A special milestone for the Charleston Public Courts tennis tournament called for a special way to honor it. And after some talented Charleston minds came together, that special idea came to fruition.
Those who participate in this year’s Public Courts tournament, the 60th in the event’s history, will receive a commemorative vintage poster celebrating that occasion. The idea for that poster was born from a lunchtime conversation between Public Courts committee member Dana Eddy and Lexy Kessel, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau’s new sports and events sales manager. The two were bouncing ideas off each other for new ways to promote the tournament.
“[Kessel] had several excellent ideas,” Eddy said. “Frankly, I left not knowing exactly what she was going to do, and then she came up with this wonderful poster.”
In finding the perfect design for the poster, Kessel knew just where to go — Base Camp Printing on Tennessee Avenue. After coming to Charleston in May to work for the CVB, Kessel saw a friend’s poster from Base Camp — known for its West Virginia-themed posters and work for Mountain Stage — and went to the shop herself to look around.
She returned to the shop after her conversation with Eddy and discussed designing a Public Courts poster with Base Camp co-owner Emily Sokolosky.
“I had looked up vintage tennis posters and saw a bunch of old Wimbledon-style posters that I thought were really cool,” she said. “I showed those to her and she just ran with it from there.”
When Kessel saw Sokolosky’s finished product, she thought it was perfect. She loved the design of the players and the yellow-green that makes up most of the poster’s background. When Kim Issac, one of the tournament’s directors along with husband Rory, showed the poster to Eddy, he pretty much had the same reaction.
“Kim sent it to me as an attachment, and when I opened it, quite literally, I was blown away,” he said. “It was a fantastic depiction that captured the spirit of the 60th Public Courts tournament. It’s something unique. I think the players will be absolutely pleased.”
It meant something to Kessel to get the poster right. A former standout athlete at Ripley High School and Marshall University volleyball player, Kessel is a tennis player herself and won the 4.5 women’s doubles bracket at the 2017 Public Courts tournament. It wasn’t just a professional project for her. It was personal.
“The Charleston tennis community is really important to me,” she said. “It’s helped me a lot personally and professionally. It means a lot to me to help support the community and keep growing enthusiasm.
“I have a lot of friends in the tennis community here,” she added. “That was part of why I wanted to move back to Charleston. It’s really just a tight-knit community. I want to make sure that stays and grows in the future.”
What makes both Eddy and Kessel happy is that this way to honor the 60th tournament was a product of local people and local talent. A Charleston business worked with the Charleston CVB to add something extra to a tennis tournament that has been a part of the city for six decades.
“It captured the spirit of Public Courts,” Eddy said. “We’ve always said that Public Courts is about community. It’s about bringing the community together, whether you’re a player or spectator or a parent or a vendor. Now we’re actually working with the community to promote it even more. It’s satisfying to see this is the fruition of the time we’ve spent developing the tournament.”
The Public Courts tournament begins Friday evening at the Schoenbaum courts in Kanawha City. An opening ceremony begins at 6:15 p.m.