By Mario Sarmento
You may not recognize Andrew Krasny by name, but you will certainly know his voice. He’s the one who introduces the players before each Stadium Court match, he’s the first person to greet Serena Williams after yet another Key Biscayne victory, and he’s the first to talk with Novak Djokovic about his latest masterpiece.
Krasny has been the emcee at the Sony Open Tennis tournament since 2007, bringing fans the first thoughts of some of the best players in the game, in the moment as soon as their match ends. In that time, he has become the voice of the Sony Open.
His job, he feels, is a simple one: “To represent the fans watching at home, and the fans in the stadium, and ask what they want to know after watching that match,” he said.
“What I try and teach people who want to work with me and try and do what I do is, every match writes itself,” says Andrew Krasny.
How Krasny even got here is a story in itself, as he began his career answering fan mail for comedic icon Joan Rivers while he was in college. It’s a relationship that’s lasted more than 30 years, and he calls Rivers a “second mom to me. She’s taught me never to say no to a job, never close a door. She’s taught me a great deal about my career.”
Krasny worked in the entertainment industry in various positions, most often as a producer, where he was nominated for an Emmy for “The Martin Short Show.” But he’s also tried his hand as a performer, hosting a dating show called “Crush” and serving as a warm-up act for several TV shows, before he finally found his calling at a tennis tournament at UCLA.
While Krasny was watching the action, he couldn’t stop thinking about the older man who was introducing the players, and how he thought he could add something different. When the tournament ended, Krasny asked a friend who worked at the event if he could try his hand at hosting, and a career was born.
What started as a hobby has become Krasny’s lifelong passion. He now calls most of the tournaments in the United States, including the Indian Wells, San Diego, Charleston, Cincinnati, Stanford, and the U.S. Open. In addition, Krasny will be hosting the year-end WTA Championships in Singapore, as well as international tournaments in Doha and Istanbul.
Krasny knew he was on the right track with his style when he was approached by former WTA star Mary Pierce after a tournament.
“She said, ‘Andrew, you’re really good at what you do, and no one’s ever done it the way you do it,’” he said. “That was the first time I felt like a player noticed what I was doing.”
During his emcee career, Krasny has developed relationships, and even friendships, with many of the players on both tours. But he makes it clear that while a match is being played, he is decidedly neutral. Off the court, though, is a different story, particularly with one of his favorite people, the No. 1-ranked Williams.
“Socially, and outside of tennis, I’m a huge fan of hers, and admire her tremendously,” Krasny said. “We have a very fun and sarcastic relationship. And if I make a mistake on television, Serena Williams is one of the first to send me an e-mail or a text message making fun of me. And I deserve it, I’m very sarcastic. If I dish it out, I’ve got to take it.”
Krasny said his post-match goal is to make every player he talks with laugh, but some are easier than others.
“Easiest person to get to laugh hands down is Serena Williams on the women’s side,” he said. “And the men’s side, I would have to say that the biggest laugh I’ve ever gotten was out of Roger Federer in Cincinnati during Kiss Cam, because I’m one of the only guys who talks through Kiss Cam, and Roger cracked up, and I went home the happiest guy in the world.”
And the toughest?
“Not easy to get Victoria Azarenka to laugh when she’s in game mode,” he said. “When she’s not in game mode, very easy to make laugh. On the men’s side, tough to get Tomas Berdych to laugh. He’s a very serious guy. Lovely gentleman, but tough to get to laugh.”
Krasny estimates he travels up to 20 weeks per year, and his secret to asking post-match questions is a simple one:
“What I try and teach people who want to work with me and try and do what I do is, every match writes itself,” he said. “And if you pay attention in a match, and let’s say a match is 6-0, 6-0, then your question is about how fast you won and how easy it was to win. If a match goes three sets, how did you pull it out?”
Krasny has no intention of giving up his emcee duties, but he joked that when he does, it will be when “I can’t walk up and down the stadiums any more. I love it, and at the end of the day, if I can enhance the fan experience, then I feel I’ve won the lottery.”