“ I called Don , and he said , ‘ Absolutely , let ’ s talk about it ,’” Jeff says . “ And in 2011 , they had the first event here . I had also done two other Davis Cups in this market in 2007 and 2008 Don and his team , so we both had that much more credibility in our relationship , and it just made an awful lot of sense . And I knew it would be wellrun and well-organized .”
In the years since , the Winston-Salem Open has become a premier event for tennis . Major players including Andy Murray , Andy Roddick and Greensboro native John Isner have played in the tournament . The event draws thousands of fans to Winston-Salem each summer .
And while Jeff was one of the biggest advocates for the tournament moving to Winston-Salem , he didn ’ t come on board as director until March 2020 , right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic . While the pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for Jeff and his team , he ’ d faced similarly unfathomable obstacles before , particularly following the September 11 terrorist attacks .
“ I think experiences like that and my 24 years of having to be nimble and change and adjust just made me a good candidate for this job ,” he says . “ It wasn ’ t ideal coming into my role at that time , but the way the sponsors came through and helped us sustain ourselves for that year , we still gave back a little to the community and did some things that I feel good about .”
Jeff says the move to a permanent position in Winston- Salem has been good for him personally , as well .
“ I want people to know that I ’ m part of the community ,” he says . “ This is an ideal situation where I can come back in a space that is somewhat familiar , but invest in a community , live in that community and perhaps finish out my career in a community like Winston-Salem . It was a fit .”
For Jeff , being a part of the community extends to the tournament as a whole . He and his team see the event growing in the future , providing a greater impact on the Winston-Salem area .
“ We want to turn a profit , but our goal is not to necessarily go and drop that into a bank account ,” he says . “ Our goal is to give back to the community . I think the future is bright , and I think the event will be here for a while .”
– Jennifer Bringle , editor-in-chief