Serving up a winning tournament

Serving up a winning tournament
Alastair Garland, 33, is making his debut as tournament director of the Southern California Open at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, which begins this weekend. Photo by Tony Cagala

At 33, Alastair Garland is making his debut as tournament director 

CARLSBAD — Clad in jeans, a pair of adidas and a polo shirt Alastair Garland appeared the picture of cool. Despite this being his debut as the tournament director for the Southern California Open, which begins this weekend, Garland, 33, said everything is looking “pretty good.”

“Pretty good,” if you also include the return of Martina Hingis to the tennis court after years away from the game. Hingis will be playing doubles with Daniela Hantuchova. It probably helps that Garland represents Hingis, too.

With planning beginning months in advance of the tournament, and with the players having already committed, some of the only items left to do are finishing the grand stands and constructing the pavilion arena.

Though with the players expected to start showing up on Wednesday, Garland has taken to working 12 to 14 hour days.

“There are definitely ups and downs every day,” he said. “But things are moving in the right direction. I think that you can’t anticipate everything, but for the most part we’re working with a very experienced group, a very good group.”

The tournament, the second stop on the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series, has long been a mainstay at the La Costa Resort and Spa.

Garland said the tournament is a fantastic event for the players, not only staying on site, but because there’s a good amount of prize money up for grabs, and there’s also a number of ranking points the players can earn here. “I think it’s one of the favorite events for the players,” he added.

And the city gains a lot of good exposure from the tournament, too, with the influx of revenue it generates and from the TV time it receives.

As a former No. 1-ranked tennis player at Pepperdine University, Garland did consider at one time going pro.

“But tennis is tough and unless you make it into the top 75, it’s really difficult to make a good living for the rest of your life,” he said. “And I was also interested in the academics side of things, the business side of things. And I think unless you’re a hundred percent sure that’s what you want to do, then it’s probably not right for you.”

Still, having been a player, Garland said it helps him to understand what the players needs are.

“This year we do have a very strong player field. We have 11 out of the top 20 players committed,” he said.

In addition to Hingis making her return, last year’s champion Dominika Cibulkova. The tournament will also feature the world’s No. 2 Victoria Azarenka and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska.

After this year’s event, tournament officials will meet with the new owners of the La Costa Resort and Spa, Omni, which purchased the hotel earlier this year.

“We renew the contract with La Costa, sometimes it’s not year on year, it’s for multiple years, if we can continue here at La Costa we will,” Garland said.

The Southern California Open begins July 29 through Aug. 4.

Tickets are available online at southerncaliforniaopen13.com

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