CONNECTICUT OPEN RANKS THIRD BEST ATTENDED WTA-ONLY TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD
Attendance tops 50,000 for fourth straight year;
Commitment to community giving reaps rewards with record-setting year of fundraising
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Sept. 19, 2018) – A maiden WTA title winner in Aryna Sabalenka, four of the top 10 players in the world, a spectacular launch at Yale’s Sterling Library and a week-long festival of events and charity initiatives combined to help the 2018 Connecticut Open become the third-best attended WTA-only event in the world this year.
One of the strongest player fields in recent history, plus an Invesco Series QQQ Men’s Legends event featuring John McEnroe and won by Connecticut’s own James Blake and the return to New Haven of former World No.1 and Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, added up to attendance topping 50,000 for the fourth consecutive year.
“This summer’s tournament created a buzz that we haven’t felt around the site in a number of years,” said Tournament Director Anne Worcester. “We witnessed the birth of a new star for women’s tennis in Sabalenka and we were treated to matches worthy of the latter stages of a Grand Slam right from our first round. We expanded the off-court festival experience, this year with the help of new and returning sponsors staging more fan-friendly activities such as the Avangrid Power Zone which included selfies with players, the Yale Street Fair and our inaugural Beer Fest at the Connecticut Open on finals Saturday.”
While the tournament demonstrated growth with the addition of new sponsors, most notably in Avangrid and Hearst CT Media Group, Worcester confirmed it had once again fulfilled its non-profit mission by giving back to the communities it serves. “Many of our fans, sponsors and partners share our vision and commitment to benefitting the local community,” Worcester added. “We our delighted to confirm that we set several records this year in terms of our fundraising efforts.
Coming off a successful 2018 event, and in order to build on more than two decades of success, the tournament will spend the next few months evaluating options on how to build for the future, delivering the best value to the community, fans and sponsors, with future developments including a potential summer date change.
ATTENDANCE: Total attendance at the Connecticut Open this year hit 50,255, marking the fourth consecutive year the tournament has attracted more than 50,000 fans. This total confirms the event as the third best attended of 41 women’s-only tennis tournaments on the WTA calendar.
SPONSORSHIP: The 2018 tournament benefitted from the addition of several new sponsors including cornerstone sponsors Official Energy Partner Avangrid and Hearst CT Media Group’s Connecticut Magazine as Official Media Partner. Sofibella joined as a new Platinum sponsor and Official Active wear partner, outfitting the ball kids and officiating teams. New Gold sponsors included PepsiCo, the official soft drink, water, isotonic and tea beverages provider, and Cheeses of Europe, the official cheese of the tournament (and the summer-long US Open Series). Gold Sponsor SportMaster transformed the Aetna FitZone and added Pickleball by Paddletek. Connecticut-based companies continued to support the tournament as 50 per cent of the more than 75 sponsors are Connecticut-based.
FUNDRAISING: The mission of the Connecticut Open is to leverage the excitement of world-class women’s professional tennis to benefit the community and maximize support for women’s, youth, military and other causes in Connecticut. This year, the tournament has:
· Raised over $17,000 and counting for the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven for breast cancer research. In addition to sponsors, Tennis Foundation of CT Board members, fans and donations, this year’s inaugural Beer Fest at the Connecticut Open donated a portion of ticket proceeds to Smilow, while new Silver sponsor Stewart’s All-American Restaurants donated 50 per cent of every dollar raised from selling their famous Root Beer Floats. Lastly, to celebrate its 43rd anniversary, for the next 43 days through October 30, Claire’s Corner Copia joins in to help fundraise by donating all proceeds from every small, organic and fair-trade coffee sold. The tournament has raised more than $150,000 since 2011.
· Raised $8,152, plus 25 pounds of food for ShopRite Partners in Caring Food Drive supporting the Connecticut Food Bank, enough to provide 16,325 meals to those in need statewide.
· Partnered with Yale University to host the annual Salovey-Swensen Extravaganza fundraiser which this year set a new record to raise more than $1.6 million for Yale’s community-based activities ($19 million since 1997).
· The Connecticut Open’s 50/50 Program had its most successful year in 2018. The program raised 20 per cent more funds for local non-profits than last year’s record-setting effort. In all, thousands of dollars were raised by 13 non-profits, including $1,500 for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico on behalf of 2012 Olympic gold medal winner Monica Puig, who advanced through the qualifying rounds to reach the semifinals at this year’s tournament.
· Donated more than 750 complimentary tickets as a part of Military Appreciation Day presented by WWE to veterans and active members of the military for the final session.
· More than 500 pairs of socks from Bombas were donated to two worthy organizations: Interval House, the largest domestic violence agency in the state of Connecticut and Columbus House, a New Haven non-profit organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness since 1982.
YOUTH OUTREACH: As part of its non-profit mission to support youth causes, the Connecticut Open hosted more than a half dozen tennis clinics - including the 16th Annual Latino Day clinic, the 10th Annual Adaptive Tennis Clinic as part of Autism Awareness Day and USPTA Free Lesson for National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) chapters from Stamford, Norwalk, New Haven and Bridgeport. Tennis Hall of Famers Davenport, Nick Bollettieri and Gigi Fernandez and a host of WTA players and coaches joined local teaching professionals and USTA staff in teaching the youth clinics. NJTL chapters from New Haven, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford and Danbury were also given the opportunity to send one lucky inner-city youth to a "Play with the Pros" experience with Blake and Tommy Haas. Finally, nearly 100 students from New York Junior Tennis & Learning attended a mentoring session with Blake and a day of tennis.
The Connecticut Open launched a new partnership with Make-A-Wish Connecticut including fundraising opportunities. Also, Make-A-Wish youth Eryn Ifill took part in a WTA coin toss with WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss. The WWE also sponsored the Military Outpost and provided American flags on Military Appreciation Day.
The tournament also created a Summer Reading program for grade school children that was promoted through public libraries across the state. Kids who enrolled in the program and read five books over the summer received complimentary tickets to the CT Open.
For more information about the 2018 Connecticut Open, or to view the 2018 wrap-up video, please visit www.ctopen.org.
About Connecticut Open
The Connecticut Open is a WTA tournament held at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale featuring a 30-player singles main draw, a 48-player qualifying draw and a 16-team doubles draw with total prize money of $799,000. The 2018 title was won by Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who collected her maiden WTA trophy in New Haven. Past champions include Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport (2 titles), Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams (4), Justine Henin, Caroline Wozniacki (4) and Petra Kvitova (3). As a not-for-profit 501c3 charitable organization, the Connecticut Open’s mission is to leverage the excitement of world-class women’s tennis to benefit the local community and maximize support for women’s, youth and other causes. The tournament also generates $10 million in regional economic impact. The Connecticut Open is prominently featured domestically through 50 hours on ESPN2 and ESPN3 and is also broadcast internationally by WTA Media in 158 countries. In 2018, the global audience reached nearly 12 million viewers. For more details and tickets, visit www.ctopen.org or call 1-855-464-8366