It’s hard to believe it has been 12 years since I first designed and created the Rogers Cup “Excalibur” crystal tennis racquet trophy. The task of creating an icon with instantaneous impact with the public involves consideration of both the sponsor and the way in which they wish to be perceived, but also the longevity of the sponsorship as the trophy needs to be timeless in design, identifiable and resonate with the public in order to build awareness and continuity. The use of the optical crystal material symbolized the vision, excellence and clarity of thinking required in both the players’ skill and dexterity on court, but also in the reflective qualities of Rogers Communications, as man-made crystal is responsible for most of our global advances technologically in cellular communications, thanks to the science of prismatic light.
When Stacey Allaster, (Tennis Canada’s, Director of Marketing at the time, and now President & CEO, of the WTA Tour) first commissioned the trophy. it was known as the Rogers AT&T Cup (changing to the Rogers Cup in 2003) and the mandate I was given by Stacey was to create a contemporary new-age trophy, designed with the utmost craftsmanship unique to the Canadian tournament. As a keen tennis player myself, it was a dream assignment, and I will be forever grateful for the vision and support Stacey provided during the commissioning of the “Excalibur” trophy for the tournament.
Stacey’s mandate was to create a cutting edge design which allowed me to move away from the more familiar country club tennis trophy and the shackles of traditionalism. Initially, I presented nine designs, each one focused on the corporate vision of Rogers Communications, with the hope of creating a revolving trophy that would use the refractive properties of the crystal, while mirroring a new era in women’s tennis with the high- tech world of the communications industry, creating a synergy of science with art.
This design process took several weeks of computer generated refinements as there were still two options being considered, until eventually the retractable 6-pound optical crystal tennis racquet was chosen by Tennis Canada. The idea was that the crystal racquet embedded within the crystal and blue faux-granite base allowed the Champion each year to theatrically crown themselves Queen of tennis in Canada. It was inspired by the myth of King Arthur, who pulled the sword of “Excalibur” from the stone. Since 2001, all of Canada’s Champions have released the crystal racquet and lifted it in celebration.
Weighing 45 pounds overall, the Rogers Cup trophy is made of the same optical crystal used in telescope lenses and required a great deal of design engineering as the racquet is made of four independent pieces. Each year,smaller replica versions of the trophy are presented to the Champions and Finalists.
Before I began the design process, I considered some of the world’s most “iconic” international sports trophies such as the Stanley Cup, (Silver Cup) British Open golf tournament, (the Claret Jug) Wimbledon Men’s Trophy, (All England Tennis Club Gold Cup) Green Jacket, (The Masters) FIFA World Cup Trophy, (Gold Cup) and Super Bowl. (Silver Sculpture). All of these trophies have been won by the world’s best athletes over many years, creating their own storied histories and legacy. My aim with the Rogers Cup was to create a symbolic trophy which Rogers Communications would feel proud to present to the world’s top tennis players, and the hope that this contemporary icon might one day become synonymous with Canadian tennis itself.
“The response from sponsors and the media has been overwhelmingly positive. Tennis Canada was fortunate in working with Mark who shares our passion for excellence and the sport. He has truly created a unique showpiece for the Rogers Cup which was distinctive and leading edge. When you look at the precision required and understand he can’t make a mistake with the design because of the material, it’s more than we ever imagined,” commented Stacey Allaster, former Tournament Director, Rogers Cup, who is currently President, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Rogers Cup Facts:
• Started in 1892 for women – the Rogers Cup used to be the Canadian Open.
• Only the US Open and Wimbledon have longer histories.
• There has been a total of 123 women Champions.
Recent winner’s include:
2012: Petra Kvitova
2011: Serena Williams
2010: Caroline Wozniacki
2009: Elena Dementieva
2008: Dinara Safina
2007 Justin Henin
First ever women’s winner: Maude Osborne 1892-1894