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Copyright 2014 Charleston Newspapers
Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia)
Chuck McGill

It is late Monday night and first-year Public Courts tennis tournament director Dana Eddy is the last to leave the Charleston YMCA after a lengthy meeting to determine player seeding.

He tosses a giant binder of tournament information onto the front passenger seat of his car and hollers at me across the vacant parking lot.

"You want to know what a tournament director does? Eddy asks as he pulls the handle door to the backseat of his car.

He holds up a package of Angel Soft toilet tissue.

"We ran out last year - a tournament director has to be prepared for everything.

Sure enough, Eddy has become a believer of that in advance of the 55th annual Public Courts event, which begins this Friday in Charleston. Eddy, 54, is the executive director of the West Virginia Public Defender Services. He's been piggybacking those duties with his introduction to the ins and outs of running one of the largest tennis tournaments this side of the Mississippi River.

"Originally I thought I'd just run the (tournament) site," Eddy said after Monday's meticulous meeting where each and every one of the 592 entries were discussed. "Now I see what it takes to get down there on the first day and hand out balls. You've got the sponsors to worry about, you've got the drinks to acquire, you've got the banners to hang, you've got to get the entries into the newspaper, you've got to get people registered and signed up.

"It's been an eye-opener."

Eddy takes the title of tournament director away from the husband-wife team of Rory and Kim Isaac, who were the caretakers last year.

Eddy has been involved with United States Tennis Association (USTA) leagues for the last 20 years, including the last 10 as an area league coordinator.

"There are many people that could do it, but because it's the Public Courts, we wanted to have somebody who is not affiliated with any club or has a stake in his own or her own tournament or his own or her own membership," Eddy said. "As the USTA league coordinator, I've been involved with all the clubs and all the people, so I was sort of the common denominator for all those people.

"It seemed easiest for me to step in and coordinate with all the clubs."

He's also a passionate advocate for what Public Courts represents. Barring the occasional conflict, he's played every year since he moved to Charleston in 1987.

"One of the reasons I wanted to do this and one of the reasons I'm willing to do this is Public Courts has been my pinnacle each year for the last 20 years," he said.

"I believe in Public Courts; I do believe it's the crown jewel of tennis in this area."

"Because I've been in it for so long and been around it for so long, for me to step into the director position is a privilege."

It is also a daunting task. Eddy is leaning heavily on Kim Isaacs, who volunteered her time to help Eddy prepare for the event this week. The scheduling process, in particular, raised Eddy's eyebrows, and he has plenty of experience scheduling adult leagues.

The eight-day Public Courts event has 368 players. Nearly a third of those players will list what the tournament calls "avoidances, blocks of time in which a singles player or a component of a doubles team cannot play.

This complicates the schedule of the tournament, which is played weekday evenings and all day this coming weekend.

Eddy and Isaac teamed up Tuesday afternoon to hash out the first portion of the schedule.

"Kim did not have to come back and do this," Eddy said of Isaac, who traveled back to Charleston from her Houston home to help out.

"I did not have to ask her, either. She volunteered, came back and has been a true lifesaver.

"She is right when she says it takes a village. There is no way one person can do all this. I never knew how big of an undertaking this was. Never knew."

Eddy knows now. He admitted that he probably should've taken two weeks of vacation - a week before the tournament and a week during - to handle the minutiae of being a tournament director.

Still, it's not a bad way to spend an off week.

"This is my first vacation of the year," Eddy said.

"This is how I'm spending my vacation ... swimming amongst the tennis sharks."


July 9, 2014




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