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The Storied Career of Anne Baxter Humes

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The Storied Career of Anne Baxter Humes

By Carol MacLennan

 

Anne Baxter Humes has truly distinguished herself in the USTA tennis community! For over forty years, she has contributed to the growth of tennis, not only in the New Jersey District, but in Middle States and at the National level, as well. When I first agreed to write an article on Anne Humes for NJD, I thought I would be writing about her recent retirement as the Administrative Director, Office of the President of the USTA. Hearing how she dealt with five USTA presidents over ten years would definitely be interesting news, not to mention the excitement and challenges of managing the President's Suite at the US Open.

 

However, after reading Anne's resume, I was surprised to learn that she has held numerous positions with the USTA over the course of 40 years, many of them as a volunteer. Everything from editor of USTA Guides and Directories to Manager of the USTA President's Suite. Anne held various positions on the USTA Middle States board from 1993 to 2008, serving as section president in 2001-2002. She also volunteered on several National committees including Community Development and USTA SERV. Her history of volunteering extended beyond the USTA and included serving on the boards of Princeton Tennis Program and Princeton Adult School. With a special affinity for community tennis and for diversity, Anne spent ten years working with Special Olympics International to establish tennis as a medal sport. In recognition of her efforts, she received the Special Olympics International Service Award in 1987. Anne knew how to multi task! Much of her volunteer work took place while managing her career as Institutional Advancement Officer at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

 

Other achievements include receiving the prestigious Mangan Award in 2004 and the Middle States Presidential Service Award in 2009. Anne was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Mercer County and USTA Middle States. She and husband Bill were NJD Family of the year in 2001. Suffice it to say that Anne Humes has dedicated much of her life to tennis in our community, and the USTA was fortunate to reap the benefits of her work.

 

And now on to the purpose of this article. Let's find out what it was like to work for the President of the USTA. While acting is the Administrative Director to the President, Anne worked for five presidents, starting with Franklin Johnson who created the position and hired her in 2005. He was followed by Jane Brown Grimes, Lucy Garvin, Jon Vegosen and Dave Haggerty, who completed his term in 2014. Following is a Q and A with Anne. Questions were submitted by the NJD Board of Directors.

 

Q. What were your basic duties as Administrative Director?

A. Basically my job was to serve as chief of staff to the President and to manage the operation of the President’s Suite in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open. In this role, I handled a wide range of matters of importance to the President and oversaw the operations of the office of the President.

 

Q. Describe one of your most difficult/challenging moments and how you overcame it.

A. The biggest challenge of the position was knowing that I would have a new boss every time a new Board of Directors was nominated, which for the USTA is every two years. In ten years, I had five different bosses. Each president had their own personality, their own goals and priorities, and their own work style, and I had a very short window to learn and adjust from one to the other so that I could serve the President to the best of my ability. The new board is announced in September of even years, and I would begin the transition of working for the incoming president in October while continuing to work for the sitting president until the end of their term. In those transition years, I was actually working for two bosses for a period of time.

 

Q. What was your most memorable experience working as Administrative Director?

A. In 2007, I had the idea of reaching out to my counterparts at the other Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, and inviting them to come to New York during the US Open to see our tournament. We knew each other only by email and phone conversations, so it was fantastic to meet in person, do some brainstorming and share ideas. It was extremely beneficial for each of us. Two years later, we all met again at the French Open, and a tradition was started.

 

Q. What motivated you to seek the Administrative Director position?

A. Actually, I didn’t seek the position. I was very content serving as Middle States Delegate and working at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. When Franklin Johnson was nominated as President in 2004, he called and asked me to come and work for him. He had the idea to combine two positions – support for the USTA President and Manager of the President’s Suite – into one role as Executive Administrator to the President, and he asked if I would be willing to take the position. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to take this on, but after speaking with my family, I decided to give it a go. As my son jokingly said, “Mom, at your age, how many more opportunities will you have?” Actually, it was a bit of a no-brainer. I was very knowledgeable about the workings of the USTA both through the eyes of a volunteer and as a staff person at the USTA Princeton Office, and I had many years of experience managing the President’s Box.

