Being charged with putting on the biggest tournament of the season is no small thing, and, in the case of the 2011 Chicago Nationals it was an outright miracle of organization and coordination.
John Noble, Matt Garavaglia and Shannon Vinson, coordinators of the event, had to arrange for 84 courts of play at 22 sites all within a 25-minute radius of Chicago’s North Shore Corridor for 452 competitors.
The trio had to coordinate everything from ensuring the bleachers were delivered and installed on time, to putting together the program and merchandising for the event. Thankfully, there were 175 volunteers who were organized by Walter and Ann Fyk.
“They are a wonderful couple and they organized it by day, by club, by time slot. They ran with it,” Vinson said. “We needed many volunteers to execute the weekend. The level of excitement for the event to return to Chicago was high and many were eager to help. They wanted to help out more, which was really nice!’
While at the time of writing, the organizers of the Chicago Nationals have not had an opportunity to perform a full event post-mortem, their overall impression of the event was overwhelmingly positive.
“It went very well,” Noble said. “The only thing difficult is planning for the number of attendees, not players but actual spectators. On Saturday night we had so many attending that we had to use satellite parking and shuttle buses. We had more of an audience than we’ve had in the past. There was a lot of enthusiasm and attention surrounding the event, so handling the volume of spectators was our biggest limitation. But it still went well:’
Vinson said that while she’s run other events, she’s done nothing the size of the Nationals.
“Overall, I thought it was a wonderful weekend. The participants had a great time. The spectators had _a great time. There were a couple hiccups, but they were mostly things behind the scenes and nobody noticed,”she said. “No matter how much planning you do, the last 72 hours are the most important. Everything has to come together at the right time for it to work. That, to me, was our biggest team effort. Checking off what we needed to do so that we could be ready to welcome people Wednesday night.”
Vinson said the hosting venue, the Glen View Club, did everything the committe members asked to help ensure the event went off without a hitch. “They were outstanding,” she said. “Their management was so easy to work with. Anything within reason, they’d help us accommodate it.”
“We shared responsibilities and tackled the event,” Noble said. “Together we had the right people heading the right committees; all working together to execute the event.”
With a full Men’s draw of 128 teams, and a draw of 98 Women’s teams, Vinson said she had the opportunity to be both an organizer and a player.
I “I was a member of the President’s Cup team from Region Five and the main draw. Saturday and Sunday I watched a lot of amazing paddle,” Vinson said. “I had the best of all worlds. The game is changing. It’s very aggressive. The men’s final was the most unbelievable thing I’ve seen. The gets, the speed of the players, and the longevity of the points are all amazing:’ she said. “All in all, it was unbelievable paddle.”
The trio will be organizing the Mixed Nationals in the near future, and seems to be quickly becoming the go-to group for large-scale tournament events. “We’ve received an outpouring of support and gratitude from the players and those who came to watch,” Vinson said.
Source: Platform Tennis Magazine, Vol. 12, Issue 5, April, 2011