Volvo Car Open seeking volunteers
In just two months, Daniel Island will be buzzing with thousands of tennis fans from across the country eager to watch their favorite female pros compete at the Volvo Car Open, the largest women’s only tennis tournament in North America.
Having moved to the Volvo Car Stadium in 2001, the Open will celebrate its 45th anniversary in April of this year. The many years of success that the tournament has seen is due in large part to the volunteers, explained Volunteer Coordinator Jo Cooper.
“They are extremely critical,” said Cooper. “The event can’t run without volunteers.”
Currently, the tournament is looking for 350 volunteers to fill various areas, the most vital being transportation, guest services, ushering and the front gate. Regardless of which area one is assigned to, volunteering for the event is always a lot of fun, added Cooper, thanks to fellow volunteers and, most importantly, good tennis.
“In transportation, you might hop in a car and drive Serena Williams to her hotel,” said Cooper. “… I’ve personally driven Martina Navratilova, Venus and Serena… It’s really a way to be involved in something that is larger than yourself…I can’t wait to see my friends that I’ve been seeing every year. Some of them live in Texas and we have people from Ohio and Virginia. They come from all over. Maybe the best part is, you get some great tennis with great seats. There’s not a bad seat in this house.”
As a volunteer, one is required to work a minimum of six shifts, each shift lasting for about four to five hours, but the more hours one works, the more perks they receive, added Cooper. For the base six shifts, all volunteers receive a credential, which gets them onsite for every day session. At eight hours, volunteers not only receive a credential, but also a free ticket for every single day, so a spouse, child or friend can tag along.
“The first year people do it, they typically volunteer for six (shifts) because they think it sounds like a lot, but then the next year, they’re signing up for 10 because you get so many more benefits and you just really want to be there,” said Cooper.
One of the best perks of being a volunteer, however, is the sense of camaraderie that exists among the crew, explained volunteer John Sigler, chairperson for the VCO Transportation Department.
“The coolest thing that is involved with it, all departments but especially our department for sure, I think 80 percent of the people started 18 years ago, when it moved here, and still come back every year,” said Sigler. “We’re such a family and keep in touch. The camaraderie that comes with volunteering and that little family, even if some of them you don’t see for a whole year, is wonderful.”
“I just think we see some really great tennis,” added volunteer Arlene Sutherland, who is co-chair of the ticket office. “Among them are the young kids that are up and coming and are hungry. They get out there and play their hearts out. I was a tennis player, so you really appreciate their talent and their skills. The opportunity to see them, meet them and watch them play is really unique.”
For new residents of the island, or those who have lived here for many years, the Open is a great way to get involved in the community, explained Linda Hughes, who has been volunteering at the event for eight years. Even better, island residents can ride a bike or even walk to work.
“Since all these new people are moving onto the island, this gives them a way to participate in the island—get to know your neighbors, get to know new friends,” said Hughes. “It’s a way to do something fun. You really feel a part of the island when you are volunteering for the Open.”
For more information about becoming a volunteer, visit http://www.volvocaropen.com/volunteer/. There is a $60 uniform fee that includes a jacket, polo shirt and hat. If interested in volunteering, it is important to sign up as soon as possible to ensure that the area of interest has spots open. If you have further questions, e-mail Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Volunteer Hotline (843) 849-5309, where you can leave a message.