SEGOVIA, July 23, 2020
The Open Castilla y Leon ATP Challenger hard-court event has been held annually at the Villa de El Espinar in El Espinar, Segovia Province, Spain since 1986. An ITF women’s event was added to the tournament in 2015. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Former Spanish former professional Virginia Ruano Pascual has been the tournament director of the combined event since 2010. The 46-year-old from Madrid had moderate success in singles, winning three WTA career titles and reaching two Grand Slam quarterfinals and a top-30 ranking, but she had been far more successful in doubles where she captured 43 titles, including 11 Grand Slam trophies.
An interview with Ruano Pascual was published in the latest edition of the tournament’s newsletter.
Question: As the tournament director, how did you experience the suspension of this year’s event?
Ruano Pascual: In the end, it was a decision that was up to the ATP and the ITF. Tennis is a global sport, played worldwide with people moving across five continents. We all want tennis to resume but we must admit that it is complicated. We are facing a pandemic that, of course, fully affects a global sport such as tennis.
What was the reaction of the public institutions that support the Castilla y Leon Villa de El Espinar Open?
Both the Junta de Castilla y León and the El Espinar City Council or the Provincial Council have always been very understanding of the situation we have experienced. We have been in close contact through online communication platforms throughout this time. The suspension of the tournament was a hard blow for them, too.
At this year’s edition you would have celebrated your 10th year as the tournament director. A sad anniversary …
Yes, it is and it concerns me. My work as tournament director of the Open Castilla y León Villa de El Espinar has never been easy. I finished my professional tennis career in 2010, just about when the great economic crisis that we experienced in those years began. Ten years later, this pandemic has arrived and without any doubt it will bring another economic crisis with its dimensions yet to be seen.
In your first years as a tournament director, how did you cope with this new challenge?
At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed due to the history and importance of the tournament. The fact of taking over an event declared as the best ATP Challenger in the World in 2009 was a very big responsibility because everyone hoped that we could raise that level, but the crisis began and that forced us to change the pace, and more than thinking about improving we had to adapt everything to save the tournament. Ten years later, I can say that we have saved it and we have also been able to grow. Despite the economic crisis or the loss of sponsors, today I can say that we are stronger.
What has been the best moment you have experienced as a director in these ten years?
There have been many, but a great moment was the victory of Pablo Carreno. Later he became a top 10 player. It’s great to follow the rise of young players.
A lot of great players won at El Espianr. Is that one of the hallmarks of the tournament?
Yes, it is. Our record is spectacular, hardly comparable. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Fernando Verdasco, Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Feliciano Lopez, Sergi Bruguera, Pablo Carreno are among the champions. The fans who have been following the tournament for years have met the best players in the world in the first place.
What are the challenges for the future?
The challenge is to return in 2021 as if the tournament had been played in 2020. Many times it is very complicated to re-launch a tournament after one year hiatus.