 

Q. What was one occurrence that made you feel as though you made a difference in the lives of youth/adults?

A. In the last two years working with Dave Haggerty, one of Dave’s priorities was to reach out to our highly-ranked US juniors playing at the Junior Grand Slam tournaments. I helped Dave organize informal player parties - spaghetti dinners, pizza parties, BBQs – for the players, their families, coaches and anyone traveling with them. It was a great way for the USTA to support and connect with our upcoming juniors and I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know them. I was happy to hear that the new USTA President Katrina Adams will continue the tradition.

 

Q. Tell us about your experiences managing the President’s Suite.

A. I’ve been involved with working or managing the President’s Suite at the Open since 1986. We’ve always strived to make the President’s Suite a special and unique experience for the guests. We encourage a welcoming, friendly atmosphere where everyone is made to feel welcome and special, and this includes many celebrities. We have several well-known celebrities who love tennis and join us at the Open every year. Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, Regis Philbin, Kevin Spacey and Tony Bennett are just some of the regulars on our guest list. Of course, it’s an unwritten but understood rule that everyone in the suite respects the privacy of celebrities and other guests who want to enjoy watching tennis and talking tennis.

 

Guests in the suite come to us in various ways. We keep a list of celebrity guests who receive an invitation to attend the US Open every year. Other celebrities will contact us if they are in town and would like to spend a day at the Open. We also invite USTA section presidents and volunteers from each of the 17 sections in the USTA as well as national committee members and many others. And then there are those guests who come without an invitation or an invitation from a previous year. Believe it or not, it happens. We do our best to handle each situation as discreetly as possible and not embarrass anyone.

 

Q. Who was the most memorable guest(s) in the President’s Box?

A. There have been many memorable guests, including Queen Sofia of Spain, the Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Albert of Monaco, Sophia Loren, Condoleezza Rice, Bruce Willis, Placido Domingo, military leaders, astronauts and many international tennis dignitaries including three ITF Presidents – the late Philippe Chatrier, Brian Tobin and Francesco Ricci Bitti.

 

Q. Tell us some funny stories or memorable moments of the President’s Box.

A. At one time, the Duchess of Gloucester was a guest in the box. The Duchess is a huge tennis fan and she is the patroness of the Lawn Tennis Association. It was amazing to have royalty in the box. At one point during the day, I received a phone call from one of our ushers who asked me to look out towards the roof. There on the roof (where special permission is needed to obtain access) were the Duchess and the usher waving to us. It’s the best view because you can see then entire venue with the Manhattan skyline in the background and the Duchess wanted to see it!

 

Many years ago, when the President’s Suite was in Louis Armstrong Stadium, I had trained the staff to welcome guests they didn’t recognize by offering their hand with the greeting “Welcome. My name is _____”. Typically the guest would reply with their name and the mystery was solved! One afternoon a young couple entered the suite. I offered my hand saying “Welcome, My name is Anne Humes. The young man shook my hand and said “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Tom Cruise.” The staff never let me forget that I didn’t recognize Tom Cruise.

 

Also in the old stadium, Jack Nicholson came to the box wearing a golf shirt. Back then there was a strict dress code and jacket and tie were required for men at all times. As politely as I could, I explained the dress code and handed him a loaner jacket and tie and asked him to put them on, but he was having no part of it. Guess who got into the suite wearing a golf shirt?

 

Recently, the Queen of Spain came to the US Open to watch Rafael Nadal play in the men’s final, and she was a guest in the suite with President Dave Haggerty. Unsure of how one greets a queen, we decided to have Dave meet her at the President’s Gate with a bouquet of flowers and personally escort her to the box. Dave stood at the gate with bouquet in hand waiting for her arrival. A limo drove up with a police detail and security said it was the Queen. Dave started to walk to the car with the bouquet, but when we saw the occupant, he knew it was not the Queen! She arrived a few minutes later and was greeted by Dave!

 

Q. Will you miss working for the USTA and how will you fill your free time?

A. For me, it's all about the people and I will miss my colleagues at the USTA very much. Fortunately, Bill is on a national committee so I will attend the Annual and Semiannual Meetings as his guest - a new role for me! I am looking forward to seeing everyone and appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch. So far, I haven't had much free time as I am busy doing a lot of things I put off while I was working. I do love being able to take long walks with our dog and to playing tennis with friends. Bill has the greater adjustment as he has been retired for many years and is not used to sharing, especially in the kitchen!

 

The USTA MS New Jersey District extends our best wishes to Anne Humes on her retirement with thanks for her many years of service to the USTA and the tennis community in New Jersey.

 

 

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