlanta open.

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Because it out of stops for nothing.

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You know, I think Christmas and the 4th of July

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out there won't play, but besides that, we're playing.

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Oh, no, we have 4th of July on our team.

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That's in this year.

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You do have 4th of July.

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Oh, Lady Tennis.

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I'm like, no.

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Yeah, I know.

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But your partner is like, you're kidding.

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They're playing on the 4th of July.

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So yes, and that is one of my big things.

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Again, don't back to tennis and why I like

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we're winning since.

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Because it's part of it is a cultural change.

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We have to stop the insanity and realize, as you said, Atlanta.

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And I've said this, and I'll go back to my days

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with the senior tour again.

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And Robin, when I was the side shot alluded

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to my brief broadcast in crabbs, this sideline

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announcer for a few professional events here in Atlanta.

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And when they decided to do mid-October,

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I just randomly asked, did you guys call to see

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whether Georgia was in town?

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And they said, what?

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I said, do you call to see if Georgia Tech was in town?

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And they said, what?

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So during Saturday's matches, I started

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reading off the college football scores.

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And when Mississippi State upset Auburn in the crowd

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when crazy, they came up to me and said,

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you've proven your point.

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Stop it.

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Because they took it.

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You got to know your market.

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And you often know what motivates the folks.

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And in October, it's not easy too,

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because people are going back to their schools

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to watch a football game.

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So--

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Our week is coincidentally usually

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right alongside Panther training camp.

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So we have to contend with training camp and the Panthers.

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And the other thing, I think that's

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been a challenge for events like Atlanta and like ours

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is that local journalism is underfunded and understaffed.

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And so the people that used to come out

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and cover your event and really get people talking

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and really get people motivated are doing more hours of news

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and producing more content with fewer resources.

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So it's very tough.

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If you have to make a choice between Georgia football

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or Georgia Tech football or a concert or some kind

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of feature story like that or tennis,

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we just-- we don't have the sports staff

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to cover things like that.

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I mean, I know that on local newsrooms have just been decimated

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across the country.

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So people are trying to do more with less.

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Getting photographers, getting videographers,

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getting writers, just getting even content on local websites

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and in local newsrooms is a tough ask these days.

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The AJC is just a monster paper and has got such a great reputation.

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But again, they're doing a whole lot more with a whole lot less.

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And that's just a tough out for anybody in this kind of environment

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where all of the money comes from NBA, NFL, MLB.

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Well, and as you said, I truly believe, as you said,

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and I thought it's a great point,

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you can't just limit it to sports.

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You just can't limit it to tennis.

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You're talking about everything that is going on within the Metro

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City of Atlanta is your competitor.

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And during that time, I mean, I have layman's coming in next week.

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I will have Hamilton just left.

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It is a major city on every level of the arts.

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We have how many concerts, I got here, there was Lakewood.

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There's four, outdoor concert venues that draw people

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throughout the summer.

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It's crazy.

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And it speaks to the volumes to yes, what goes on in Atlanta.

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But it does make it very difficult.

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I've always said, I always felt that this event would be

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so much more successful.

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Take it up, I'm Metro Atlanta.

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I'm 35 miles north in one of the suburbs.

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You put this in where Becky and I live in coming Georgia,

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I think we do really well here.

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Right.

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Because you will embrace it and make it our event for the year.

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And we will answer to wanting to show the world coming

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in Alfa Reda in Milton, as opposed to City of Atlanta,

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which everybody gets to see.

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Like you said, the braze represent us.

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The Falcons represent us.

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We have thriving arts.

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This would have been better served moving further north.

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I want to go back to the competition.

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And Dallas, our finals are Super Bowl Sunday.

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Isn't that awesome?

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In Texas, that's tough.

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Yes, I'm like, OK, we've got a winner.

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I've put him out there a lot.

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Should I just stop now?

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Because everybody's watching the game.

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Well, likely we have him earlier in the day,

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but it's still a challenge for getting the digital noise out

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there.

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Yeah, there's not a lot of oxygen during that time period.

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Especially this past year with the chiefs and the Super Bowl.

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I mean, you got to compete with Taylor Swift making appearances

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and play that.

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And then you have to compete with Taylor Swift

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and making appearances at the Super Bowl with the chiefs.

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So--

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That's been-- go ahead, sorry.

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Go ahead.

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Go ahead.

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That was when we have to use our brains

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and tie in Taylor Swift content with the players.

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And we have to get into part of that conversation.

