Stacey Allaster ’85, named Tournament Director of the U.S. Open

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. Stacey graduated from King’s in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Physical Education, and she obtained her MBA from Ivey Business School in 2000. She was named by Forbes magazine as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Sports”.

Introduced to the sport of tennis as a child growing up in Welland, Ontario, Stacey’s lifelong passion for tennis has led to a successful career, from overseeing the Roger’s Cup to serving as chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (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, Stacey won the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association doubles championship in the 1985-86 season.

Stacey believes her time at King’s 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. She also notes that being introduced to lifelong friends was “the greatest gift” from King’s.

Stacey 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,” she says. “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.”

Attributing her success to lifelong learning and persistence, Stacey 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 you graduate from King’s, you might think that learning is done, but the success of your career is a lifelong journey of learning. For me, when I arrive at the summit of my goal, I am always looking for what is next.”

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 were 200 countries watching the U.S. Open this year. This is an opportunity to ignite global tennis. We can promote our sport and demonstrate that 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 Stacey’s main goals is to ensure the well-being 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 mindblowing dream,” she says.