All tennis courts I play at are full of politicians, managers, opinion makers and other influential people. Tennis is (although I don’t like that) a very business-crowded sport. Therefore it would seem logical that Slovenian Tennis Association wouldn’t have any problems with sponsors. But today’s interview with its president Marko Umberger reveals that Slovenian tennis lost all its shine.
The president said that there are no fans and consequently no sponsors. Last weekend there was Challenger BMW Ljubljana Open in our capital, but organizers were not satisfied with the numbers of visitors. It is hard to understand this situation: on one hand you see top managers, wannabe managers and other influential people in our society sweating on the courts (by-the-way, the number of courts lags behind the demand, especially during winter season). On the other hand there is nobody who wants to watch and support tennis. Is that possible?
I was very surprised that the journalist who interviewed the president of Slovenian tennis association also told that Polona Hercog‘s mother (top 50 WTA Slovenian player) tells journalists when they should or shouldn’t have questions for Polona. On the contrary, Serena Williams answers even seemingly the most unimportant questions her fans ask on Twitter. Last week she was waiting for a flight at the airport and she welcomed people on Twitter to ask her just about any questions they have in mind and she was then answering to them for more than half an hour. Are here bigger celebrities than Serena? Could that even be possible? :)
Yes, we are a small country, yes, we don’t have such sponsorships budgets like France, Switzerland, yes, we don’t have such famous players like Spain, Serbia or Russia. But also, yes, we have passion like Dustin Brown and his fellow citizens from The Jamaica Bobsleigh Team. Maybe there is a lack of ambition, dissatisfaction with the current situation and a lot of disappointments from the past? I don’t know what the real reasons are, but I am sure that with a new sponsorship strategy, active and attractive sponsorships packaging which wouldn’t just bring companies’ names as logos at the court they could bring back financial stability and provide for a brighter future of my favorite sport.
Slovenian tennis in my opinion should go back to the roots and find the reasons why all this opinion makers, managers, politicians etc. play tennis and how can we make them watch it live, too. I totally understand that they don’t want to watch 397. ATP player in Ljubljana if they can fly with their private jets to Paris and watch top 10 player on Rolland Garros (I am exaggerating on purpose), but they like to play and hang out with other tennis fans at least a few times a week. We will never have US Open, but we can create fancy, glamorous and attractive tennis culture which can reflect in events, happenings, different educational or fans programs etc.
It is not easy in these economic circumstances to start optimistically in sports marketing and creating a new sponsorship approach. However, I believe it is even more dangerous to leave all those rackets and yellow balls play by themselves with a priceless target group without sponsorship involvement. This target group is not just a source of sponsorships but also the highest and the most invaluable spending group.