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We had the players say, what's your favorite Taylor Swift song?

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We're like, yeah, he's going to be fun piece.

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And they're like, we don't listen to her.

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We're seeing the one.

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So finally, we're like, here, will you please just say this

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song for our song camera?

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We need some content in your guys.

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Can I get Bobby?

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I was just curious now as we talk about the competition

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and everything happening.

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Why is it-- I want to go back to one of the first things

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Robin mentioned.

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Why is it that we can go to a baseball game?

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And we don't play baseball.

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We go to a football game.

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We go to a soccer match.

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We don't play those sports.

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We go and we enjoy it.

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Baseball games were great.

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There was just a bunch of people and hot dogs and coax and drinks.

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And it was a family event.

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It was a lot of fun.

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Why?

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And I'm curious if there is an answer.

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Why do people think if you don't play tennis,

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therefore you don't go and watch tennis?

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Why is that different compared to the other sports?

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Who are you asking?

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I don't know.

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Everybody's asking.

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I mean, I have friends who don't play in our huge tennis

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fans, so there are those people.

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I mean, and I'm like, great.

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But I don't know.

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Robin has a better answer for that.

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I mean, I grew up playing, so then I like to watch it.

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And so I don't know.

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I think we have-- I mean, I guess, majority of the fans

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that are in the sitting in the stands are players,

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but there are--

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I mean, psychologically, the more we're exposed

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to something, the more relatable it becomes,

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or the more we're familiar with it,

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or the more we're comfortable with it.

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So before we had cable, if you will, even before we had all

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of these options, you could watch a basketball game,

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or a football game, or a baseball game, on television.

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And if you were lucky enough to be in a round or near

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a professional team, I grew up in Virginia.

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And so we didn't really have.

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I mean, we had a AAA ball club.

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And for a long time, it fed the Mets.

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And so you had a lot of people in Virginia

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who were Mets fans, including me, because our ball club

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fed the Mets.

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We have a hockey team.

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The Hampton Roads Admoles, and they fed the DCT.

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So you've got a lot of these things that are just available

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and familiar to you.

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And you have multiple opportunities to go.

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If you have a football team, they don't just have one game.

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They have a season.

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Same thing with baseball, same thing with hockey, basketball.

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You have all of those opportunities to be exposed to something.

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There's a lot of money there.

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They're constantly promoting.

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It's something that people talk about.

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It's a sense of pride because it is your team.

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That's your sort of thing.

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And tennis is an individual sport.

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And tennis doesn't have a whole season.

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It goes all over the world.

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It's sort of like minus car, right?

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Where, I mean, if you really think about it,

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people get into NASCAR drivers, or they get into racing

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brands.

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And so they're like, I'm a Ford guy.

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Oh, I won't root for a Chevy driver.

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So you have all of those kinds of things going on.

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But that, again, is a season.

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And it's in this country.

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So they travel all over our country from February to November.

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Tennis is only in this country a few months out of the year.

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So there's limited exposure.

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Most of the players aren't American.

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They're foreign.

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And then you can't exactly go out to--

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you can't pick up tennis the way you can play pickup basketball.

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Now, the USDA has worked very hard over the last few years

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with these different types of programs

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and these different types of entries to tennis.

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We've got something in North Carolina called Tri-Tennis.

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And it's a pathway.

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It's six weeks.

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It's about $50.

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I think you get five or six weeks of lessons

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and a tennis racket.

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Everyone's a beginner.

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Nobody has to be any good.

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You have Tri-Tennis, Tri-Match, Tri-Play.

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And you work your way up into perhaps the league system.

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It's just not that common.

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We have Little League.

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We have Soccer.

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We have Little League football, Pop Warner football.

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We have so many fewer options to grow these young tennis

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fans.

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And typically, your family's going to have had a tie

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like Becky was saying.

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So I think we're just psychologically

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not exposed to it as much.

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And that's why these grassroots programs

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and these 250 tournaments are super important

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to the overall health and well-being of our sport.

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People need to touch something.

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They need to see something to have that memory.

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And the more emphasis we place on the master's tournaments,

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the fewer people have an opportunity

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to touch that and make that emotional connection.

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That was probably more of an answer than you wanted.

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But that's exactly the answer I wanted.

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Because I think that even further back to what Becky was saying

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about-- I was laughing when she was talking about competing

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in Texas.

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I have Texas undergraduate roots.

