Filling the spot that was left open when Bob Bryant left for Indianapolis and the Indy 500 Festival, longtime Atlantan and tennis supporter Eddie Gonzalez has been named as the new tournament director of the BB&T Atlanta Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event held in July at Atlantic Station.
Gonzalez had previously served as USTA Southern Director of Sales & Marketing from 1990-97. At USTA Southern, he was the first full-time USTA sectional staffer dedicated to sales and marketing in the country.
Gonzalez leaves Athlon Sports, where he was Vice President of Sales/National Accounts for 14 years.
"I really want to help this event," explained Gonzalez in an exclusive interview. "I'm very honored and excited to be asked to lead the team."
With tournaments leaving the United States for Asia and South America, Gonzalez knows he has a lot of work to do, but he's grateful to have partners like BB&T as a title sponsor and Atlantic Station as a venue in place.
"The event is owned by the USTA and USTA Southern, so my job is to make it more financially successful," added Gonzalez. "I would like to make it a "mini U.S. Open" with that type of an atmosphere. I envision it more than just a tennis tournament, but a place to be seen (in Atlanta.)"
It's also good to see that Gonzalez doesn't want to take the "fun factor" out of what he calls a celebration of tennis.
"Everybody needs to have fun- the staff, to the volunteers to fans and players."
Let's talk about the players.
Gonzalez is right when he says he can't control the players, but with a festive atmosphere, the new tournament director said he will have the top American players and also those right on the verge of becoming stars.
Something to shoot for, Gonzalez says with more corporate support, they can go after higher ranked players.
Gonzalez was noncommittal on whether the granting of wildcards to players from Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia will still happen, but he's willing to do what it takes so the tennis fans of Atlanta can proudly call this tournament their own.
The new tournament director has only been in the job for one day, but he said being a tennis fan himself, he knows Atlanta tennis fans are educated and not easily fooled, similar to St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans.
"We want to do what it takes to keep this tournament in Atlanta and at Atlantic Station for years to come."