What it takes to put on the WTA Finals
Published: 30 Sep 2015
Later this month the eyes of the world will be on Singapore for the WTA Finals, where fans will be able to witness the very best of women’s tennis in an epic battle for the coveted year-end WTA crown, with every match like a Grand Slam final. But what does it take to put on an event of this scale? We spoke with Tournament Director Melissa Pine who gives insight on how she balances the role with her wider responsibilities as the WTA Vice President for the Asia-Pacific region:
As the Tournament Director for the WTA Finals and Vice President for Asia-Pacific, no two days are ever the same. Whether it’s working with our partners World Sport Group, Sport Singapore, and Singapore Tourism Board strategizing for the WTA Finals, or executing grassroots activities in Singapore through the WTA Future Stars initiative, every day brings a new set of challenges and I take inspiration from the Women’s Tennis Association’s founder, Billie Jean King, who said “pressure is a privilege.” One day I could be in China working with my team in Beijing, the next day in India conducting a WTA Future Stars Clinic with Sania Mirza and Martina Navratilova, and then back to Singapore for meetings, all in the run of a week.
My role as Tournament Director is to oversee the planning and execution of all WTA Finals matters involving the presentation of the tournament from a player, fan, television, media and VIP guest perspective. In addition to the planning and delivery of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, it is my responsibility to grow and develop the sport of tennis and the WTA across the Asia-Pacific region. We see huge potential to further grow tennis in Asia and we are working at all levels of the game to bring more events and opportunities to the region. Hosting the WTA Finals in Singapore for the next five years, an expansion from the traditional three year term, is in line with this strategy. Opening an office in-market, allows us to grow the sport while working with our partners in real time, and is conducive to building a legacy here in Singapore for future generations.
I arrived here two years ago to head the Singapore office and everyday there is something new to learn. With offices across different time-zones, my days vary in length. My alarm chimes very early in order to complete my daily workout before getting to the office in the morning. A healthy body equals a healthy mind, they go hand-in-hand, and so this early part of the morning provides me those precious moments for myself before the busy day gets underway. Coffee in the morning is also a ritual! This becomes even more of a necessity as we get closer to the WTA Finals! WTA is a global organization with offices in Florida, London, Beijing and Singapore, so we are “always on” and there are the regular calls to the London, Florida, and Beijing teams, as well as meetings with our key partners and sponsors to execute plans that were set in place at the start of the year.
The WTA vision is to be the most exciting and inspirational sport-entertainment experience on earth; inspiring individuals and creating a legacy in our sport. Our partners share this vision and they help us deliver a host of off-court events and activities for our fans in the lead up to, and during the tournament. Our 10-day sport-entertainment spectacle has something for everyone.
My team in Singapore is critical to everything we accomplish, and I am grateful for such a dedicated squad. We are a lean team of 6 in Singapore, and everyone works tirelessly throughout the year liaising with the various parties involved. It is my duty to ensure we are continually raising the bar and on track to deliver a show-stopping WTA Finals.
Singapore is renowned across the world for its amazing food and we are lucky that there is a fantastic selection available near our office at the Singapore Sports Hub. Like any former athlete and coach, I strive to maintain a healthy diet and foods that help sustain long days. Green vegetables are my superfood, and my favourites are cucumber, capsicum, and snow peas, along with my Singaporean favourites kang kong and kailan. One of my favourite local foods is Popiah; a delightful thin wrap of vegetables, egg and sauces. On the other hand, my guilty pleasures are bubble tea, kaya butter toast, and peanut butter waffles. To a foodie like me, Singapore is a treat to the taste buds!
In addition to the delectable food, the weather in Singapore is endearing to me. Growing up in Canada I don’t take one day of warm sunshine for granted! I am thankful to call Singapore my home. It is such a safe, clean, and progressive city, and with a sporting industry on an upward trajectory, the momentum is exciting and the future is bright in Singapore. With excellent partners and world-class facilities, the WTA could not ask for a better host city for the WTA Finals.
I feel fortunate to be working in an industry that I am personally passionate about. Tennis is a sport that has provided me so many opportunities in life that I would not have otherwise had, so I feel a personal responsibility to give back to the sport that has given me so much. I truly believe that if you love what you do, and have a passion for your work, success will follow and achievements will naturally come your way.
About the WTA:
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing 92 nations competing for a record $129 million in prize money at the WTA’s 55 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 5.4 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2014 with millions more watching on television and digital channels around the world. The 2015 WTA competitive season concludes with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore, presented by SC Global, from October 23-November 1, 2015 and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China, from November 2-8, 2015. Further information on the WTA can be found at: www.wtatennis.com; facebook.com/WTA and twitter.com/WTA.
About BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global:
The WTA Finals began in 1972 and the 2015 edition will be the 45th staging of the event and the second consecutive year that the tournament will be hosted in Singapore. Nine different cities have hosted the WTA Finals and Singapore is the first city in Asia-Pacific that will host the event until 2018. There have been 18 winners over the years, 15 of these have been former World No.1s and 10 different nations have won the title. The WTA Finals will see the top-eight Singles and Doubles players compete in a Round Robin format for USD$7 million prize purse. In addition to the Singles and Doubles tournaments, there will also be a WTA Legends Classic showcase, WTA Rising Stars matches and WTA Future Stars tournament.