Tennis great makes a surprise visit to 300 York alumni

York’s annual alumni event at the Rogers Cup got a boost of star power last Tuesday night when Carling Basset-Seguso, Canada’s highest-ranked women’s tennis champion in history, paid a visit. Her appearance, announced only the day before, came as a delightful surprise to most of those attending. She graciously posed for pictures with alumni and friends at the reception, held on the Coronaville Patio before the evening matches on Centre Court.

Right: From left, York alumna Linda Turner (MBA ‘84), tennis star Carling Bassett-Seguso (second from left), Linda’s husband Lorne Turner and alumnus Kevin Rachman (BA ‘93)

"Basset-Seguso’s visit was one of the highlights of the evening. We had our highest turnout yet for this event and it was great to see so many grads enjoying themselves on campus,” said James Allan, director, alumni.

Alumni Office staff welcomed more than 300 guests at the reception, where people had a chance to mingle, enjoy complimentary food and drink, and pick up alumni caps or visors so they could show their York pride at the matches. Alumni from as far away as Ottawa turned out for the reception, and the group included class years ranging from the late 1960s through to 2007. 

Left: More than 300 guests enjoyed the reception at the Coronaville Patio

Alumni also had the chance to watch the York University Cheerleading Team, who performed their impressive acrobatics, lifts, and throws in front of the Coronaville patio.

“We were really pleased with the numbers this year. With a new promotion strategy that included YorkU magazine, e-mail and direct mail, attendance at the reception was more than double that of last year’s event. We were able to provide York Day discounts to over 450 alumni, a 50 per cent jump over last year’s sales,” said Allan.

Right: York’s cheerleading team demonstrates their expertise

 “I think this proves that with the right draw and promotions we can bring alumni back to visit the Keele campus,” he added.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri attended the event along with President Emerita Lorna R. Marsden. Also in attendance were Naguib Gouda, executive director of York’s Alumni & Advancement Services, and Guy Burry, chair of the York University Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The Alumni Office capped the reception with a door prize draw for some “York swag” including How to be a Canadian by alumnus Will Ferguson, the feature film The Notebook starring alumna Rachel McAdams, and a York Alumni T-shirt.

During the evening play at Centre Court, grads were treated to a 7:30pm match between Women’s Tennis Association fifth-ranked player Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and 53rd-ranked Roberta Vinci from Italy. The second match of the evening featured Canadian players Marie-Eve Pelletier and Ekaterina Shulaeva, with Pelletier advancing to the third round of the tournament.

Left: They came all the way from Ottawa. York alumnus Kenneth Steegstra (BA ‘79) (left) and wife Glynn Steegstra enjoy the alumni reception with York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri.

"It was great to see so many York Alumni caps and visors in the stadium. The Rogers Cup tournament gives alumni a chance to come back to campus to celebrate their connection to York and watch some of the best tennis players in the world," said Allan. “It’s already one of the biggest alumni events of the year and we plan to make it even bigger and better next year.”

Right: Alumni Alicja Wiktor (BA ’06, BEd ’07) and brother Jakub Wiktor (BBA ’04) at the York Alumni Reception at the Rogers Cup

The Rogers Cup tournament, also known as the Canadian Open, is the oldest ongoing tournament after Wimbledon and the US Open. The 2007 Rogers Cup in Toronto gave out US $1.325 million in prize money.

Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters are all multiple winners of the tournament, which alternates annually between Toronto and Montreal. Faye Urban Mlacak is the last Canadian to have won the singles title, and she captured both the singles and doubles (with Vicki Berner) championships in 1969.