If you’re looking for a security guard to protect the biggest celebrities in women’s tennis, you call Devon Flash.
During the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, he can usually be spotted somewhere near Serena or Venus Williams or another high-profile personality, with his eyes scanning the crowd, watching, and looking for any potential threats. Known in the industry by his superhero last name, the 24-year veteran doesn’t wear a cape but he’s ready to swoop in and intercede when needed.
“When I’ve had to interact with somebody really quick, I feel like a little bit of a superhero,” laughed Flash. “When people ask about the name, I let them know it’s my birthright. They’ve heard about the TV show Flash Gordon, or The Flash but I let them know that I’m the original. I say it’s my birthright.”
In his fourth year with the tournament, Flash is a familiar face to many of the top stars. Upon arrival each morning, he’s given his assignment for the day, providing security for celebrity competitors as they move through the building, practice courts, media engagements, public appearances, competition or just relaxing. Over the years he’s built a great relationship within the security industry and with tournament executives.
Working security is not a physical job, unless of course it has to be explains Flash. The 6’3” veteran stays in shape lifting weights and doing cardio on a regular basis. He’s also trained in martial arts specializing in traditional Chinese kung fu, with the ability to engage quickly to disarm if necessary. At the National Bank Open, presented by Rogers where fans come to #FeelTennis, the vibe is friendly and welcoming. So is Flash.
“I take my job one grain of salt at a time,” said Flash. “I apply what I need to apply and pull back when I need to pull back. I give respect as much as I get. That’s all people want is to be respected. Being here gives me a sense of pleasure and joy because it’s an atmosphere where everybody has a good positive energy. I try to give off that same energy.”
Before a client enters a building, Flash and other security personnel will go in and assess the situation, making the proper introductions, identifying exits, bathroom locations, and scanning the room for any threats. He takes a mental note of where people are placed and other key details. Once the client comes in, he stays aware ofwho and what is around.If there’s ever a situation where he has to remove a client, he stays ready to take them somewhere safe.
There’s a constant alertness necessary to do the job and Flash admits it is often hard to turn off. Even when relaxing with family and friends at times he can be a bit hypervigilant, he says.
“When you’re out in public as security you’re always keeping your head on a swivel,” said Flash. “That’s just what the job entails. If you’re doing it long enough, it almost becomes second nature where you don’t even realize that is what you’re doing. It becomes the norm.”
Outside of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, Flash provides protection for other top sports figures, personalities and executive heads. He’s even been invited to travel on vacation with high profile individuals, as a “friend of the family” on duty to provide that extra sense of safety.
With Flash, there’s no name dropping.
During the tournament, Flash and the other security personnel are perhaps the only people who don’t have their eyes on the match. They are there to make sure things stay copasetic and are ready to de-escalate any situation where necessary. So far in this tournament, thankfully, there’s been nothing crazy. Mostly they are another friendly face at the tournament, providing helpful assistance to fans, staff or volunteers whenever needed.
As for Flash, he’s been able to witness a lot of excited fans, some unfamiliar with tennis etiquette, but still making beautiful moments he’s happy to be a part of.
“There’s been some people in the stands yelling and being supportive of their person at the last moment when they were about to serve,” smiled Flash. “Then you hear the player turn around and say something to that person and everybody starts laughing. Those are kind of the cute things that go on, but nothing detrimental.
“Tennis Canada has provided the proper security where it makes everybody feel safe, whether from participant patrons to staff, they pick the right people to do the jobs.”