Bob Moran is the tournament director and president of the Volvo Car Open.
Moran’s typical day begins about 5 a.m. and can end as late as midnight during the week of the biggest women’s-only pro tennis event in North America. Among his concerns during his long days are hopes for healthy players, happy fans and the weather, which only Mother Nature can control.
He also is the face of tennis in Charleston during the week of the tourney that draws an international audience via the Tennis Channel.
He’s busy. But he wouldn’t have it any way.
That’s why he used “devastated” to describe his, his staff and sponsors’ feelings when the tournament, which kicks off the spring’s clay-court season, was canceled. He even considered playing what would have been the 20th tournament with no fans in attendance. But the pandemic canceled the Daniel Island event and the world’s sports calendar.
Today, Moran tries to keep things as normal as possible while looking at a stunning tennis facility that now will not be home to as many as 90,000-100,000 fans and 64 outstanding players on the WTA tour.
“Like everyone else, I’ve asked my team to work from home for the foreseeable future,” Moran said. “We have a lot of partners, ticket holders and stakeholders to deal with. We’re also in the process of working with our concert partners on the May, June schedules and possible alternate dates in the summer and fall. There are no easy answers right now as we don’t know when this will end.”
Moran is aware that Daniel Island and the City of Charleston lost a chance to be in the world’s sports spotlight thanks to the Tennis Channel’s coverage, which included about eight hours a day to an audience of more than 150 countries around the world.
“But everyone is taking a hit right now,” Moran said. “All industries are feeling loss and pressure. I’m truly hoping that we all work together and help each other to ensure that this threat can be dealt with as quick as possible and with as little damage as possible. This is heartbreaking on so many different levels.”
The decision process to shut down the tournament was long, complicated and correct. It was stunning to hear that March Madness, the Volvo Car Open and other big sporting events were shutting down. Now it’s become the norm.
Volvo Car Open officials had conversations about the coronavirus with WTA officials in mid-February. Moran met with tournament partner MUSC and the team from The WTA Health and Sports Sciences on March 1. The discussions focused on creating a plan and putting measures in place to protect the health and safety of the players, fans, volunteers, partners and staff.
But, as two of the major tennis events in the United States — Indian Wells and Miami — were canceled, it was just a matter of time before the curtain fell on Daniel Island.
“The dominoes started to fall when the ATP cancelled the next six weeks of play which started with Miami,” Moran said. “Later that same evening, the president announced a travel ban from Europe to the U.S. The WTA quickly sent out an advisory to the players that same evening to get themselves home as soon as possible. Once that happened, it eliminated any chance of holding the event.
“There were so many unknowns and it seemed every hour the conversations and news were changing,” Moran added. “It was a very difficult decision for all involved and I simply hurt for all the people who put so much time and energy into building this event in April. I also feel very badly for the players who now have no source of income and are on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.”
The French Open, which culminates the clay-court season, was postponed. Roland Garros officials announced the event, which is usually held in late spring, will be held in late September.
“The French Open essentially did a land grab on the calendar,” Moran said. “Unfortunately, they made that decision in a vacuum with no consideration for the WTA, ATP or the players. When the world is faced with a global threat, we all need to work together for proper solutions. As far as we go, we will work with the WTA and all governing bodies regarding the calendars moving forward. We will explore all opportunities, including ones that may be outside the box.”