If you’ve ever been sent to a far-flung court, it was probably to play a match in the consolation bracket of a USTA tournament at your local park. For me, however, that court assignment—specifically, to Court 17—was the highlight of my career.
I had been working in various segments of the tennis media for nearly a decade, writing and producing news videos in relative obscurity. Two years ago, that all changed when I took to the U.S. Open’s fourth-largest court as an emcee. In front of 2,500 fans and a worldwide viewing audience, I was tasked to warm up the crowd and conduct live post-match interviews with players—all without any prior experience. I would be learning this job on the fly at one of tennis’ showcase events.
No pressure, I told myself.
It was a bit uncomfortable at first. Nestled in the southeast corner of the grounds, Court 17 has no designated indoor area to take refuge on hot summer days. There is no court producer to direct start times or coordinate TV cameras. In fact, the emcee of Court 17 also serves as its DJ. With my lengthy job description, I left my courtside seat solely for bathroom breaks.
But I didn’t mind being glued to my post—even though, like the players I talked to after a grueling match, I smelled like a mixture of sweat and sunscreen. I found that it was easy to settle into a groove, and I loved the unique access. Some of the best advice came from longtime tennis emcee Andrew Krasny, who told me to make fans feel at home, like they had just entered the best tennis venue in the world.