The 2015 US Open Grand Prix Gold is in the semifinals today. As Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia is advancing, heated and exciting matches are expected to be played out today. As matches are announced, who does all the calling? It is Min Chern from Boston. She would like to share what it is like it be the VOICE of the 2015 US Open.
by Min Chern
As emcee, I am the voice of the tournament. All announcements on the loudspeaker are done by me. Any time a match is called, it’s my voice. Any time we need to remind spectators not to use flash photography, it’s my voice.
It’s not simply a matter of sitting there and talking on the microphone when I want to. A lot of players come from Asia, and it’s hard to tell how to pronounce their names without searching on Wikipedia for their name in Chinese characters. The tournament software name ordering for some players is not correct because the players manage it themselves and may not have figured out the difference between first name and last name capitalization. Additionally, I have to keep watch on the courts for which matches are coming off, which matches are going on which courts. Management of all courts is done jointly by Match Control, the tournament referees and the emcee.
Matches come on and off courts all the time, so it’s hard to take a break. The best time for a break is when all courts have been put on around the same time. All matches are not assigned courts right away, as well, so we need to determine which match is most likely to come off court and assign it to the next match on the schedule.
The order of the courts from farthest to closest to the tournament desk is 4, 2, 1, 3. Courts 1 and 2 are TV courts, so the most tantalizing matches will be put on those courts if possible. We gave court 4 the nickname “Siberia” because it is so far away, there is a large draft on that court, and it is so cold over there. Court 3 is the best court for the tournament desk to watch, but it doesn’t give us an optimal viewing angle. Still, we can still see and hear nearly everything on that court. Most of the court officials are badminton fans as well (how can they not be? Badminton is their job) so we had discussions about the behind the scenes occurrences and laughed at some things we noticed about players.
Being at the tournament desk is very exciting. It’s a rush to be able to see all the players and see the action live! Unfortunately, unlike line judges, I can’t interact well with the players since I need to be at the desk at nearly all times. I can’t take pictures with the players nor can I really talk to them. The biggest connection I have with them is really just saying their names over the loudspeaker. I hope I accurately said most of their names. The tournament referees prefer me to say the names in the most accurate way possible. For players of Chinese descent, the naming convention is Last Name, Given Name. For all other players, the naming convention is Given Name, Last Name. For Beiwen Zhang, who is of Chinese descent, her name is said Given Name, Last Name, since she is representing USA.
Has played badminton in the Boston area for 15 years, occasionally volunteers as a line judge and tournament official at local tournaments. Working as an tax accountant, this is her second year volunteering at the US Open.