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June 19, 2017 Executive Profile

Worcester champions CT with pro tennis tourney

HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns Anne Worcester

In tennis terms, it's advantage Connecticut Open, New Haven and the state with Anne Worcester running the professional women's tennis tournament and also overseeing city marketing.

Worcester is the Connecticut Open tournament director and chief marketing director at Market New Haven Inc., with two-sided business cards reflecting her complementary roles. She serves as a champion ambassador for the tournament and its host city.

“She is a driving force, she's extremely professional and extremely passionate, extremely enthusiastic about what she does … ,” said Tony Rescigno, president of the Greater New Haven Chamber. “She's been just perfect in both jobs. She's a real asset to this community.”

Worcester, 56, is in her 20th year as tournament director and 13th year marketing New Haven.

As someone who marketed and promoted a major sporting event, Worcester was approached 13 years ago to help tout a New Haven renaissance that some area leaders felt wasn't widely enough recognized. She was reluctant because the tournament was successful and a full-time job.

“So I took it on for one year to sort of get it set in the right direction and here we are 13 years later,” Worcester said from the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

This year's tournament is Aug. 18-26. A Premier WTA event in the U.S. Open Series, it typically averages four to five of the top 10 players and more than half of the world's top 50, she said. Already committed are Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 10, and Petra Kvitova, No. 17.

This year also includes PowerShares Series men's legends matches featuring James Blake, Michael Chang, John McEnroe and Mark Philippoussis.

While New Haven-based, the tournament is a worldwide promotion for Connecticut — televised in 160 countries. Sponsors include Hartford-area companies. The biggest, United Technologies Corp., is in its fourth year as presenting sponsor and final year of its second two-year contract at $1 million annually.

Sponsorships comprise about $3 million of the tournament's $4.3 million budget this year. Ticket revenue is the next largest revenue source, followed by international TV revenues, concessions and retail.

The event drew about 52,000 fans last year and has more than a $10 million economic impact on the region and about $700,000 in TV media value for the state, just from its on-court signage, she said.

Worcester is always selling the event, which is owned by the state, and maintains year-round contact with players and agents — a job eased by social media.

“Recruiting is a 365-day-a-year job,” Worcester said of constant birthday, holiday and other wishes, congratulations for victories and consolations for losses.

She tries to visit players each March at the Miami Open when they're setting summer schedules, and each July in London at Wimbledon, where she does last-minute recruiting.

“My pitch is very simple: The Connecticut Open is a great way to prepare for the U.S. Open (Aug. 28-Sept. 10 this year) because it's the same surface, the same climate, the same time zone, the same ball, the same big-stadium look and feel,” Worcester said.

The tournament offers players red-carpet treatment, including free meals at New Haven's many fine restaurants, gifts and a ride to their U.S. Open hotel afterward.

She visits the U.S. Open to watch matches, show support and review players' New Haven experience.

Worcester is married to Tom Worcester, global head of sponsorship and endorsement for music at Creative Artists Agency in New York. They have two college-age children.

Whenever Worcester calls game, set, match on her career, she hopes the tournament is so financially viable that it can be more generous to important community causes than it is today. The Travelers Championship golf tournament is her role model.

“It's not about a tennis tournament, it's what we do with the tennis tournament and that's why I'm here 20 years later. … That's what's most fulfilling to me,” she said.


Executive Profile: Anne Worcester

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