Djokovic leaves Sergio Tacchini, will sign with Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has ended his clothing sponsor with Sergio Tacchini reports Danielle Rossingh of Bloomberg. Serbian publication TANJUG report that Djokovic will be the new face of UNIQLO, which is a Japanese clothing brand, which also sponsors Japan’s top ranked ATP player Kei Nishikori. A sponsorship deal will be signed in Paris. The reigning Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion will wear t-shirts with the UNIQLO logo starting at the 2012 French Open, which is set to begin Sunday. UNIQLO, a subsidiary of Fast Retailing Company, is the strongest brand in Japan, but also a business giant on a global level, whose apparel was worn by Japan’s Olympic athletes in the 1988, 2002 and 2004 Olympic Games. They have 99 stores in Tokyo, 840 throughout Japan and 200 stores around the world. One of their most exclusive stores in the world is located in New York City on Fifth Avenue. Djokovic originally signed a 10-year apparel deal with Sergio Tacchini in 2009.
Tennis Channel to offer over 140 hours of French Open coverage starting May 27
Tennis Channel will offer close to 60 hours of live coverage and more than 140 match hours overall during the upcoming French Open in Paris, running from Sunday May 27 to Sunday, June 10. The network will air almost two dozen hours of encore men’s and women’s singles semifinal and championship telecasts as part of a programming format that will see the channel’s 24-hour schedule almost entirely dedicated to the world’s most prestigious clay-court competition for two weeks. A typical day’s French Open schedule on Tennis Channel this year will feature live matches from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET, followed by four hours of encore coverage of the tournament’s best competitions, regardless of whether they first ran on Tennis Channel or broadcast partners NBC or ESPN2. At 7 p.m. ET French Open Tonight, hosted by Bill Macatee, will showcase three hours of interviews, analysis, highlights, encore match segments and special reports, set on a stage above the tournament’s central Musketeer Plaza. In all, Tennis Channel will air 36 first-run hours of the nightly prime-time show (with 114 hours overall). Following two consecutive French Open Tonight encores, at 4 a.m. ET daily tournament highlights of the French Tennis Federation (the governing body of the event) will run for an hour before a new day of coverage runs on ESPN2 from 5 a.m.-10 a.m. This year’s on-air talent includes John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson, Ian Eagle, Brett Haber and Macatee.
WTA Tour Challenger Series to debut in Taiwan
Officials at the WTA Tour announced a brand new series of Challenger tournaments, the WTA Challenger Series, which will provide for emerging markets currently not able to host a Premier or International event to a host a WTA Challenger event and showcase women’s tennis. The WTA Challenger Series will offer some of the WTA’s lower-ranked players who are eager to play more matches and tournaments, and whose seasons end earlier than the WTA’s elite players, an opportunity to play extra tournaments and earn more ranking points. With total prize money of $125,000 and 160 ranking points for the champion, WTA Challengers will be one level above top-tier ITF Women’s Circuit events, which offer $100,000 and 150 ranking points. The first Challenger event scheduled will be The OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open, which will be played from October 27-November 4 in Taipei, Taiwan. It will be the first WTA Challenger event in the region and is set to take place in 2012 and 2013, held in the 15,000-seat Taipei Arena with 32/16/16 draw sizes. “We are delighted that the first WTA Challenger will be hosted in Taipei, fueling the growth of the sport in the Asia-Pacific territory even further,” said Peter Johnston, WTA’s Managing Director of Asia-Pacific. “There is a growing appetite for women’s tennis throughout the region and we couldn’t have asked for a better city and venue to be hosting our first WTA Challenger with a great stadium, a fantastic promoter and to the enthusiastic fans in Chinese Taipei.” For more information on the WTA Challenger Series, visit www.WTATour.com.
Search launches for next WTA Championships host
According to an article written by Matt Cutler in Sports Business, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has launched an international tender process to select the host city for its showpiece WTA Championships for 2014 and beyond. The end-of-year event features the top eight singles players and leading four doubles partnership competing for a share of the multi-million dollar prize pot before a global television audience of 164 countries. The WTA Championships have previously taken place in New York, Los Angeles, Munich, Madrid and Doha before arriving in Istanbul in 2011 for the first of installment of a three-year run in the Turkish capital. The 2011 Championships registered the highest attendance in 12 years, and set record broadcast and digital audience milestones. The WTA has chosen London-based international sports marketing agency The Sports Consultancy to manage the Championships bid process, which will commence with requests for expression of interest sent to prospective host cities that are required to respond by June 29. A final decision on the new host city is expected to be made in March 2013. “The WTA Championships has gone from strength to strength over the past four decades, and is today recognized as one of a handful of truly blue chip international events on the world sporting calendar,” said Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the WTA. “Based on the significant demand by numerous cities around the world to invest in women’s tennis and host our year-end WTA Championships, we decided to launch an international bidding process to select a host city for 2014 and beyond.” Allaster added: “It’s a chance for some city somewhere to step up on the world stage. We are confident that through this process we will be able to identify the right city to become the next partner for the world’s premier sporting event for women.”
