Appointed CEO of Tennis SA in late 2019 and the General Manager of the Adelaide International, it is fair to say Debbie Sterrey keeps very busy.
In a recent chat with The First Serve, we learnt that Sterrey counts herself extremely lucky to be working in a sport that has given her so much.
Sterrey previously represented the State and played Pennant tennis as well as coached from her youth through to her early 20’s.
With over 35 years of experience in banking and finance, Sterrey initially accepted a role on the Board for Tennis SA after she was invited to join.
When the CEO role at Tennis SA became available, she was encouraged to apply so she lodged an application and was successful.
Sterrey started in November 2019 and said she wanted to give back to the game whilst bringing that business acumen from being an Executive in the financial industry.
Three years into the role, she says it is the best decision she could have made.
“I love the role and seeing more players getting out there and having a hit and just coming back to a sport that I love is really rewarding,” Sterrey said.
“Every day is a joy and doesn’t feel like I am working in the role.
“I do wear two hats and from the CEO point of view heading up tennis in SA and the growth of the sport, I do have an amazing team across various departments and this makes my role so much easier.
“It’s important to continue to grow the sport from a grassroots level.”
Sterrey said whilst there was a lot of hard work and responsibility with the General Manager role of the Adelaide International as well it was a rewarding experience.
“It’s more operational and I am responsible for the day to day running and scheduling of the tournament,” Sterrey said.
“I work closely with the Tournament Director with scheduling and the day to day running to make it all run smoothly.
“It’s very busy especially around the tournament time but when it’s all over and we get to sit back and share our success in putting together a great tournament it’s very rewarding.
“I have a great team and they do an amazing job and the feedback from everyone about the tournament is always really positive.”
Sterrey said tennis in SA was in a good position with participation numbers on the rise and the recent Memorial Drive redevelopments nearing completion.
“It is very exciting and just standing there today and seeing the facility come together is fantastic,” Sterrey reflected.
“The project has been amazing and a great team effort, we are just putting on the finishing touches as we speak and it is great for South Australia.
“Construction has been going for six years now which has been challenging at times but so exciting having an entertainment hub that everyone can enjoy and world class major tennis events here in our State.
“Our team numbers grew over that Covid period, younger players being up close and personal like Adelaide International will only increase the participation.
“Tennis SA is in a great place and with the redevelopments that have happened it will only continue to go forward.”
Sterrey said the team was excited about having the Adelaide International back.
“We are thrilled to have the Adelaide International returning for two weeks once again from January 1 to 14,” Sterrey commented.
“It’s fast becoming the favourite tournament of a number of players and the players love to come to Australia and Adelaide.
“It’s great to see people coming to Adelaide and booking accommodation in this great city.”
Sterrey said they were excited about having last January's champions Thanasi Kokkinakis and Madison Keys back to defend their titles as well as Andy Murray, Jannik Sinner, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova all lined up with more big names for the two weeks to be announced.