Nike Internship Takes Chan To NYC For The U.S. Open
Sept. 13, 2010
As the world's best tennis players put on a show at the U.S. Open over the past fortnight, one of the top college tennis players, Husky senior Venise Chan, enjoyed a behind-the-scenes view.
Chan competed at Flushing Meadows in the U.S. Open Juniors tournament back in 2006, reaching the Round of 32 in singles and Round of 16 in doubles. It was there that she first met Husky Head Coach Jill Hultquist, and it has proved to be quite a fortuitous meeting. Chan came in and took over the No. 1 singles spot as a freshman, and has led the Huskies to three-straight NCAA tournaments after a two-year absence. A two-time All-Pac-10 First Teamer, Chan earned All-America honors last year and will enter her senior season ranked No. 9 in the country in singles.
This summer, the opportunity arose for Chan to intern with Nike in its tennis division, at the Beaverton campus. It was a natural fit for Chan, who majors in business administration and is a two-time Pac-10 All-Academic Team member. Chan spent the past couple months getting a hands-on look at the inner workings of Nike's tennis marketing machine.
The biggest challenge in front of her was planning and producing Nike's event at the annual Arthur Ashe Kid's Day, held at the start of the U.S. Open.
Before heading to New York, Chan "created a plan of attack of how Nike's Kid's Day will look and executed upon it," she says. That involved overseeing budget planning and staffing and also the finer details of designing an obstacle course for the children and creating banners to display at the event.
The litany of departments involved in planning such an event is exhausting in and of itself. "Part of the process was getting the necessary internal approval from sports marketing, branding, events, legal and risk management, and the USTA," says Chan.
Chan also was in contact with the agents for a number of professional players, working to get them involved and iron out their schedules. Players on hand included Li Na (an Australian Open semifinalist this year ranked No. 9), Lucie Safarova, and American Amer Delic, a former NCAA Champion. Former pros Brad Gilbert (who has coached Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick) and Paul Annacone (coach of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer) were also involved, as was pro women's basketball legend Lisa Leslie.
"Meeting Lisa Leslie was really exciting, and I got to talk with her and her family," says Chan.
"It was a bit stressful at first," says Chan on the planning process. "I had never been in a working environment, sitting in meetings and on conference calls. At the Beaverton office, I learned to work as part of a team, sitting down with individuals and learning what each staff member does to contribute to the team. I definitely learned to think in terms of the company I work for and keep in mind that all actions are a reflection of Nike and the high standards set forth when executing this event."
Once the event rolled around, Chan had to help manage the 1,600+ kids in attendance, and it quickly confirmed that "communication plays a key role." One new idea Chan implemented this year was a photo booth, where kids could pose with their free bandanas and then download the photo from a website once they got home.
"I think I managed to remain calm and that the day was definitely a success," says Chan. "Seeing the execution phase after all the planning and actually seeing what works and what doesn't is part of the fun."
The summer hasn't been all work and no play for Chan, however. Back in July she kept her court skills sharp by competing in, and winning, the Nike Tennis Championships held in Beaverton as part of the USTA Pacific Northwest Summer Circuit. She beat college players from Cal Poly and Arizona State in the semis and the final, both of whom were ranked at the end of the 2010 season. Chan, who was able to reconnect with friends from her junior days on tour at the U.S. Open, also got a chance to hit with the Columbia University men's tennis team in New York. Kevin Kung, a Columbia team member, is a fellow Hong Kong native.
Once Kid's Day was wrapped up, Chan still had more work to do, and a lot of tennis to enjoy.
"I also learned to execute Nike's efforts around other aspects of the U.S. Open, helping with other projects my teammates were working on, and I went to all the Nike intern speaker talks," says Chan. "Also I worked in the Nike suite box as a representative of Nike, so I basically get to watch every single match in wonderful suite seats!"
As for a favorite match of the tournament, Chan could only narrow it down to any and all of Kim Clijsters' matches. The Belgian star won her third U.S. Open title and second in a row on Saturday. "She's just so talented and amazing on the court," Chan says, adding "I wish I had her forehand!"
As the summer break winds down, Chan will head back to Hong Kong for ten days before coming back to Seattle to prepare for the fall season. Her senior campaign begins with the ITA All-American Championships, where she was a semifinalist last year, and has an automatic bid into the main draw.
The great appeal for college tennis is how it brings the team environment to a largely individual sport. Chan has now enjoyed success as a team player on the court and for one of the world's largest corporations.
"The best part is still working with different people and getting to know them," says Chan. "It's been a great experience to be part of the team!"