Photo: Corinne DubreuilITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Marion Bartoli (FRA)
The ITF’s centenary AGM continued on Wednesday with delegates taking part in a number of meetings during the day before enjoying the 2014 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas draw at the bank’s offices in Paris.
The day started with meetings for the Regional Associations and continued with Breakout Groups, which are designed to encourage the sharing of ideas and the instigation of best practice.
This year’s topics included communications, Davis Cup and Fed Cup, revenue streams, and increasing tennis participation.
The Communications breakout groups focused on two important developments: the growth of Twitter as an increasingly effective online communications tool; and the launch of World Tennis Day as a promotional vehicle for national federations to encourage people to take up the game.
Bathelemy Collin, Twitter Head of Sport in France, explained that Twitter presents a great opportunity for federations to connect with tennis fans, with over 200 million active Twitter users each month worldwide. It does not need a huge investment, but can play an important part in a nation’s promotional activities.
Another important promotional tool for nations is World Tennis Day that was launched to great success on 4 March 2013 with over 50 national federations taking part. USTA President David Haggerty looked at the growth of the annual Tennis Night in America combined with the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden that has become the largest one-day initiative for grass roots programmes and is now a focal point for World Tennis Day.
The 2013 event concentrated on Tennis 10s activities, but ITF Director of Development Dave Miley explained that TennisXpress would be included in an expanded programme in 2014 to enable to platform to reach as wide an audience as possible.
In the Davis Cup and Fed Cup discussions, Sebastien Guyader of title sponsor of BNP Paribas, spoke about how the competitions, that are played all year round in five continents, were a perfect fit for the company, allowing them to reach their customers and improve the image of their brand.
Tennis Canada President Michael Downey and Stephen Healey, President of Tennis Australia, shared their Davis Cup experiences. Tennis Canada, as an emerging nation, has been able to build on the recent success of Milos Raonic to stage successful ties with local and national government support, and increased media and TV coverage. Tennis Australia continues to use Davis Cup to create exposure for the sport away from the traditional Australian tennis season and throughout different communities.
Davis Cup can also provide important revenue streams for federations. Gabriel Sanchez-Sierra, President of the Colombian Tennis Federation, spoke about how building strong relationships with the Colombian players has helped the federation stimulate interest in the competitions and generate government support.
Bernard Giudicelli, General Secretary of the French Tennis Federation, spoke about the importance of developing a relationship with the players in your country. France is fortunate to have 8,800 clubs and 1.1 million active members, and the federation has recently developed an online resource for clubs and members to be able to access the information they need.
In the Development breakout group, Simon Jones, Head of Performance Support for the Lawn Tennis Association, spoke about the devising of a Blueprint for British Tennis centred around the theme of winning. The Blueprint identified three key areas for success: the right coach for the right player, sports science advice and the right competitive structure.
Luisanna Fodde, a member of the Board of the Italian Tennis Federation, spoke about how the federation has introduced Youth Summer Camps with the focus on tennis among a wider programme of activities. Des Allen, President of Tennis Ireland, rounded out the session by emphasising the importance of developing a national coach education structure through looking at what other nations have done and the use of external expertise and former players.
The breakout groups were well received by the delegates, who were able to hear summaries of all the presentations in a feedback session.
With heads brimming full of ideas, attention turned towards the evening’s main event – the 2014 Fed Cup draw which took place at the offices of title sponsor BNP Paribas.
The room used to host the draw was the former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and it looked glorious when it was full of board members and French media alike, with all and sundry wanting to catch a glimpse of the newly-crowned Wimbledon women’s singles champion Marion Bartoli.
The French No. 1 was on hand to help with proceedings and was also the focus of a fair few photos with her adoring public! With so many nations represented, there was plenty of opportunity for friendly banter once the draw was made.
For more information about the draw click here.