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And I remember in the mid-to-late 1980s,

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where high school football preempted the World Series.

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So that's a pretty big thing to overcome when you're

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talking about it.

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We think about Georgia and football.

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Well, Texas, it's worse.

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There's that show Friday and that movie Friday night.

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Right, right.

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It's ideal.

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But like you saying now, go back to where I think your point

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you're so spot on.

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Look at the US Open.

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Anybody who goes to the US Open knows the first week

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is for business and partiers.

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That's why the players aren't necessarily thrilled

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because you don't have an educated quote-unquote tennis

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audience who's there to have fun.

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And they yes, some live will just scream at 1 o'clock

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in the morning because they're drunk.

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And that's what they came for.

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And then the second week transitions more

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into your tennis enthusiast, your tennis passion.

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And what you're saying is all true.

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And I'm of the belief where tennis

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doesn't do a good enough job.

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And the USDA is laid to the game is doing what--

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you don't want to-- why, like Sean said,

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why do you have to be a player?

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Why isn't it familiar?

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Like you said, if you knew the event was coming each year,

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and it was something that you enjoyed

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and you created an atmosphere, it becomes a thing to do.

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Other part is the extension.

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I think Atlanta, when I first got here years and years ago,

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the event was a clay court event held in March and April.

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You want to talk about weather problems?

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That thing always got wet.

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There was always a rain day involved without event.

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And then we moved it.

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OK, we're going to bring it tennis back.

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And we bring it to July, equally not the most fun part.

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And then throw it all the other way.

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So I think it is.

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I mean, that's my point is what you're saying.

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I agree.

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Oh, holyly, familiarity being there, day after day,

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knowing that this is something that I'm going to do

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and capitalizing, making it a fun experience

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when people tell their friends.

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And they'll come back.

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And it takes time.

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And I just feel like tennis is really--

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whether the financials for whatever reason,

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it's never really taken the time.

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They felt when we did it with the senior tour, the logistics--

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oh, well, we didn't come in and set up in two weeks.

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Yeah, but I can't sell tickets in two weeks.

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I can-- you can put up chairs in two weeks,

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but to get your sponsors, to get the culture,

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to get the environment, you need far more than two weeks.

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And I think you nailed it.

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I--

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The players, the players too, they're either really good

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at helping us or not.

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The players, personalities are all over the place.

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That's why each time-- each tournament,

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we get to sit down with the players we asked for.

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And we're planning content.

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We're like, we got such a big difference in personalities

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here.

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So what are we going to do?

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We know that he hates doing stuff with me,

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but he's got to.

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And we know he's funny and he's always

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going to be great, Tiafo.

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So not just on camera, but just in general,

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are you helping the events you're playing?

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Like, some are really good about that and some are not.

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And so definitely, I think some could be better about that,

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as well.

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Not necessarily.

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So that goes to NASCAR.

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Yeah.

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What a great job NASCAR does.

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Marketing a sport where you only make left turns.

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Well, they made the players accessible,

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but the driver's accessible.

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As Robin said, you ask any NASCAR fan in, they'll tell you.

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And I'm going to date myself, OK, Jeff Jordan.

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Don't they'll list you, Jeff Jordan sponsors?

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And when you ask them, do you have a tendency

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to pick those sponsors?

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Because their affiliation with Jeff Jordan, absolutely.

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And I don't know if tennis--

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outside of the Conners, Mac and Road, glory days.

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And probably, I can see with the Nike and just do it,

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how many tennis players have had that effect.

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And I don't blame it on this early in the players.

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It takes time to cultivate.

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And it's a little more work.

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And the institution of tennis, as I know, is help.

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They like it when we can market a Pete Sanvers,

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or Roger Federal.

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Who doesn't?

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Yeah, that makes the game a lot easier to sell.

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Yeah.

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And in the general fans' knowledge of players,

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I know that I've got a select few that people resonate with.

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And I want to push these other great players,

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but they may not get that traction.

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So you have that as social challenge.

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Sean, you're still there.

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I'm exhausted.

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I don't want to be the host anymore.

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It's newer a lot.

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I don't want to be the host anymore.

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But we made it easy, man.

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Robin's answer.

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I just like the sarcastic comments I make.

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I don't want to have to ask.

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It's like when I keep score on the court, I don't keep score.

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Somebody else does.

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I don't know.

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So yes, thank you, ladies, for spending some time.

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I think Sean's got something for you.

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I always want to ask the King of tennis question.

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But I do want to get both of you an opportunity.

