World Tennis Day in Egypt
World Tennis Day garnered support from around the globe and such was the success of the inaugural event that thoughts are already turning to 3 March next year.
The focus of the first-ever World Tennis Day was to encourage children to take up the game and with that in mind more than 50 National Associations rose to the challenge and put on a variety of events aimed at increasing participation among under 10s.
“We were delighted with the success of the inaugural World Tennis Day,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “We were especially happy to see how nations highlighted their Tennis10s activities. We look forward to working in partnership with StarGames to put on an even bigger event on 3 March next year.”
World Tennis Day might have been focused on participation in its first year, but that’s not to say other areas of the sport were not represented as well.
Professional players – both past and present – took to the court in Hong Kong and New York as part of the BNP Paribas Showdown events that took place in both cities.
John McEnroe won bragging rights over Ivan Lendl, with Agnieszka Radwanska continuing her fine start to 2013 with a straight sets victory over Caroline Wozniacki at the AsiaWorld-Arena in Hong Kong.
Over at Madison Square Garden, world No. 1 Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka and Juan Martin del Potro overcame Rafael Nadal, who was making his first appearance on a hard court in almost a year, to help give World Tennis Day a flavour of star power.
Not to be outdone, Wheelchair Tennis players supported the day at the World Team Cup qualifying event in Antalya, Turkey, while students in South Africa took to the coast to demonstrate Beach Tennis to interested onlookers.
These events brought to life the breadth of the sport of tennis but it was the Tennis10s demonstrations that really stole the show both on the weekend before World Tennis Day and on the day itself.
“We are very pleased with how many nations were able to organise activities and engage with World Tennis Day in such a short amount of time,” said ITF Executive Director of Development Dave Miley.
“The level of support received for the event's first year shows the potential of World Tennis Day and I am sure in the future it will become a key focal point to attracting new people to our sport and increasing the number of people playing tennis across the world.”
In total 53 member National Associations staged events in aid of World Tennis Day and these varied from Tennis10s demonstrations at local clubs to initiatives spanning countries in an attempt to increase awareness.
One such nation which spread the message that tennis is “easy, fun and healthy” was Portugal. The Portuguese Tennis Federation asked people to send photos, videos and other material to showcase their individual take on the celebration.
Vitor Cabral of the Portuguese Tennis Federation said: “It really gave a sense of participation to Portuguese Tennis that had never before been achieved.
“It’s a very powerful message that sport is sending worldwide and, for a small country, it’s fundamental to be a part of this ‘wave’. No matter how small the part you play, it is very important to show that everyone has a role in developing tennis.
“We believe that the global reach of this event is a case study to be followed closely. We are already preparing for World Tennis Day in 2014.”
Rithivit Tep, of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, echoed those sentiments: “Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) is a small federation. We are trying to really play our role as a responsible federation which is quite simple: ‘we promote and develop tennis’.
“World Tennis Day was a great opportunity to promote what we have been developing for several years and being able to showcase this to the world through this ITF initiative was our duty and honour as a developing tennis nation.”
With so many events taking place around the world it is impossible to mention every one, but for a full recap of the days surrounding World Tennis Day and to view all of the images visit the World Tennis Day section of ITFTennis.com.