Ann Sheedy’s Nationals Diary – reflections on running a Nationals

Ann Sheedy, the Executive Director of the APTA, was deeply involved in running the Nationals which were held in her home town, Pittsburgh.

She filed a report with PTM on the activities leading up to the event and some thoughts on when all was said and done.

Preparation (March 2013)

The 2014 APTA Nationals are only a year away! We have our Executive Committee and
we have asked the clubs for the use of their courts. We’ve made a list of potential sponsors and we have a sponsorship brochure. Looks like we are on our way.

Piece by piece we’ve added to our committee. We found a volunteer to be in charge of but food, then someone to recruit but monitors, then a housing chair and a hotel coordinator. We already had a draw guru on the Executive Committee so we are set there. We need a parking and shuttle committee head as well as someone to be in charge of selling merchandise. Prizes must be selected and purchased, the President’s Cup has to be coordinated, and photographers need to be found. Lunches and dinners need to be planned and budgeted. Live Scoring and Live Streaming, not part of the two previous Pittsburgh Nationals, have to be staffed and we must find someone to be in charge of the player’s gift bag. A program needs to be designed and printed. Facility information needs to be gathered and volunteer manuals have to be written.

So many decisions! What clubs to use, what favors to buy are the first we tackle. Then the questions pour in. •How many banners does a Gold Level sponsor get? Tent or no tent? Who gets to park where? Where is lunch and how many people will be at each location? How do we move the favors and gift bags between clubs for registration Wednesday and Thursday night? How many XXL jackets should we order? (This is always tricky because you have to order the clothing before all the registrations are in.) How many hours should the shuttle run? Will we sell merchandise and, if so, how much should we order? How many balls do we need and how do they get divided? Do we give lanyards or those rubber bracelets to the players so they can get into meals? How big should the bleachers be? Etc., etc …

Funding is always the scariest part. It’s somewhat scary to make commitments in December to spend money if it’s unclear if we will have the money in March. We’ve taken the strategy to start with a tight budget and expand it as (we hope) money comes in.

Pittsburgh does not have the luxury of an overabundance of courts so we know that getting temporary courts is crucial. Thanks to the APTA and Total Platform Tennis, we’ve gotten the three temporary courts we need.

It’s almost here! March 2014

Under the heading of “Of course we didn’t panic (much) … ” A huge snowfall is expected right after the temporary courts are painted. The paint needs time and the proper temperature to cure and snow is not part of that formula.

Thanks to a Fox Chapel Racquet Club employee, who got up in the middle of the night to change the propane tanks under the temporary courts, and a bit of help from the weather gods because we didn’t get the six to eight inches of snow forecasted, the courts are ready on time.

Lots of little details to finish: parking passes need to be distributed, programs and draw sheets printed and delivered to registration. Signs at club entrances are to be printed and put in place. We have changed our minds several times about the location and set up of registration and merchandise but I think we nailed it.

Rats, turns out that there is a charity run at North Park that might disrupt players’ ability to get to the courts. Hope we don’t have to cancel the use of those courts; their volunteers are so eager to host some National matches. Good, no problem, next issue …. Okay, someone needs to pick up the microphones.

Wednesday night – President’s Cup Registration (March 5, 2014)

The Fox Chapel Racquet Club looks wonderful with the fireplace blazing and the lights twinkling, creating a festive atmosphere. Food is tasty and registration is going well.

Reflection (April 2013)

It is hard to believe that after all those months of work it is over. Players have given us their thanks and praise. I guess besides the amazing level of talent I witnessed, I will remember the people who helped us pull this off. Martin Sturgess was a knowledgeable, decisive, and calm Tournament Director. I know the hours he spent pushing and pulling the budget to be sure we could make it work. We can’t thank the staff of the Fox Chapel Racquet Club enough for the unbelievable hours they put in to make the tournament a success.

To say we had great volunteers is to underestimate their contribution. Just a few examples, our Hut Food Chair got more than 80 ladies to make baked goods for the huts. Our draw guru spent hours refining the times and locations to optimize our court situation and use of Live Streaming and then handled the tournament desk with her usual aplomb. Registration ran as smoothly as any I have seen, thanks to a well planned and executed process. We heard nothing but compliments about the food and the venues. The ladies running the merchandise area spent so much time at their posts I thought the club was going to charge them rent. I heard that our hut monitors were friendly and helpful. Even by mentioning a few examples I fear that I am shortchanging the others who contributed so greatly. I could continue to thank the Prize Chair, the Players’ Gift Bag Chair, the Facilities Chair, the Housing & Hotel Chairs, the Sign Chair.

It’s hard to stop. Yes, there were some glitches and, yes, there were a few things I might do differently, but all in all I think we did a pretty darn good job and I am so proud of the hundreds of Pittsburgh paddle players who stepped up and were part of the PNC 2014 APTA Pittsburgh Nationals.

Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 15, Issue 5 April/May 2014