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And Becky, you've been here before.

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So I'll start with you.

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Is there anything interesting, Atlanta open?

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Anything you've got to share?

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I know we're running a trip.

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So we've grabbed a bunch of people, and we've funneled them

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into our GoTennis page.

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And we're selling some discounted tickets.

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And we got some sponsors.

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And we're trying to promote an event that Wednesday night.

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Do you know what your evenings are?

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And the things you're going to do at college night,

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and you've got Chase Hodges coming in.

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What do you have going on this year?

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Yeah.

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I mean, several things in the works.

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I mean, the biggest thing, obviously, is this the last one.

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So we're going to do a lot of throwback

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recommendations of people who've helped this tournament through 15

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years.

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So we'll do a lot of recommendations there.

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I already mentioned that all the stars

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were bringing back the Rodics and the Venus'

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that are coming out.

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We will be announcing our college night.

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We are having that in the player.

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June 25th, I believe, is when we get our player filled.

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So when that comes out, we'll be talking about who's

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playing college night and which players we have coming.

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So that's one thing.

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We always do a military appreciation night, an all-to-night

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USDA day, all that kids day.

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Well, tradition.

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We have Lady's Day, two days of that,

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which I think is pretty much sold out, which is a great--

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they get to do drills and watch some tennis.

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So we're really continuing to lie at the same programs

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that have been successful in the past.

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We'll have a program earlier in the week.

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So I mean, there's a lot going on.

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It's kind of a general schedule of events going on.

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But I think most importantly, it's just

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we're crowning our final champion.

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And so I think final's day is going to be a really special day

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to be a part of a happy and a sad day.

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But I hope a lot of people will come out for that.

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OK, I appreciate that.

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And everybody can go to what?

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Atlanta, tennis, open--

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Atlanta, open-tennis.com, yes.

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OK.

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And all that will be there, which is good.

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We'll put all that in the show notes

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and make sure everybody can get there as well.

Speaker:

Next year, we're going to have a go tennis night.

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And we've never got there.

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So we're going to have to figure something else out about.

Speaker:

And so Robin, what do you guys have?

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I know you're a little further out.

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You're looking at it.

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We're at 75 days plus or so from your event.

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What do you know coming up so far?

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Well, we're doing--

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we've done a little bit of research the last few years

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in a row after the tournament with people that have bought tickets.

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And we've gotten some fairly consistent responses.

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So we can't install the roof.

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We always get asked for room.

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We always get asked for good weather.

Speaker:

And we always get Roger, Rafa, and Noley.

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And that never changes.

Speaker:

So those requests were not able to meet.

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But we are installing some new fan amenities.

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So we're going to have some more bars.

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We're going to have some more shaded areas.

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We are looking at our facility.

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The practice courts are split.

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Like there's a pie in between the practice,

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the banks of practice courts.

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So we're going to have the practice patio.

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And we're going to have places where you can chill out

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with your drinks.

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We're going to have some more food truck offerings

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so people can kind of mill around.

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We're installing a new sort of big tented area where people

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can come in.

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There's going to be another bar area there, again,

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to sit down to eat, to take a respite, if you will, from the heat.

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I think we're going to be-- I think we're

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going to be calling it the Oasis, with the Ace being the operative word there.

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So we've got that going on.

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And then we are going to be bringing back

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some sort of internment events, things

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like honoring military firefighters, first responders, teachers,

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stuff like that.

Speaker:

So those kinds of things, again, leaning

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into our community where we want people from the surrounding areas

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to be able to get here.

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Our parking is still free.

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It's right next to this stadium.

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You drive up, you walk in.

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That's pretty much it.

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We also kept our pricing flat from 2023 to 2024.

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And we actually did something different this year

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where we put all of our tickets on sale earlier.

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So if you have a favorite session or you want a daily double

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where you get the same seat for both sessions

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or you want to just go to Championship Weekend, all of that stuff is on sale.

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We've brought back sizable discounts for group sales.

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We're putting in some more permanent seating for friends and sponsors.

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So there's a lot of sort of permanent institutional stuff

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that's happening to really lean into the fan experience.

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I had said for a couple of years, we want people to come out

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because what is tennis?

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But we want them to stay because they have a good fan experience.

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I like the way that's put.

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We're working on a trip to come see you this year as well.

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We've got our organizers on it trying to negotiate some of those deals,

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to say, can we get our go tennis and our podcast audience?

