2021 Executive Reflections: USTA’s Patti Fallick on the Power of an Unfaltering ‘Get it Done’ Attitude

When the pandemic hit the U.S. full force in March 2020, sports production was forced to accelerate technology changes that were already in motion but not expected to happen for several years. Health and safety came to the forefront of production concerns at the same time as engineers were racing to enable talent and tech to work from their homes. As always, the production industry came together as a family to deliver sports television to a public that was hungry for live entertainment. This editorial by Patti Fallick Managing Director, Broadcast, USTA, is the latest in a series of “2021 Reflections” from SVG’s 2021 Sports Production Yearbook in which sports-production leaders look back on a year unlike any other and offer projections for the year ahead.

Masked, socially distanced interviews helped share the players’ stories from the site of a US Open without fans in the stands.

The 2020 US Open was played on its regularly scheduled dates at its home, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. In this tough and trying year, beset by the global COVID-19 pandemic, that was not just good news; it was remarkable news! The successful staging of this year’s US Open was testament to the hard work, dedication, and support of many, including our US Open Domestic Broadcaster and Host Broadcaster, ESPN, and our Global broadcast partners.

The US Open was played without fans and governed by strict safety protocols. The considerations were enormous to make this happen; U.S. government, foreign governments, New York State, and New York City all played key roles. We needed to arrange for 1,800 visas and no quarantine,not only for the players but also for the Gravity Media crews, ATP Media crews, production staff, and announcers. And then there was staffing, logistics, partnership fulfillment, medical preparedness/testing, the fan at-home experience, social distancing, sanitizing equipment, segmenting bathrooms, safely providing more than 40,000 “to-go” meals for the crews, enforcing safety guidelines, and more for a compound that had 700 persons onsite. We had to be vigilant for six weeks, not only for the US Open but also for the Western and Southern Open, which was held prior to the US Open. The efforts embodied the professionalism, respect that the team had for each other, expertise, positive attitudes, commitment, and heart that led us all to two successful events. The US Open provided opportunities for vendors, freelancers, and announcers, many of whom had not worked for many months. This meant a great deal to me personally and provided motivation on a daily basis.

The unfaltering “get it done” attitudes of Jamie Reynolds and the ESPN team, the Gravity team, Nick Romano and the NEP team, Filmwerks, Veritone, Thumbwar, Boardwalk, Greyline, and the USTA world-feed production team led by Jennie Silverstein, our world feed and radio announcers, and our USTA team led by the remarkable efforts of Dayna Navatta — all were the silver lining and true gift to this US Open. That we did it under the most challenging of circumstances, with laughter and good spirits, is even more impressive. Our hope is, everyone continues to stay safe and well and celebrates their contributions to this historic 2020 US Open.

This piece was originally published as part of the “Reflections 2020” section in the 2021 SVG Sports Production Yearbook, which you can read in full HERE.

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