Andrew Krasny is the voice heard around many ATP and WTA tournaments all over the country, in his role as the tour renown emcee. Krasny began his career in show business, working under the late comedian Joan Rivers. Initially, he was answering fan mail for her shows until he was later brought on as a writer and producer, which he did for nearly 30 years.
How Krasny broke into the tennis stratosphere is pretty interesting. “When I was a kid, I was pretty klutzy, but in my late 20s I picked up tennis and fell in love with the game. At the time, I was working in television, hosting a dating show, and warming up audiences (for Joan Rivers).” A role that would make his professional leap a much easier adjustment.
Q: So, how’d you get your foot in the door?
“I was at a tennis tournament 18 years ago (2001) and I remember watching Andre Agassi being announced by a guy in his 80s and thinking…you know what? He’s gonna be retiring soon. I want his job.
I later approached a friend who worked for the tournament director (Bob Kramer) and Bob was nice enough to allow me to volunteer for a week on the Grandstand Court. I wound up being a volunteer emcee for three years…just in it for the free gear and thankfully it turned into a career.”
Q: What do you love most about your role as an emcee and entertainer?
“I love an audience and I always have. I love making crowds laugh. The key as a host, emcee, and announcer is to understand ….no one is there to see you, but it’s your job to make them feel welcome. You never want to make it about yourself or be bigger than the players. It’s a celebration of the event and people performing.”
Q: How has the job changed over the last decade?
“It’s changed ten fold over the last 10 years. I used to just come with an iPod and that was it. Now I have a crew of 65 to 70 people putting out high-level production elements. Technology has made this job easier. A couple additives include Hawkeye (shows ball mark) on multiple courts and more intricate graphics and clips for the big screen.”
Q: Initially, was it challenging to gain the respect of the players on tour?
“Yes, but I think they respect someone who watches, knows the game, and asks meaningful questions, because they get asked questions all day by the media. My job is to ask questions fans want to know the answers to and I think coming from a pure fan standpoint…I kind of have the advantage. Most announcers and analysts are former players. I feel like I represent the diehard fans of the game.”
Q: What’s the key to an engaging an athlete in an interview? Especially following a match.
Another key is to match the energy of the person I’m interviewing. Whether they win or lose, it changes their energy level one way or another. I need to take that into consideration when I go out there. And never anything negative.”
Q: What’s the key to an engaging an athlete in an interview? Especially one following a match.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with these players behind the scenes over the years and have developed genuine friendships with many of them. I think they realize I want to represent them in the best light because they understand our friendship is genuine. I think that helps with all my post-match interviews and such. I make sure not to be too invasive, but at the same time…I want to ask questions that are worthy. They don’t want to be asked stupid questions either.
Q: Surely some aren’t as easy to crack as others…
“Definitely. Some players are friendlier than others and easier to get to know. I would say some just understand the value of friendships more than others. They’re all professional and very decent and appreciative human beings.”
Q: I think your energy and ability to be informal but candid helps as well. It wasn’t the norm for an emcee to be a jokester/entertainer. Thoughts?
“Yes, I agree. I have a large sense of humor. Luckily, no players have ever said “I don’t want to joke around” or “I don’t like your jokes.” But you learn who to joke with and who not to. And it’s all about timing.
Before Federer goes on court at a major…I don’t tell silly jokes. I joke around a lot, but you learn the appropriate times. I would say my sense of humor has gotten me to where I am today, combined with my professional dedication to being the best host, announcer, or emcee that I can be.”
Q: Are tennis crowds in general very similar? & How do fans in Cincinnati compare?
“Actually, no. It’s interesting because every crowd I interact with is different. The commonality is they all love tennis, but there are real palpable differences.
One thing I love about Cincinnati’s crowd is they have a true respect for the history of the game in the Midwest. There’s a genuine hospitality there, and their love and appreciation for the game of tennis is real. The passion is very real and it’s what makes it one of my favorite tournaments. “
Q: Your voice has become synonymous with the Western & Southern Open. You’ve been doing the tournament for awhile.
“It’s been 11 years I believe. I love the history there. It’s a special place. I head there a few days early every year to do the draw party and it’s a ton of fun. I love a lot of things in Cincy, there’s a lot to do too. Graeter’s (Black Raspberry Chip), Skyline Chili, Rhinegeist Brewery.
Q: What makes it different?
“One thing that stands out is how they play every anthem right before the finals. (“Opera singer Berti Helmick performs! She’s been doing it for DECADES.”) The players appreciate that. They are astute and intelligent people, and know where they are appreciated. The top players seem to always choose Cincinnati. Like Roger (Federer). He doesn’t need to be there at this stage of his career, but he and his family love it there. When they say that…they mean it.
Also, shout out to John Barrett (Western & Southern CEO). He loves tennis. And if it wasn’t for John…tennis in Mason likely wouldn’t be what it is today.”