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Hey, a little bit of a discount.

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Because there's going to be a bunch of us going.

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We'll set up with the practice courts and the amenities.

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And that's all it's love to go.

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We love to host groups.

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We love to host groups.

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I'll make sure our PA guy embarrasses you.

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We got all kinds of folks.

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I, Becky will tell you I enjoy getting all those groups of people in there

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and giving them unique experiences.

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Same thing with Becky member appreciation day.

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We have autograph sessions every day.

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Oh yeah, we would love to host you guys.

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I'm looking forward to that.

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We will make it work.

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And to pay for that, I'm going to make you answer my favorite question.

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Because Becky gets off the hook today because she's already answered it.

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But what we would love as we finish is my favorite question that we always ask,

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which is if you were king of tennis or Robin, if you were king or queen,

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in this case, queen of tennis, is there anything,

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whether it's the whole world, just in North Carolina, any scope you want,

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is there anything you would do or change?

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I would like to make tennis as a sport easier to consume as a fan.

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Because I started as a fan.

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I have a terrible time keeping up.

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And I am supposed to keep up for my job.

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Where is the tennis?

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Peacock, NBC, ABC, ESPN, ESPN Plus, tennis channel, T2, streaming.

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Like it's just so all over the place that I have to spend time almost troubleshooting

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which matches are where and what's going on.

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Some of that is the nature of the beast because you have so many options,

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especially with some of the rain that we've had recently in Roland Garros.

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Things get crazy, Wembleton gets crazy.

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But it's very hard for us as a sport to say, come join us

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when you have to go through all of these steps to figure out quite literally who's on first.

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Where am I going for this tournament, which channel has got which?

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And I would really love to see some kind of system, if you will,

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to at least track that better to make it more accessible.

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And I think that it would be nice if we could.

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I don't want to go too controversial, but I think there are some serious merits

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emerging the tours for both the WTA and the ATP.

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So that again, we can present this unified sporting opportunity and people aren't having to make all these decisions in juggle.

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That's a two good ideas.

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I'll push back on both because I think your first answer was if you were advising the queen of tennis,

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you would tell her what she needs to figure out how to do.

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You said I'd like to see this thing happen.

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Do you actually have any ideas as to how we do it?

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You mean a system like there's one website that has where all the matches are being played in what channel?

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Or are you talking about trying to get this one place like tennis channel just has to cover everything?

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So we know where it is.

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Is there an answer to that?

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Well, I think that it would be the answer as you need the research, right?

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You've got all these broadcasting deals and all these rights and all of that helps pay the bills, right?

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It has to pay the bills.

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So I'm not clear on who owns what, why and how much money is going hither and yonder.

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I don't know how all of that works.

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So I would love to see why things are the way they are and find out if there was a more streamlined way to provide access to fans.

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You know, all you have to do is look at what's going on with Warner Bros Discovery and the whole drama with the NBA and what's going to happen or they going to lose the rights, you know, stuff like that.

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There's a reason we rotate the Super Bowl, right?

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You have some NFL games on Fox, some NFL games on CBS CBS and some NFL games on NBC.

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But there's a system, right?

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We know what games are going to be where and we know that certain days of the week Monday night footballs on this channel, you know, your late games are on this channel, your early, there's a system.

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I don't know what that needs to be for tennis because I don't have enough information to know, but we can't seem to get our ducks in a row and have some kind of a system so that we can start developing a little bit of that.

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Almost that muscle memory.

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Oh, it's Monday. So I got a turn on this TV channel if I want to watch tennis. Oh, it's it's okay. Okay. World Series is going to be on this channel. That kind of a thing.

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I guess is what I'm getting it. That makes any sense.

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Yeah, maybe that's easier because it's just national, right? With it with an international sport like tennis, you just not going to figure out what channel the Kazakhstan tournament is going to be on.

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Right. Right. And that's part of the problem. And then, you know, sometimes it's on prime now and it's just like, okay, I just where is all the things.

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And that doesn't even have to happen with every single tournament, but I mean, right now, even with Roland Garros, if you want to watch that, you've got to have tennis channel tennis channel to N ESPN.

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Which I do.

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And no, not ESPN. That's later for Wimbledon. Right. And then it's going to be on NBC this weekend. So if you've been watching tennis channel all week, then you got to know that they're going to go.

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Okay, they're going to go to NBC this weekend and then they're going to. Okay. And then ESPN has Wimbledon and then it's going to go to ABC for the.

