Quick Q & A with World TeamTennis CEO Carlos Silva
(August 30, 2019) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- Tennis Panorama News had a chance to talk to World TeamTennis CEO Carlos Silva during the US Open.
Tennis Panorama News: Can you talk about your roots in tennis and how you’ve made your way back?
Carlos Silva: “Tennis was kind of everything to me. I played growing up, kind of quit all of my other sports and pursued tennis. Got to play college tennis at Boston College, which was great, kind of at a an iconic time when Doug Flutie was there. So we sort of got that glow that went across all the other sports at Boston College which was kind of cool. After I left Boston College I went to Canada like anyone that maybe wanted to pursue their dreams and play the satellite tour, something called the Molson Tour back then, and had a great time for a summer. Earned a pro paycheck, so at least I can say I earned a pro pay check.
“I never even got on the ATP list because it was just a satellite. I made one main draw, then I lost first round and picked up my pay check. At least I could say that I did. I made it that far. I went and pursued and got a masters degree at George Washington University. And then I started working. I had a lot of great jobs and got the opportunity to work with the US Open, back when I was running AOL Sports. We were a sponsor oof the US Open, sort of during AOL’s heyday between 2002 to 2006 or so, an so I was at the US Open a lot.
“We did a lot of great things at the USTA and the US Open. We streamed the practice courts before anyone was thinking about streaming the practice courts back then in 2003, 2004. So these things were always part of my underpinning of tennis being so important to me and now being in the professional world, I went off and built Olympic Channels, I went and built a fighting league. I did a lot of things in sports and in media and then I got the opportunity to meet the owners and meet Billie Jean (King) and Illana (Kloss) a little bit over the years and got an opportunity to run World TeamTennis, and I just thought it ended up tying it up all together with all the things from watching television networks that were building other sports leagues that now I could do the same and help reinvigorate it and build World TeamTennis again.
“We put that package together, I joined in January and now we’ve gotten through our first season with CBS Sports being a new partner with ESPN + being a new partner. I think we have a lot of great players that play for us for which I’m really proud of.
“From Venus (Williams) to (John) Isner, to the Bryan brothers, (Victoria) Azarenka, Sloane ( Stephens), Madison (Keys), Taylor Fritz, (Frances) Tiafoe, the list just keeps going on and on in terms of who played for us – Feliciano Lopez, Sam Querrey. I forget all the players who played for us. Now we even see them here at the US Open. We hope that they help get prepared to come here by playing on our new blue and grey court that started to get them into the US Open Series – they played a little singles, they played a little doubles, they played a little mixed, and I think it was a great season. Vegas and Orlando I think was critical for our expansion to get to eight teams and I thing we had a great post season in Las Vegas. All the players and the coaches and the fans I think felt a big destination to go have the playoffs in Vegas.
“So, I’m pretty happy with season one, but now a lot of work to get ready for 2020.”
TPN: Do you have a three-year plan for World Team Tennis?
CS: “Year one was about expansion – so we got to 8 teams, It was about new distribution – so we got CBS Sports and ESPN + and others in the rest of the world like Daily Motion and Roku in China. And last was to bring in top name players and I think we did that too.
“Now as we look to 2020, it’s about expanding yet again to 10 teams, it’s about building our brand year-round. We ae likely to add an event in February, probably around an all-star celebrity kind of event, to also help just build the brand and the we’ll have a draft in March and then we’ll get ready for the season and I think in 2020 you’ll se 10 teams,
“In 2021 probably 12 teams and then I think the next will be how we build up the world in World TeamTennis. Maybe Canada and Mexico because logistically a little easier, then probably Europe after that. Then how do look at sports media and technology and how do we continue to add things to help the fan experience and the player experience. Now we did some stuff by miking the players this year. We did some stuff with data and technology, but it was really just a few pilots now before we have a little more time before the 10 months before the next season, we’ll do a little more.”