You might not know the name Andrew Krasny, but trust me, you know his voice.
He’s the guy introducing the players before they come on court, the guy talking to them directly after they win their match, and the guy presenting them their trophy at the end of the tournament. In short, he’s everywhere. A couple of weeks ago during a Charleston rain delay, the tennis emcee/everyman was nice enough to sit down with me and tell me all about his rather miraculous transition from tennis fanatic to tennis insider.
It all started when he was sitting in the stands at the ATP tournament in Los Angeles about 10 years ago. A huge tennis fan and league player at the time, Krasny was thrilled to watch players such as Sampras, Agassi, and Safin up close. However, he noticed that the on-court announcer was a guy in his late eighties who could hardly step down from his podium, let alone comfortably engage the crowd. Because of his background as a warmup act for studio audiences and a producer for the likes of Joan Rivers and Martin Short, Krasny sensed an opportunity.
The next year he volunteered to emcee on the Grandstand court at the Countrywide Classic, which seats about 1,000 people. He did the gig for free, working only for the the tennis clothes, the chance to talk to the top players, and the pipe dream of actually turning this into a career. It worked. In the years since he’s emceed the WTA Championships, worked as a sideline reporter for the Tennis Channel, hosted WTA All Access Hour, DJed the changeovers at Indian Wells with his iPod, and made everyone from Roger Federer to Serena Williams laugh in his post-match interviews.
He can still clearly remember the moment he realized he had made his career dreams come true. While eating dinner one night as a match he had worked for Tennis Channel aired on tape delay, he received a text from Lindsay Davenport saying, “Who am I seeing on TV right now, is it really you? Congratulations!”
“I got the text and I started crying,” Krasny recalled.
Of course, just because he’s successful doesn’t mean he’s always perfect. “I make about one mistake a year,” he confessed. “I’ve said Novak Djokovic was from Belgium, not Belgrade. I’ve called Ana Ivanovic, ‘Jelena Jankovic’ before. We all make mistakes, I think it’s how we get out of mistakes that shows our character.”
One time early on in his career when he was introducing a Serena match, he made what he considers a “green” mistake and highlighted her opponent’s defeat of Venus at Wimbledon during the introductions. “I got a real glare from Serena when I said that,” he laughed. “After the match Serena told me, ‘Yeah, I heard that.’ I wanted to make it up to her, so I asked, ‘What do you love?’ She said she loved teddy bears, so I bought her a teddy bear. From that moment on we’ve had such a fun, unique relationship.”
That relationship includes a lot of good-natured teasing. A few weeks ago in Miami he was interviewing Ana Ivanovic after her win over Svetlana Kuznetsova in a night match. Before heading out to the court, he had seen the OOP for the next day on the video wall, which listed the potential opponents for the winner of Ivanovic/Kuznetsova. He misread it and thought it meant they were playing doubles together. “I went out to interview Ivanovic, who’s a very dear friend both inside of work and outside of work, and I asked her what it’s like to play her doubles opponent on national television.” Ivanovic corrected him with a laugh, but not everyone went so easy on him. “Not before I got off the court there’s three e-mails to me from Serena saying, ‘Hahaha, I’m playing doubles with Andy Murray tomorrow at 5:45, be sure to tell the crowd.'”
A true perfectionist, Krasny always fears the worst when he makes a mistake. “I always wonder, if I make a mistake and they lose the match, will I have caused that loss? It’s a very irrational fear, but it’s a real fear. Thank God every time I’ve made a mistake they’ve won.”
While he doesn’t have a go-to questions for post-match interviews, preferring to let the match tell the story, Krasny does have a goal: to make the player laugh. “With the women, I can break them down with humor a bit easier than I can with guys. I laugh a lot with all of them, but I have more fun with the women. Well, it’s almost equal. Rafa’s extremely affectionate with me, extremely loving, and extremely generous … he’s just the nicest, sweetest guy in the entire world.”
“There’s a lot of people who love tennis as much as I do, but I’m not sure there’s anyone who loves tennis more than I do … I can’t believe that 15 years ago I was a nerd watching Lindsay win Wimbledon, getting emotional, watching Serena beat Venus, getting emotional. Now I get to paid to work with them.”
“I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
(All pictures c/o Andrew Krasny.)