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Yeah. I don't know where I am. When the network's taken over for the weekends, it drives me now. So we're going to cover it from 12 to 3. I'm like, that is not enough.

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And you're only going to show me the one match that I've already seen. Like now.

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So I'm with you on that.

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So that gets to be a little confusing. Yeah, I'm with you. All right. And then the other one about merging the tours.

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I get two questions on that. Do you have an example of another professional sport that would merge men's and women's businesses like that for anything other than one makes money more money than the other.

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Like is there a other than the idea? And this is someone I watch men's tennis. I don't really watch women's tennis. That's just my thing. I prefer one over the other.

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But in that case, if you package it together, there's a benefit for one. Is it almost detrimental to the other? What?

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And that's and that's what I would what I'm kind of hearing up here. More conversations about if that does happen. How would those rights be distributed? How would those facilities be distributed?

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You know, we wanted to have a women's event in Winston's Alam and that is still something that we'd really like to do. But you have to go through a lot of hoops, right? Okay. So you have to have men's locker rooms and women's locker rooms and these practice courts and that practice courts.

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We have the court space, for example, we have plenty of courts where we could run an event concurrently. The question is how many events around the world would be able to host those joint events, right? You're probably still looking at the master series.

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I would just think in general, you know, I would push back on you and say, well, why is it that you only watch men's tennis?

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Me personal. You're not having you're not having. I mean, because women's tennis, some people you can make an argument that women's tennis is everybody is as exciting.

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People are saying the match between Osaka and you know, Shvian Tech was one of the matches of the year. Of course, last year we had Joker and Alcaraz. Was that Cincinnati?

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Where that was just an instant classic. So I think there's a lot to be discussed in terms of the logistics of how it would merge.

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But again, for tennis as a whole, when we go compete in tournaments, we don't have the men's state championship in Georgia over here and the women's state championship.

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And we go compete together, right? And then we can play, you know, we have all of our age groups or all of our NTRP levels, you know, and then we have combo at certain times and we have, you know, regular adult leagues and mixed as tennis as a whole, it is always better to present a unified front.

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Now the logistics of how we divide out money and broadcasting again, I would not presume to have an answer because I don't have the ins and outs. I would just like for there to be a little bit more transparency on why things are the way that they are so that we can continue to make this more accessible for more people.

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And we'll see if we can get the powers that be on the phone. Yes, let me know. That's on you.

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Okay, all right, Bobby, we got we got some work to do.

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I'm with I agree, but I think what comes before too? We got to get a government body that sets an agenda. I'm going to call Kat has a stand now.

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They don't have a tournament anymore. I mean, it's ridiculous. We're at all parts of the world. It starts with a lead. You know, we're almost make it golf. Here's your top hundred players. This is going to compete on tour this year.

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Next year, we'll get 16 new guys. And this way, we know what we got every week. Make the season smaller. These guys will everybody will live longer, play harder because they're not going to worry about a full year tournament.

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There's a lot of things we can do to get to that place and then deal with the money. So I think one comes before too, but it's time to go.

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Saudis, are you listening?

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Oh my goodness.

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Oh, man, can worms everywhere.

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Oh, over that one next time. But ladies, ladies, I appreciate it. Robin, thank you so much. Becky, you're over there on my screen. Becky, thank you so much.

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Bobby is always and we will follow up because we're looking forward to our trips to the Atlanta open and to the Winston Salem open. We're going to share it with all of our, all of our audience and try to help you with what you're doing, which is bringing tennis into the community.

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At a more grassroots level. That's one of the things we love to do as well. So I want to thank you guys because we cannot have professional tennis without grassroots fans.

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So I just want to go on record is saying for all the flaws that we see it maybe with USDA for all of the things we would love to change.

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We do have grassroots tennis and it isn't perfect, but it is so important to keep this accessible and keep this going because it is something you can do for a lifetime.

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And we really appreciate the support of guys like you and organizations like USDA and all to for sure.

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We do what we can, but thank you so much. Well, there you have it. We want to thank reGeovinate.com for use of the studio and be sure to hit that follow button for more tennis related content.

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You can go to Atlanta tennispodcast.com. And while you're there, check out our calendar of tennis events. The best deals on Technifiber products, tennis apparel and more.

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If you're a coach, director of any racket sports or just someone who wants to utilize our online shop, contact us about setting up your own shop collection to offer your branded merchandise to the Atlanta tennis world.

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And with that, we're out. See you next time.

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