The 2015 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, held August 21-29 at the Connecticut Tennis Center, was a smashing success. Nearly 52,000 fans attended the event where they were treated to world-class tennis, had the opportunity to support a variety of charitable causes, and embraced the festival-like atmosphere of the annual Connecticut event.
Best Athletes in Tennis
The tournament attracted some of the best women professional tennis players in the world and was highlighted by an action-packed week of competition. World No. 4 and two-time Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova (CZE) overcame an exceptionally strong field that featured four of the top 10 players in the world, including Caroline Wozniacki, Lucie Safarova and Kristina Pliskova, and rising stars Madison Keys, Genie Bouchard and CoCo Vandeweghe, to capture her second straight singles championship and third tournament title in four years. Julia Goerges (GER) and Lucie Hradecka (CZE) took home the doubles trophy.
The popular Men’s Legends presented by PowerShares Series returned for its second year, bringing together some of the game’s most well-known and talented players for two entertaining exhibition matches. James Blake and Andy Roddick squared off on Thursday evening, followed by fan favorite John McEnroe and Jim Courier the next evening. Fan interaction was palpable during the matches and the players entertained with talent and humor during each evening.
Tournament Serves the Community
As sponsorship and ticket sales saw substantial increase over 2014, the Open reaffirmed its commitment to leveraging the power of world-class women’s tennis to support numerous women’s, youth, military and other charitable causes in the local community. Bank of America’s #TroopThanks campaign encouraged attendees to express their gratitude for the military through a social media post, with the company donating $1 for every message to the Wounded Warrior Project to help veterans transition back to civilian life. American players such as Keys, Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis, Blake, Roddick and Courier showed their appreciation, as did UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma as well as Governor Dannel Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.
Throughout the week, players, fans and local celebrities participated in the Closer to Free Spin Bike Challenge, raising more than $22,000 for breast cancer research at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. McEnroe raised $8,000 by spontaneously auctioning off his game-used racquets and shirt during the Legends match. Top-ranked players such as Wozniacki, Kvitova and Safarova; Legends Roddick, Blake and Courier; and VIP’s such as Auriemma, international recording artist Redfoo of LMFAO fame, and Mayor Harp, Governor Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Wyman all took turns on the bike to contribute to the fundraising effort. The bike was autographed by all of these participants and raffled off to a lucky winner, raising additional funds for Smilow Cancer Hospital.
The fundraising initiatives during the tournament built on The 50/50 Project, a new charitable fundraising campaign launched earlier this summer. The program allows non-profit organizations to sell tickets to the tournament and receive 50 percent of net profits of tickets sold. A wide range of charitable organizations from all over the state of Connecticut took advantage, including the American Red Cross, Hartford Chorale, New Haven Symphony, University of Connecticut Alumni Foundation and many others.
The Emirates Returns clinic hosted by Emirates Airline in conjunction with New HYTEs (New Haven Youth Tennis and Education) engaged inner city youth from a “Tennis in the Neighborhood” summer program in a fun-filled tennis event that included celebrity appearances by World No. 2 Simona Halep, Keys and Redfoo. In addition, the new Emirates Returns Youth Mentoring Program recognized mentor Kyle Catubig for his outstanding work with New HYTEs and kids in the local community, and awarded him a VIP trip to the U.S. Open.
Plenty of Off-Court Action and Growth
This year’s tournament-goers enjoyed an expanded array of off-court events and activities, including visits from local attractions such as the Mystic Aquarium, Discovery Museum and the Beardsley Zoo. More food trucks than ever before provided fans with a host of local food options to choose from, and theme nights such as Military Appreciation Night, UConn Night and Girl Power Night celebrated various groups throughout the tournament.
The Connecticut Open continues to drive more than $10 million in economic impact throughout the New Haven region and the State. With increases across the board in attendance, sponsorship and fan engagement, next year’s tournament (August 19-27, 2016) promises to be better than ever before and build upon the tradition of delivering a top-notch sporting event surrounded by a festival atmosphere to fans.