The first day after the New Year’s and Christmas holidays was a good continuation of these festivities. On Wednesday, January 9, a traditional press conference for media representatives was held in the northwestern regional office of TASS News Agency. The participants included members of the Organizing Committee, as well as the representatives of the city authorities and the sports community.
The speeches were delivered by the Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Vladimir Kirillov, the Deputy Chairman of the Board at Gazprom PJSC and the Director General of the WTA Tournament Alexander Medvedev, the WTA Tournament Director and the Director General of the Formula Tennis-Xokkey Company Natalia Kamelzon, the Member of the Tournament’s Board for Player Relations Iva Majoli, the Member of the Tournament’s Board for General Affairs and the Merited Coach of Russia Vladimir Kamelzon, and the PR Director of the tournament Vera Podguzova.
Director General of the WTA Tournament Alexander Medvedev welcomed the guests to the press conference, congratulated them on the New Year and Christmas, wished everyone joy and happiness in 2019, and jokingly noted that what happens in life is not what really happens, rather what is told and broadcasted about it, meaning that the image of the upcoming women’s tournament through the lens of the country’s and the world’s sports life will depend on the quality of media coverage.
The Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Vladimir Kirillov greeted the guests and participants of the press conference on behalf of the Acting Governor Alexander Beglov. In his speech Kirillov highlighted the importance of men’s and women’s professional tennis tournaments for the sports calendar of the Northern Capital. The Vice Governor noted that the IV International Tennis Tournament St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy promises to be even more exciting, thanks to the participants of the competition, with decorated Russian athletes Maria Sharapova and Daria Kasatkina among them. He also expressed certainty that this time the event will again be organized according to the highest professional standards. Kirillov also mentioned the well-deserved acknowledgement received by St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy: in 2018 the tournament was named best in the Premier category, according to the independent voting among players.
– In this case the athletes not only evaluated the competition itself, but also – and primarily – the quality of work of the tournament’s team, the fans’ enthusiasm, and the audience’s dedication to tennis and to the players themselves. On this matter, I would like to express my gratitude and thank the Director General of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and St. Petersburg Open Alexander Medvedev; it is with his arrival that tennis and the prestige of this sport rose not only in St. Petersburg, but also in Russia. We are willing to continue our comprehensive support of the tennis events. I would also like to thank media representatives for their attention to the international tennis tournaments and to the whole idea of a healthy lifestyle.
Alexander Medvedev thanked the Vice Governor for the appreciation and high evaluation of St. Petersburg’s tournaments and brought everyone’s attention to the upcoming St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, which is going to be more star-packed than the 2018 edition, since there are three top 10 players among the participants: the last year’s winner Petra Kvitova, who received a wild card last year and is now world’s no. 8; no. 9 in the world Kiki Bertens, and Daria Kasatkina (no. 10 in the WTA ranking), who started her journey to the tennis top at the professional tennis tournaments of St. Petersburg. Medvedev also mentioned Vera Zvonareva, who won the doubles title in St. Petersburg, the winner and the finalist of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy Kristina Mladenovic, and the owner of eleven WTA titles Julia Goerges.
– Our competition today has – as journalists would say – a special flavor, but I would say it’s more of a jelly candy flavor given to it by Maria Sharapova and her Sugarpova candy. We sincerely hope that there will not be anything to prevent the athlete from performing in St. Petersburg. At the moment, she is preparing for the Australian Open. It will be possible to try Sugarpova candy at St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019. The producer has agreed to supply the candy for the tournament. Personally, I liked the jelly candy a lot, and I recommend to everyone to buy this diet-friendly product and not wait until the last day of the competition to do so.
As for the competition aspect of the tournament, Alexander Medvedev noted that this time there are four wild cards provided by the Organizing Committee, and two of them are meant for the top 20 players or the Grand Slam winners. According to the tournament’s Director General, there are already two players who have applied for the wild cards: Vera Zvonareva, who has had a successful comeback after giving birth to her child, and the world tennis superstar Victoria Azarenka. The Organizing Committee have already made their decisions on two wild cards: one will be granted to Ekaterina Makarova; the rights for the second card belong to IMG, and the company wil decide on who will receive it together with the Organizing Committee.
