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Worcester leads New Haven Open

8/20/2012

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Anne Worcester sat in the front row of Petra Kvitova’s news conference Monday at the New Haven Open. The Czech tennis player was asked about the WTA’s parity, and an eyebrow went up.

"Parity means like all the same," explained Worcester quietly, and Kvitova went on to answer.

Worcester has been looking out for players as New Haven's tournament director for 15 years, after serving as the head of the WTA in the 1990s. She has seen this tournament shrink and grow, seen it morph from a men's tournament to a women's tournament to a co-ed tournament, and two years ago back to a women's tournament again.

"When we had to make the difficult decision to get rid of the men or the women in order to preserve this tournament -- because the financial model of having a combined event in the week before the U.S. Open did not work," Worcester said, "we had to eliminate the men. Because the top men don't play the week before the U.S. Open and the top women do."

By picking the women, expenses went from $5 million for the tournament to $4 million. Worcester was in a bind last season when the title sponsor, Pilot Pen, didn't renew. Her marketing team was able to weave together the necessary funding with five multiyear sponsors, including Yale and American Express.

Another sponsor, Aetna, hosted a symposium for local female athletes on the 40th anniversary of Title IX on Monday.

The tournament will be at the Yale Bowl, with day and night sessions, concluding with the singles final on at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Worcester might have stayed on at the WTA if not for the decision to start a family. Raising two small children and traveling the world seemed incompatible.

"It's my chosen role to be home for dinner every night," Worcester said. "That's what I wanted after this very high powered career, and being the tournament director for the New Haven Open has allowed me to have the best of both worlds."

Her son is now 17 and works in the tournament operations department, her daughter is 14. Worcester is often asked if she will dive back into tennis once her kids are out of the house.

"I think I probably have one more big thing left in me and I don't know what it is," Worcester said.

Headhunters are no doubt on alert.