July 20, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Written by: Dina Ibdah, Communications Intern

Stacey Allaster, BA’85, MBA’00, LLD’14, is the U.S. Open’s new tournament director, the first woman to hold the position. Allaster graduated from King’s University College with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Physical Education in 1985 and obtained her MBA from Ivey Business School in 2000. She was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports”.

Allaster was introduced to tennis in Welland, Ontario where she received racket lessons as a child. This ignited her lifelong passion for tennis which led to a successful professional career, from overseeing the Roger’s Cup to serving as chairman and CEO of the WTA Tour. During her time as an undergraduate student, she played tennis for the Western Mustangs from 1982-86, and remained undefeated in singles for the entirety. Along with her tennis partner, Vicky Bassett, Allaster also won the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association doubles championship in the 1985-86 season.

Allaster believes her time at King’s University College played an integral role in her journey. “I loved the environment. King's has a long tradition of supporting scholastic and athletic excellence. The entire community supported my efforts to excel on the court and in the classroom. I was fortunate to have professors who understood the value of sport. In addition to the physical and mental benefits, sport teaches young people discipline, self-confidence, resilience, accountability, and teamwork,” she says. Allaster claims that being introduced to lifelong friends was “the greatest gift” from King’s.

Allaster is honoured to take on her new position at the U.S. Open and is determined to use her platform to promote gender equality. “I was announced as the first woman in 140 years to be named the tournament director in Billy Jean King's house (The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center) which was incredibly special for me. I am privileged to have shattered the glass ceiling, and I understand the responsibility I have to continue to help all young leaders, particularly female leaders, achieve their professional goals,” says Allaster.

Allaster attributes her success to lifelong learning and persistence. She compares her career to reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. “There are different phases of the climb. In the early phase, you need an incredible amount of commitment and dedication. When we graduate from King’s, we might think that learning is done, but the success of your career is a lifelong journey of learning. Once I arrive at the summit of my goal, I am always looking for what is next,” says Allaster.

In light of the pandemic, a major challenge she now faces is how to build a fan base for tennis virtually. “With COVID-19 comes the opportunity to fast track our virtual engagement with our fans, and international growth. We have millions of fans; there will be 200 countries watching the U.S. Open. There is an opportunity to ignite global tennis. We have also announced we want to put thousands of people back to work. We can promote our sport and demonstrate it can return to play in a safe way. Sport is a massive fabric of our society and culture. There's a lot of demand for live sport and it is a passion point for the public,” she says.

One of Allaster’s main goals is to ensure the wellbeing of the athletes and maintain strong, professional relationships with them. “They will ultimately inspire viewers to start playing tennis. Look at the phenomenal success of our Canadian tennis players, and how they have put rocket fuel into Tennis Canada to mobilize Canadians to play our sport. We had a Canadian, Bianca Andreescu, win a Grand Slam - that's a mind-blowing dream,” she says.