Inaugural Oklahoma Tennis Foundation Open 2023 An Overwhelming Success
All eyes were on Edmond Center Court as the inaugural Oklahoma Tennis Foundation Open $25K, benefiting the Oklahoma Tennis Foundation crowned its initial champions on September 16th, 2023.
The first iteration of the tournament held true to its mission of providing spectators with a heavy contingent of Oklahoma’s finest current and former collegiate tennis players. Participants included men's and women's tennis program players from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Tulsa.
Bill Towler, Tournament Chair, had this to say: “So far, I have nothing but overwhelmingly positive comments from everyone involved - from fans to players to volunteers. What an amazing event! From the shrimp boil to locking up the doors Saturday evening we hit it out of the park. I cannot begin to thank all of you enough for your hard work, great attitude, and endless enthusiasm!!”
What did the players have to say about the tourney? According to Bill: “We held players meetings before each round. I visited with all the players over the course of the tournament. All of them had nothing but great praise and how much fun they were having. I was so impressed with all our college players as they all participated in both clinics, were nothing but gracious with their time and wonderful attitude.”
Mark Mandlik, Team Captain of the winning team of Julia Garcia-Ruiz, Romana Cisovska, Alex Martinez, and Mandlik said: “As team captain, I could not be happier about our win! This tournament was a rollercoaster of excitement, from tough matches to heartwarming moments at the Adaptive and Kids Clinic. It was not just about the victory, but also the shared passion for tennis and the opportunity to share that with younger athletes and the sense of togetherness we all felt. I want to extend a thank you to Bill Towler and everyone involved in making this event so special!”
The runner-up team was captained by Samantha Crawford and included Tyler Zink, Alex Garcia, Anastasiya Komar.
Tournament festivities kicked off with a complimentary Shrimp Boil for all in attendance and attracted close to 150 people. The evening was made possible by the generous sponsorship of David and Teri Ogle. Highlighting the evening was bidding on the teams in a Calcutta format and the raffles.
Thanks to the generosity of Coleman Clark, President of BC Clark Jewelers, we were able to raffle off not one but two $7,500 diamond bracelets fetching $12,800. Also popular was the raffle item provided by The Skirvin Hotel, two weekend stays in the Presidential Suite with several amenities thrown in for good measure.
The best story of the event was Rob Braver’s $500 winning bid on Team Mandlik. No one seemed to think they had a chance as Rob’s bid secured the team for him. They won the tourney, and the winnings were $7,800!
Additionally, $4,000 was raised through raffle tickets where throughout the tourney ticketholders were treated to raffle items from Head Tennis, tennis lessons from Whitney Richey and Seth Moore, and more.
At the end of the tournament, the OKTF Open 2023 raised over $100,000 not including several thousand dollars of in-kind contributions.
Social Media played a key role in promoting and keeping fans informed of daily events and match scores. Two Dogs Social provided post creation and follow-up strategy for social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Starting from nothing on August 1st, Instagram impressions exceeded 78,000, Facebook impressions exceeded 22,000, and Twitter impressions exceeded 14,500 over the 30-day period leading up to the tournament.
The addition of Cracked Racquets as our broadcast partner and Alex Gruskin as our onsite announcer was extremely instrumental in getting the word out about our tournament not only at the local level but worldwide. We had reports that people were viewing the tournament live from places like LA and San Francisco, CA, Wash DC, Miami, Lubbock, TX, Tulsa and more.
Former OSU Cowgirl tennis player Martina Zerulo reported that her parents were able to watch her play from Rome, Italy.
What did Alex have to say about the event? Saturday morning while having breakfast with Bill Towler, he said: "Bill, I have broadcast something like 1000 matches for Cracked Rackets and I have never seen anything like Friday night."
Dalton Thieneman, Cracked Racquets founder and CEO said in a note to Bill: “Thank you so much for the kind words and for the opportunity to have our Cracked Racquets team play a small part. Alex cannot stop talking about his time in Edmond and everyone we talked to (players, fans, etc.) enjoyed their experience, which says it all. Kudos to you and your entire team for putting together such a world class event. We know how much effort it takes behind the scenes to make it a reality!”
Click Here for photos.
Please go to https://www.oktfopen.com for more information.