Kantarian instrumental in leading tennis to mainstream culture
Arlen Kantarian, unquestionably one the most relentless tennis visionaries of recent times, announced Thursday he will step down as the USTA's CEO at year's end. But what does this mean for the sport, notably the U.S. Open, moving forward?
Sports governing bodies in the so-called Olympic world are weird, hybrid organizations, and on paper, the sprawling U.S. Tennis Association is one of the oddest. Charged with running everything from the humblest of grassroots programs to the most prestigious professional tournaments, the USTA at times seems like a giant chameleon that is trying to be many things to many people, with no distinct identity.Arlen Kantarian, who announced Thursday he will step down as the USTA's CEO of professional tennis at year's end, was an exception to that. For much of the past nine years, he has been the most public face of the organization -- a face that usually was creased with the shark's grin of someone who was sure he knew the right way to cut through calm or choppy waters and was aggressively ready to convince you of the same.
What they're saying
"Getting to know Arlen over the last few years has been an excellent experience for me. It has also taught me something about how to lead and how to expand and improve a business. The U.S. Open Series has been one of the most exciting innovations in tennis in the last 10 years and I'm glad to have been a part of that brainchild of Arlen's. He was an ardent supporter of the Davis Cup and our team specifically. His enthusiasm was apparent every day in the stands as he stood and cheered. We will miss him as a part of the USTA, and I wish him all the best in everything he does in the future. I am completely confident that he will be successful in whatever endeavor he undertakes."-- No. 11 James Blake "His unique talents have made the U.S. Open the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and the Olympus U.S. Open Series one of the most exciting breakthroughs for the sport. More importantly, Arlen has helped spark a resurgence in the growth and popularity of professional tennis and has provided the momentum to continue our growth in future years.'' -- USTA president Jane Brown Grimes "Arlen Kantarian has been at the center of the growth of professional tennis in the United States for the past nine years. His legacy will be that of an innovator who was not afraid to challenge the establishment, and whose vision gave birth to the highly successful U.S. Open Series and took the U.S. Open to unprecedented levels of growth. Arlen and I worked together on a broad range of initiatives to grow the sport, from the U.S. Open Series to Tennis Integrity and beyond, and through these many dealings, I developed great respect for Arlen." -- WTA chairman and CEO Larry Scott
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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