Wake Forest tennis fans are already familiar with Emilee Malvehy and Jonathan Wolff.
Malvehy recently completed her senior season with the Deacons’ women’s team, and Wolff finished up a stellar career with the Deacons’ men’s team.
Now, the two are about to make names for themselves as part of the Winston-Salem Open staff. Malvehy is serving an internship in communications and media relations, and Wolff is serving as an intern dealing with sponsor services.
They bring a passion for tennis and an enthusiasm for the job that is infectious.
Neither could have imagined that Winston-Salem would land an ATP World Tour event when they arrived on campus four years ago, so they are definitely in the right place at the right time.
"We’re having so much fun," Malvehy said. "It’s great being part of this, to be on the back part of things and see what it takes to put on a big sporting event. It’s just amazing that Winston-Salem has a tournament. You look at the list of ATP tournaments and they’re all in major cities. London, New York, major cities. So to see Winston-Salem on the list is great, absolutely great."
Malvehy, from Auburn, Calif., compiled a 16-12 singles record as a senior, playing mostly at No. 3. She teamed with Martina Pavelec to go 12-4 in doubles, usually at No. 2. She had 18 singles victories as a junior.
She enjoyed a stellar career in juniors, reaching as high as No. 3 nationally in girls 16 doubles with partner Christina Yee. She reached No. 50 nationally in girls 18 singles.
Malvehy graduated this spring with a degree in Communications, then sought out WSO tournament director Bill Oakes about landing an internship.
"I know everyone is saying this nowadays, but I have felt for some time that I wanted to work in sports," Malvehy said. "Of course tennis has always been a huge part of my life. I really love the sport and love being part of it. So when I heard of an opportunity like this, I thought I would give it a shot and talk to Bill and see if there was anything, and we worked something out.
"I know I am very lucky to be here because it’s not easy getting a job in sports. It is so competitive. Everyone wants to do that. If I didn’t have this job lined up, I might not even be able to be in sports."
Malvehy says she loves to travel, and since her father is from Spain, she has an affinity for all things Spanish – including Rafael Nadal.
Wolff, from Sarasota, Fla., was an All-ACC selection this season. He went 21-18 in singles, splitting time between No. 1 and No. 2, and finished his Wake Forest career with 86 singles victories. That ties him on the all-time singles wins list with Steven Forman. He went 28-5 as a sophomore, playing primarily at No. 3.
At Sarasota High School, he was the Florida state 6A singles champion.
He’s proud of his path so far.
"I actually started playing tennis late," he said. "I picked up soccer before I got involved in tennis. But my parents were always involved in tennis. I started playing competitively when I was 11 or 12, and then I put a lot of other things aside and pursued it and it became a passion from there. My goal at that point was to get a college scholarship and put myself in the best opportunity to go to a good school with good academics. Wake Forest was a really good fit. I have no regrets. It’s been a really good experience."
Wolff majored in Psychology, and at one time planned to pursue a career as a sports psychologist.
Lately, though, he has been more intrigued by the business side of sports and now hopes to eventually go to graduate school for Business and Sports Management.
That makes working with corporate sponsors at the WSO the perfect job for now.
"I’ve always wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at a tournament, because I’ve played a lot of tournaments and stuff but I could never go behind the scenes and see how it all operates and what all they do," Wolff said. "Just seeing that whole experience is eye-opening. Hopefully I can get experience and use it down the road. So far, it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of connections, so it’s really good."
Wolff, like Malvehy, is still soaking up the reality that Winston-Salem has an ATP event.
"I couldn’t believe it at first," he said. "But at the same time, I’ve known the city, the partners and the sponsors had the potential to bring a tournament here because of all the success with the Davis Cup. This is so great. I’ve been to the U.S. Open, I’ve been to the NASDAQ, I’ve been to big tournaments and they’re usually in big cities. So I was really happy for the Wake Forest program and for the city itself that it’s been able to attract this tournament."