Nintendo partners with the USTA in its SmashZone Mobile Tour
Late last week, the USTA announced that Nintendo has signed on as an official sponsor of the SmashZone Mobile Tour, the interactive tennis fan attraction which introduces children to tennis in a fun and engaging way. As part of the agreement, Nintendo, the worldwide pioneer in the creation of interactive entertainment, will incorporate video game kiosks into the SmashZone experience throughout the duration of the tour. The partnership will launch at the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, Calif., on May 19-20. This year’s SmashZone Mobile Tour will serve as a launching pad for Mario Tennis Open for the Nintendo 3DS hand-held system. Mario Tennis Open, a fun, portable tennis game that can be played in 3D without the need for special glasses, is scheduled for release everywhere on May 20, and this partnership provides an opportunity for an integrated fan experience where audiences can demo the new game. SmashZone Mobile includes a 53-foot trailer, which anchors four kid-sized tennis courts for youth play. Courts feature games such as Xerox Rally Courts, Esurance Sweet Spot and Target Challenge. The trailer itself, which is handicap accessible, features interactive activities for visitors, including a TENNIS Magazine Green Screen Cover Shoot and touch screen kiosks. The Nintendo video game kiosks will be located in the game room of the trailer. Additionally, Nintendo brand ambassadors will be on site to provide hands-on demonstrations of Mario Tennis Open on the youth tennis courts. “Video games can serve as a gateway to help get kids interested in real-life sports and activities,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Mario Tennis Open features all their favorite Nintendo characters, and fast-paced tennis action that people will have fun experiencing.” Nintendo will also be an official sponsor of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess, which will take place on August 25 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
Tennis Industry Association set to release State of the Industry Report
According to a press release, The Tennis Industry Association (TIA) is set to release its second annual “State of the Industry” report, which compiles key research from the trade association’s dozens of in-depth annual research studies and surveys into a top-line document that helps to “narrate the story of the tennis industry” for the past year. Key findings include data on the value of the overall tennis economy, participation and play frequency trends, equipment sales, and pro events. Among the findings is the overall value of the total tennis economy in 2011, estimated to be $5.4 billion, down slightly from $5.6 billion in 2010. Components that help make up the total tennis economy figure include player participation data, equipment sales, facility revenue, lesson revenue, media revenue and TV coverage, and pro tour sponsor and spectator revenue. “Like every other industry, the tennis industry has faced a series of challenges over the past few years due to the overall economy and consumers continuing to evaluate their discretionary spending,” said TIA President Jon Muir. “While these challenges continued through 2011, we are seeing signs that change and growth are ahead. Wholesale tennis equipment shipments increased significantly in the first quarter of 2012 compared to Q1 last year in several categories, combined with positive anecdotal evidence of an increase in frequent play and total play occasions so far in 2012.” “The number of frequent players declined in 2009 and 2010, but in 2011, that slide stopped,” adds Muir. “Frequent players account for more than 70% of tennis expenditures. Our goal as an industry is to increase the number of frequent players to 10 million by 2020, which would add about $3.9 billion to the tennis economy.” In 2010 and 2011, says Muir, the TIA has been very focused on establishing clearer strategic platforms and increasing support and focus in several areas to achieve future growth and to help plug the “leaky bucket” – while the industry brought in nearly 6.9 million new players in 2011, that increase was offset by players leaving the game. A critical building block for the sport is the U.S. Tennis Association’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative, which is hitting consumers in full force in 2012, including through a partnership with the Nickelodeon television network that is reaching millions of kids and their parents. The TIA is playing a key role in helping to drive 10 and Under Tennis opportunities for retailers, facilities and manufacturers. “Last year seemed to mark a turning point in several respects, as key initiatives and goals were rolled out or ramped up,” said TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “Some growth is reflected in our 2011 State of the Industry report, and as we continue to monitor this industry through our comprehensive research and data collection, we look to see more signs of an upturn.” “The State of the Industry report takes a comprehensive view of a variety of trends and segments in the industry and condenses it overall to show how interconnected this industry is,” de Boer continues. The second edition synthesizes the trade association’s more than 70 annual research studies and surveys into a 16-page top-line document. The report presents key tennis industry trends and analysis including in the areas of economy and tennis, demand, supply and media/pro events.
USTA Florida renames USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Championships after Bobby Curtis
Starting this June, the USTA Florida Jr. State Closed Championships will be known as the USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships. The tournament is being named after the legendary junior tennis organizer. Curtis helped guide tennis stars from Florida to much success including Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Brian Gottfried, Jay Berger, Mary Joe Fernandez and Chris Evert as they competed in USTA Florida tournaments. “Bobby Curtis really has been junior tennis in Florida, ever since I’ve been alive,” said the former world No. 1 Courier. “If you’re at a tennis tournament and Bobby’s there, you know you’re in the right place. He really does signify what’s good and true about tennis in Florida. He does it for all the right reasons – he cares about the kids, he cares about the sport, and he’s always ensuring that the whole of junior tennis is successful.” Curtis was the USTA Florida’s first employee, working out of his home. He was one of the initial organizers of the Florida Section’s top junior event, which at that time had no entry fee – participants only had to bring one can of new balls. “In December I learned the (USTA Florida) Junior Council had voted to name the Jr. State Closed singles and doubles after me, and Doug Booth (USTA Florida Executive Director) announced it at the annual meeting, and I almost fell over my feet,” said Curtis. “It was pretty neat, and it’s a real honor for me.” Curtis continues to be involved with the USTA Florida section as a part-time employee. He currently helps organize major junior tennis events across the state, including the 2012 USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships. The 64th USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships, to be held June 9-14, 2012, will see the 18-14 age divisions played at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, and the 12-10 divisions played at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.