Citi hosts Professional Development Day at the Citi Open
By Candi Wolff, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Government Affairs, Citi August 14, 2017 03:00 PM
Earlier this month, Citi celebrated its sixth consecutive year as the title sponsor of the Citi Open tennis tournament in Washington D.C. While the on-court action hosted some of the most exciting players and matches that the Citi Open has ever seen, off the court Citi was promoting progress in the D.C. community.
The Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), the owner and beneficiary of the Citi Open, has made a difference in the lives of underserved youth in the Washington D.C. area for more than 60 years. The Foundation’s mission is to use tennis as an entry point to share life lessons and set young people on the path to reaching their full potential. In support of this mission, Citi hosted the second annual Citi Professional Development Day at the Citi Open. On Tuesday, Aug. 1, nine WTEF students and alumni and three students from the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative were given an opportunity to see first-hand what it takes to put on a world-class event like the Citi Open, and were also given new perspectives on potential careers in sports off the court.
To kick off the day, the Pathways to Progress participants spoke to the WTEF students about the skills they’ve acquired since joining the program, from leadership and workplace skills to developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The Pathways participants shared stories about getting into college, picking their majors, and answered the WTEF students’ questions about advancing their career aspirations. The WTEF students talked to the Pathways participants about their love of tennis and how the WTEF has made a difference in their lives.
Last year’s Citi Open Men’s Champion Gael Monfils also stopped by to speak to the group about his own professional journey. He shared that his life after tennis may include pursuing his long-held passion for watchmaking.
After the session with Monfils, the students shadowed 12 professionals whose occupations spanned a wide range of roles that bring the tournament to life, including the tournament director, a television reporter covering the tournament, a WTA player liaison, a player agent and a production team at the Tennis Channel. Participants were also provided with a number of hands-on opportunities at the tournament. One student was given the chance to flip the coin at the start of a match, while another was put in charge of the microphone at a player press conference in the tournament’s media center.
12-year-old King Gibbson, a WTEF participant who shadowed Sheena Pegarido from the tournament’s public relations team, observed that as Sheena told her about her job, “she took me on a tour of the courts, the press box and a suite. She also told me about the different channels that cover the tournament, including the Tennis Channel.”
In addition to the Citi Professional Development Day, Citi hosted Speed Serve at the tournament, a program that challenges fans to serve a tennis ball and beat the designated speed. Every time the fans beat the speed, Citi made a donation to the WTEF to help support academic and athletic programs. Fans, young and old, lined up to try Speed Serve and trigger donations to the WTEF. At the conclusion of the Citi Open, Citi was proud to donate $50,000 to the WTEF.
Every year at the Citi Open, Citi recognizes individuals who have positively impacted the WTEF throughout its 60 years of existence by inducting them into the WTEF Hall of Fame. This year, at a ceremony on-site at the Citi Cardmember lounge, the WTEF Hall of Fame chose to honor the world’s most accomplished men’s doubles team, “The Bryan Brothers,” Bob and Mike Bryan, Pearl Hicks and James Newmyer for their steadfast commitment to the WTEF organization.
Citi recently featured two members of the WTEF staff in its latest Progress Makers spot in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the WTEF. The spot aired on the Tennis Channel during the Citi Open, the French Open and Wimbledon this year.
Citi is proud to have supported the WTEF at another great Citi Open this year and is looking forward to the 50th anniversary of this historic tournament next summer.