WTA Tournament Director Natalia Kamelzon congratulated all the participants of the press conference and its guests, as well as the tournament’s team representatives who could not attend the event, on the common professional achievements which made it possible for St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy to become the best tournament of 2018. As for the list of participants of the upcoming competition, Ms. Kamelzon noted that the 2019 edition will be better and more solid than the previous ones, because the audience will see on court the three players who have had an outstanding rise in the WTA ranking: Daria Kasatkina (two WTA titles), Aryna Sabalenka (world’s no. 11, three WTA titles), and Katerina Siniakova (no. 31 in the singles ranking, and no. 1 in doubles). She also mentioned Donna Vekic who – as it became known during Ms. Kamelzon’s speech – had climbed from the 34th to the 29th position in the WTA ranking. In Natalia Kamelzon’s opinion, the matches promise to be very interesting.
Ms. Kamelzon brought the journalists’ attention to big changes in the main draw ceremony, which is taking place on Sunday this time, on the 27th of January on the Center Court of Sibur Arena during the break between the first and second qulifying matches. The ceremony will begin at 1 pm. This event was approved by WTA and is going to be spectacular. For the first time in the tournament’s history the main draw ceremony will be held in the presence of spectators watching from the stands of Sibur Arena.
WTA Tournament Director concluded her speech with the following:
– Our team for St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019 will include Mikhail Youzhny and a popular tv host from Match TV Sofya Tartakova. The headliner of the closing show is a Russian actor, singer, a winner of Golden Gramophone awards, and a multiple winner of the MUZ-TV awards, a Eurovision 2016 participant Sergey Lazarev.
Member of the Tournament’s Board for Player Relations Iva Majoli, together with the other members of the Board for St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, is proud of its title of the best tournament achieved in the Premier category in 2018. Iva Majoli mentioned that this year’s competition has the best list of participants and expressed her hope for the upcoming tournament to outshine the previous one.
PR Director of the WTA tournament Vera Podguzova thanked St. Petersburg’s Metro and the Committee for the Press and Mass Media Cooperation for the provided opportunity to organize a promotional campaign for the upcoming tournament and talked about some of the aspects of the big work that the PR Department of St. Petersburg’s tournament is working on. Vera Podguzova talked about a kids tournament which was part of the Formula of Success series beloved by many people and was held ahead of the New Year’s celebrations on the 22nd of December, 2018 in the Lokosphinx Tennis Center and about the traditional tournament for media representatives which had been held two days prior.
– We have prepared a vast entertainment and educational program for St. Petersburg’s residents and tournament’s guests. It will begin on the 12th and 13th of January in the Piter Raduga Shopping Center with the traditional tennis clinics for everyone interested. We will be very pleased to hold daily tennis clinics Learn to Work with a Racquet and a Ball! at Sibur Arena with the participation of famous freestyle tennis performers. On the 27th of January Mikhail Youzhny will be participating in the Tennis Day for Families. As part of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019 we will hold a cyber tennis tournament on Saturday, January 26. The winner of the competition will get the opportunity to play with Mikhail Youzhny. Every day we will offer the opportunity to try virtual reality tennis to everyone interested. Starting from 3 pm every day there will be autograph sessions with the world tennis stars – very popular events among everyone. This year the Organizing Committee also prepared special off court activities for the participants of St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019. The players of the IV International Tennis Tournament will visit the palace of Alexander Menshikov, who was a part of the emperor Peter the Great’s inner circle and the first governor of St. Petersburg, they will take part in the cooking class organized by the Mansarda Restaurant, visit the State Hermitage Museum, go on various beautiful tours of the city, and, according to the beloved tradition, on Thursday, January 31, the players will visit Mikhailovsky Theater.
The speech of Vladimir Kamelzon, the Member of the Tournament’s Board and the Merited Coach of Russia, this time resembled cold exposure training, but he was the only one to take the cold shower, i.e. be criticized… by himself. He proclaimed himself to be the most critical spokesperson of every event, always unsatisfied, and often giving everyone a hard time. As for positive feedback and appreciation, these were addressed to the media representatives.
Vladimir Kamelzon told the journalists:
– I am pleased to be in this room and to see you, we grew together! Your dedication to work at our tournaments is paying off: two tournaments – ATP and WTA – were named the best, and you played your part in it too. You have a good eye for what is happening around you. As for the part of the Organizing Committee, we are doing everything in our power to make the tournaments more interesting every year. Let’s celebrate our tournaments and your work! Thank you, everyone.
After the speeches were made, there were surprisingly few questions from the media representatives. This can most probably be explained by the comprehensive speeches from the people in charge of the competition, that did not leave any room for doubts about how interesting and welcoming the upcoming tournament is going to be.