Every year, Jordan Sprechman takes two weeks off his day job to work for the USTA at the Tournament Information desk, known fondly to the press as the man who makes the press conference announcements.
What brought you to the US Open?
I started working at the US Open when I worked for a company that was responsible for managing the telecopier machines in the early 80s. The machines take the reporters typed copy and transmit them to the newspaper, like an early day fax machine. Reporters then started showing up with early day terminals and put their copy into the phones and the method has obviously since died. So in 1984, my last year working for that company, it was a part time job, I was in law school at the time, I approached the USTA and said I’d like to work for them.
So since 1985 I’ve been here for the US Open ever since. I started out as a runner for Tournament Information, aggregating and disseminating information for the reporters, and also archiving that same information for the USTA’s permanent records. So what I did at the beginning was compile the information and disseminate it, and in 1992 I started announcing the press conferences.
So this would be your 20…
This would be my 28th except I skipped 1987 and 1990, so it’s my 26th on staff for the USTA, which is a full year of my life basically spent here on the grounds of the National Tennis Center.
Is there one that stands out?
1991. Connors was so much fun. His first round match that year against Patrick McEnroe which was a night match, he was down 2 sets, 0-3 and 40-0 in that game, and he won the game set and the match. It was back when Armstrong was the Stadium court, and Craig Gabriel was the pool reporter, he had to go over and see Jimmy who was dehydrated, the transcriptionist had already gone home, so I had to type up Jimmy’s post match interview. It was already 1.30am, by the time I left it was 4am, and I drove home to New Jersey and could see the sun rising. So that was probably the most memorable night.
Has it changed much?
A lot. The old building was fun because the press box was more intimate. You could actually see Centre Court, it was a football style press box, you could see what was going on. It was almost the same capacity, but it was a much steeper building, seats were closer, more vertical, so you felt like more part of the action, and there were fewer people covering, you knew everybody. The press room was so small, three rows of seats, you knew who bathed and hadn’t bathed, when it was hot it was boiling hot, when the sun went down it was freezing, the elevators never worked the bathrooms stank, and it was wonderful. It was fun place to cover an event from.
What do you do the rest of the year?
I am a lawyer but I work for JP Morgan Chase, I advise clients of the private bank on estate planning, wills, trusts things like that. I take not the full two weeks any more because the vacation is a little too precious, I take the first 8 days day and night, the second week I do the nights, and the last weekend. I take some of my vacation to work out there.
Do you have a favourite player?
Connors was my favourite because he was a great showman. I have the benefit of never having to deal with him, reporters said he could be very difficult, but you didn’t see that, I just thought he put on a great show, always had great success here. Of today’s players, again you watch them all on TV, I don’t have a favourite. My favourites are the ones that get the matches done quickly, I don’t mind long matches as long as they’re not the last matches. Todd Martin was a lot of fun to watch. I tend to have a bias in favour of the Americans, because I’m American. Everybody from their own nationality have their biases and that’s as it should be. The Chileans love Marcelo Rios and I won’t say what I think about Rios.
Do you watch much?
I will probably see about two or three games, not matches, games. Here there’s always something going on. We treat everybody the same, doesn’t matter if you’re Victoria Duval girls’ singles or Roger Federer No.1 men’s seed. You’re all entitled to the same treatment. So since my job is to make sure the information gets aggregated and disseminated, it doesn’t matter what it is, so I feel the obligation to be here. So because of that I don’t really get out.
So it’s not really about the tennis?
It has very little to do with the tennis. I cover a lot of sports for a lot of things, I’m an official scorer for major league baseball, to decide if it was a hit or an error, I’m a statistician for the New York Jets football, 32 years, I do Columbia football as well. To me this is a New York event, if it were in Memphis or Chicago I probably wouldn’t pay much attention. But this is my home town so I feel that if I can be part of it and represent us well and represent the sport well, I see the sports writers as my clients, and I can help them do their jobs and that reflects well on the event and the USTA.