I found myself with no meetings on Tuesday afternoon and took the opportunity to walk around the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. I walked for two hours taking in the beautiful buildings and the stylish people and at one moment found myself at the Obelisco, the most famous monument in Buenos Aires. Standing there in the winter sunshine, I remembered two great tennis events related to the successful ITF Tennis Play and Stay Campaign and to the ITF World Tennis Day that took place, during my time as ITF Director of Development, under the shadow of the Obelisco.
The first was a promotion of the Argentina Tennis 10s Tour which the Federation started in 2010. The second was a tennis promotion in 2013 to celebrate World Tennis Day. Both were very successful initiatives that captured the attention of the media and helped to promote tennis. Argentina was a big supporter of the Campaign and World Tennis day and one of the first countries that adopted Tennis Xpress for adults after it was launched at the end of 2012. Tennis 10s and Tennis Xpress continues to impact positively there.
I am very proud of the campaign which had such a positive impact on tennis globally and also grateful for the work and the friendship of the original Task Force that helped me put the campaign together. 120+ nations adopted it and the materials were made available by the ITF in 7 languages and then translated later into 40+ other languages by individual Tennis Federations and the programmes attracted a lot of local sponsors.
It was very disappointing to many people, including me, that at the ITF 2018 Participation Conference, the ITF announced their decision to stop the Play and Stay Campaign as they felt it was not working. They had stopped promoting it in 2017. In my opinion, this was a very big mistake and threw away over 10 years of investment and time in a programme that was working.
Most of the actions of the ITF over the past three years in the area of participation appear to have been purely cosmetic and, if elected President, I will bring back an updated campaign and focus on more tangible actions to address the challenges in tennis participation globally . I will also in 2020 relaunch a world/global tennis day which the ITF last ran in 2015.
I have to confess that I finished my afternoon in one of the most beautiful bars in Buenos Aires at the Alvera Palace Hotel and treated myself to a glass of very good Argentinian red wine. Not a bad afternoon.
Serve Rally and Score!