As part of our series of interviews in which we meet some of the personalities that make up the Tennis Europe Junior Tour, we spoke to Joe Beaton, organiser of the Category 1 Kungens Kanna & Drottningens Pris event in Stockholm, Sweden.
How long have you been organising the tournament, and what motivates you to do it?
KLTK have been organising this event for 117 years, and as a Category 1 Tennis Europe event since 2012. Myself and the Kungens Kanna & Drottningens Pris team all love tennis, and we feel incredibly proud of our event. We aim to inspire the next generation of professional tennis players. As the years go by we see some good results from past participants; if we have been a small part of their ongoing success, then this is all the motivation we need.
How many people are involved in the running of the tournament?
Our committee is a small group of key people; some are club employees and some club members volunteering. We are generally between 6 - 8 people on this committee. During the event itself, we are grateful to our club members that volunteer and work hard on this event year after year. 80 - 100 are needed for us to execute the tournament appropriately.
When do preparations start?
With this event, there are always improvements to be made and our team never “shuts off”. The club staff is working continuously year-round, and we have already had our first committee meeting for 2019, and the event volunteers are engaged as from a week before the event.
The ‘Kungens Kanna’ (the King’s Pitcher) is one of the world’s longest-running tournaments. Tell us a bit about its history.
This event has a long and excellent history we are very proud of. It was first held in 1901 at the initiative of Crown Prince Gustaf, who persuaded his father King Oscar II, to donate the winning trophy. Since then, the Royal Family continues the tradition of giving the first prize of the tournament. In 1950 a prize for women was added, making it possible to compete for the Drottningens Pris (Queen’s Prize).
From the very beginning, the men’s tournament had a very strong reputation around the tennis world, and many of the world’s best players came to Stockholm to attend. For example, in 1908 Arthur W. Gore from Great Britain was the winner and also the Wimbledon champion. Jaroslav Drobny and Bjorn Borg are two more Wimbledon singles champions who also triumphed in the Kungens Kanna.
When the women’s tournament began in 1950, it instantly received similar status to the men’s tournament among the world’s elite players. In 1958 Angela Mortimer from Great Britain stood as the winner of the Drottningens Pris. She won three Grand Slam titles during her singles career (French Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon) and was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1961.
How do you keep improving your tournament?
Over the years we have slowly been adding small improvements, for example, name signs on every court from round 1, live match streaming on four courts from the first round, a players’ party with a magician, the tournament website. This year we extended the main draw to 64 players, this was an improvement we will continue with.
We try to make each event a little bit better than the one before, a bit more fun and exciting for the players, coaches, parents and spectators.
This year, the Tennis Europe Junior Committee met during the tournament. How important was this for you?
It was an honour to welcome the Tennis Europe Junior Committee to Stockholm and to our tennis club. We have enjoyed this collaboration immensely over the years. This was an opportunity for us like all the other years, to show what we can do. It was much appreciated, and we hope to welcome them again shortly.