Saturday, August 05, 2006

Part one of (hopefully ) three; 2005 China trip Masters Cup to Xian

Tennis Masters Cup 2005 site (Qi Zhong Stadium) : Construction to Opening...

External views as of July 1st, 2005

Nearly finished exterior as of Sep. 02

The retractable roof... June 3rd and then Sep. 02, 2005

The interior: Left (as of June 3rd), below (as of Aug. 10th... can u see the bracing for the roof :O ) and far below (Sep. 2nd)

My sis, Nan on the site tour on Aug 10th and then in the chopper for the aerial photo on the 11th

Oct. 26 Artificial surface (decoturf?) is being installed... they laid down the surface but they had to drill the holes for the net

below: Nov. 4 Doubles net up and ready to go...

Left to right:
Leo ...Director of Facilities
Nan...Director of Special events
Lisa... Client/sponsor services
Me... Director of Court Services
Don... Tournament assistant
A day or so before players started arrivin (Federer and Agassi were the first), some of the senior staff relaxing in the tournament director's office

The two big boss men...
Charles (Managing Director) and Michael (Tournament Director of Heineken Open Shanghai)
"testing" out the newly installed surface.

Both ex-pro players remarked, "it played fast..."

Later on that day, Michael is giving a tour to a group of tournament volunteers. The volunteers came from Universities around Shanghai and worked for various departments from transportation to court services to logistical and facilities support

The Shanghai Hilton was the official hotel for the tennis tournament so they needed something big in the foyer.... like a 30 foot bannerThe funny thing that i jus remembered... the HSBC champions golf tournament was happening at the same time and the players for the golf and tennis events were both staying at the Hilton so there was a chance that you could see Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal,Vijay Singh or Andre Agassi or another famous golf or tennis player if you happened to go through the foyer at the right time. So with all the VIP's around, the Hilton had brought out their x-ray detector and they were scanning all bags and using a metal detector and hand wand on everyone as they entered the hotel (more intense security than some airports I've been in). I had just finished a long day at the site setting everything up to be ready for the players to arrive the next day and so my sis and I went to hotel to pick up my bro (director of transportation... in charge of over a hundred brand new identical silver Mercedes...) for a late supper at midnight . As I was working hard doing setup, I was looking rundown and dirty in my ballcap, T-shirt and ragged but comfy Converse athletic shorts and carrying my beat up hiking knapsack; basically, i look like a bum. When I entered the hotel there was a lineup of about 10-15 rich people/coaches/pro players waiting to go through the security. I didn't know any different so I shrugged and went to the back of the line and waited for about 10 seconds. All of a sudden I get a hand on my shoulder... I turn around and there's one of the big Hilton Security guards looking at me and then he reaches out and ...vigorously shakes my hand. I get pulled through the security line and I get ushered through, past all the quizzical, impatient, and pissed off people in the line. I shake hands with a number of the guys and laugh inwardly as I go further through the foyer to our tournament desk away from all the well dressed guests. What everyone else didn't know in the line was that, I had worked at the Hilton for Heineken organizing a fun money casino in a previous year during a Heineken open tennis tournament of Shanghai. There was a time during that event where there was a near riot and I took control of the security and managed the crowd til it calmed down. Ever since the head of security and a lot of his staff have given me the utmost respect and in this instance, I got superior treatment and a laugh at some rich people's expense. Also, I had partied with the GM of the hotel (Voldermar?) in 2004 (see entry waaaaaay below) and so my good deeds came back to repay me later...

Every singles player in the draw had one of these made and I placed them in each of the dressing rooms for the players to take home, play with , break , etc. Unfortunately, many of these were broken during the 2 weeks and I think only 2 of the players got to take an intact one home. This one had the head break off... we did the "gnome" thing and I don't know where the head is right now but WE got some great photos... talk to my bro, Bruce.

So, this was the court services office before everything got crazy. Tha's my buddy, Jean, helping me to organize the towels. All the towels were monogrammed, so they had to be sorted according to the player that would be using them... hence the pieces of paper on the walls.

Sharon, Iggy, and I discussing court bookings for the next day... I don't know what Iggy's title was but he was generally the direct contact with all the players or coaches when it came to organizing who got what court and at what time...

So I didn't even take many of these pics; they're mostly jus a compilation of shots my sis or bro took while the stadium was rushed to completion for the event, starting Nov. 11th last year. I got so many stories to tell, from how the concrete walls were still settling throughout the event (causing major cracking in the plaster of the dressing rooms... some VVip players had to be moved last minute before they noticed the "creeping" damage... could have been a black eye for the organizers) to some of the challenges involved with "breaking in" a new facility (water had never been run in some of the showers... try turning on 40 showers in ten different dressing rooms for an hour and watching then go til all the gook was out of the new piping and my glasses were steamed beyond belief... also, new location of the stadium meant, no taxi's going out to the 'burbs to pick us up after the setup days 2 weeks before the official event... you try hail a cab in rural china at 2am; it's not fun...) and even the physical rigors endured by staff and volunteers working up to 20 hour days to get everything looking shipshape, just in time for the big show (Leo, Alex, Richard Lu, etc, the "sunup to almost sunup again" boys... working relentlessly to get sponsor signage, furniture and site logistics up to running conditions... you guys were amazing). I wanna tell all the stories but I don't ever tell them like I really want to cuz as time passes, the details seem to fade and the hardships don't seem to be as challenging as they were when we were in the middle of overcoming them...

So I'm reminding myself here to tell the story of what happens in the back spaces of a professional tennis tournament in my next few posts and how amazing and inspiring it can be to work with the best of the best...
I've done it now for a number of years (worked with the best... sponsors, athletes, managers, etc.) and it gives me great confidence that I can do anything... now if only I knew what I really want in my life , the rest would be easy....

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