Citi Open Spotlight with Carlos Silva

August 03, 2021

The Citi Open has been a staple in the Washington D.C. area since 1969. For decades, fans have made their way to the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center to watch elite athletes, like Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Arthur Ashe, and more, take the courts in hopes of a championship. 


The Citi Open is known for leaving a lasting impact on fans, tennis lovers, and the Mid-Atlantic tennis community as a whole. When you walk onto the grounds at Rock Creek Tennis Center, a public facility located on National Park Service land, for the Citi Open you have the opportunity to interact with players, watch practice sessions on the courts and experience the high-quality food and attractions all around. 


For some, the Citi Open is not just a one-week excursion. The commitment to serving up a fantastic event is a year-long production. The person ensuring a successful event is the  Tournament Director. They are responsible for organizing and overseeing the logistics, they engage in a number of activities to promote and market the event, all while maintaining the ins and outs on the grounds.


For the 2021 Citi Open, this year’s Tournament Director is Mid-Atlantic’s own Carlos Silva. 


Silva has a deep history with tennis in the Mid-Atlantic. He grew up playing in junior tennis tournaments across the Section.

Photo Credit: TennisAtlantic.com

Later, he went on to play tennis at Boston College becoming the number two singles player and part of the school’s top doubles team. After his decorated career in sports and entertainment media, Silva has found himself back at his home tournament, leading the way for spectators and players alike as the Tournament Director. 


USTA Mid-Atlantic had the chance to speak with Carlos Silva at the Citi Open to learn more about his love for tennis in the Mid-Atlantic and what Citi Open means to him. 


USTA Mid-Atlantic: You grew up playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Reflecting on your journey as a player to now being the Tournament Director of the Citi Open, what is the significance of this moment for you?

Carlos Silva: You know it is strange. I grew up coming and playing here on the clay courts, in the 12s, 14s, 16s, or 18s tournament every summer. I came and watched matches here as a kid when it was the Washington Star International Tournament. My coach was a Columbian who had a clay court in his backyard, so all of the South American players would come and practice there and I would get to watch, and then I got to see them play on the stadium court as well. As a 12-year-old kid, it was pretty awesome to have access like that and be around all these cool guys that were running around the world playing tennis for a living. This place and tournament had a big impression on me for sure. 


And now we are here and it is the same place. So many places around the world upgrade and go to different stadiums and move to a different part of town, but this stadium is still tried and true. I look at all the names inside of there and I was here for so many of those moments when I was just a little kid who wanted to play tennis. So this is pretty special.


What is your best memory of playing tennis in the Mid-Atlantic as a junior competitor?

I don’t know that I have one memory. I remember a lot of the names. It’s funny, I just ran into a buddy of mine that is a part of the stringing crew that is here. I have known him since I was 12 years old. We started laughing when we saw each other, because we played doubles together for 14 and under, and now we are here. I am helping to run the tournament and he is running the stringing crew for everyone. You know, there are matches you’ve won and there are matches you’ve lost, but you mostly remember the names and relationships you created on the court. 


Was there a player/role model you specifically looked up to who helped guide you to where you are today?

I mentioned Gus Castillo, he’s been like a father to me since I was young (with my Dad too, obviously). They both taught me to wake up early, be on time and work hard. Those are three good things that I learned from tennis. [For example] I went to bed at 1 o’clock last night and I was here on site for a 6:45 am interview with Fox. I woke up at four to run and swim before I came down here. And you know, if I hadn't played tennis all those years, maybe I would not have known how to do that.  


What lessons have tennis taught you that you have applied to your career and now as Tournament Director of the Citi Open? 

I think working hard goes a long way. Showing up every day goes a long way. And having great teammates too. I loved playing doubles when I was growing up and I think that’s why I had more success in doubles. I loved having a teammate. So make sure you get good teammates because you will get a lot of stuff done. Make sure to work hard because you win together, and lose together. And hopefully, you’ll have enough success together to make it to the finals on Sunday. 


As Tournament Director, what do you hope the Citi Open can do to inspire local players and those thinking about playing tennis? 

You get to see some cool players while you’re on the grounds, you see fantastic tennis on the practice courts and maybe it sparks that fire inside you and your dream of becoming a player at the Citi Open one day. I think when you have that experience locally, it is more powerful. I mean it is great on TV, but here you get to walk around and see and interact with players. I hope that a 12-year-old kid sees that and thinks “Wow, I want to do that.”  


What is your wish for the future of tennis, especially in the local region and how can the Citi Open help contribute?

There is a great resurgence for the love of tennis. It’s great because I see the public courts around my house and they’re all full of players now, and that wasn’t always the case. People rediscovered tennis, and I think this tournament does that too every summer. We just have to keep that going. It is hard because [the Citi Open] is only for one week, but we want to continue and extend the impact of this tournament throughout the year so we can get more kids playing tennis. 


In three words, how would you describe tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section?

Three words… Hot and sweaty. And I think it is a great community. I still remember a lot of the Moms and Dads, and the people that I grew up playing with. I think the community part of it is important because tennis brought us all together. 


Carlos Silva’s love and commitment to tennis and the Section have had a lasting impact on the Mid-Atlantic tennis community. We thank Carlos for sharing his story with us and for growing the game of tennis in the region.  


USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community and so does the Citi Open tournament. It gives new and existing players a chance to experience world-class tennis in their own backyard. Professional tennis is great to keep up with and watch on TV, but when you get to experience it first hand, up close and personal, at a tournament like the Citi Open, that is something special. 


To experience Citi Open through social media make sure to follow USTA Mid-Atlantic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting tennis and its physical, social, and emotional health benefits. Learn about our impact in the Section and how USTA Mid-Atlantic creates community, character, and well-being

Skip Advertisement


Related Articles

  • Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approve the zoning application for the Village at Clear Springs which includes the state-of-the-art USTA Mid-Atlantic Foundation Tennis Campus. Read More
  • This Women's History Month, join USTA Mid-Atlantic Foundation in honoring exceptional women who use tennis to empower communities and promote well-being. Read More
  • The USTA Mid-Atlantic Foundation is excited to announce a new team-based pilot program aimed at introducing young players from first through sixth grade to the sport of tennis. Read More