The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected our sport on all levels. We met with Ivo Kaderka, President of the European Tennis Federation, to talk about his goals and ambitions for the organisation in this new era, about the impact of the pandemic and the results of a new European study.
Welcome Mr. Kaderka, how do you evaluate your first few months as President?
Ivo Kaderka: It is my duty as President to protect the precious values of our Federation and to keep the long lasting good tradition and integrity of Tennis Europe. The Tennis Eco System is unbalanced and unfair and federations are mostly the last in the chain. I will dedicate my time and knowledge to stabilize and grow Tennis Europe, make the voices of federations heard and have them feel the economic benefits. We want to be proactive and ease the burden for national federations. Now is not the time to play politics – we need to stabilize and grow Tennis Europe. We need to give federations, coaches, umpires, juniors, clubs all the support we can for their success. Our focus is a strong financial model, a transparent and efficient administration structure with 24/7 leadership from the top all the way down. Tennis Europe needs to be financially stable, well balanced and with structured priorities in order to support our national federations.
One of your first activities as President was to reach out to member nations and ask about their concerns. Tell us more about your findings.
Ivo Kaderka: The 50 European national federations took part in a survey to gain insight into how the pandemic affected their daily business. The results give us a clear picture of the economic and operational impacts of COVID-19 for National Tennis Federations and will help Tennis Europe define the priorities for these challenging times to address its Member Nations’ needs adequately.
What has been the financial effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on European tennis associations?
Ivo Kaderka: 75% of our member nations suffered from an overall decline in 2020 financial results and in their 2021 budgets. Smaller nations with less financial back up have been hit hardest. Some of the answers we received were alarming: “We don’t have any budget”, “We lost all our money.” This is of course a priority task for us to try to support these federations immediately.
How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the programs initiated by national tennis federations?
Ivo Kaderka: National tennis federations are responsible for growing the game in their respective countries by boosting participation and running development programs to raise national tennis heroes, hosting national and international competitions. Our survey revealed that ‘programs for kids aged 10 & Under, promoting tennis in schools and free beginnersˈ lessons in local clubsˈ are considered the initiatives with the most significant impact on the sport. The pandemic’s effect on our Federations is huge, as currently 94% of them report that they cannot run their existing tennis programs due to the circumstances. 27% of them have had to suspend all their initiatives until further notice and 67% of federations report that they need support with projects including:
- Kids tennis development programs
- School tennis
- Training camps, closure of national, regional, and commercial tennis facilities
- National and international competitions
- Travel grants for players
- Educational seminars and conferences.
How do Federations fund their daily business?
Ivo Kaderka: We know that securing funding is one of the biggest challenges for federations. Government funding is by far the most essential financial income stream for most European National Tennis Federations. More than 50% of Federations rely on government funding during the pandemic and every third federation is getting less money - around 30% -from the government for 2020 and/or 2021.
How is the Sponsorship situation for tennis federations in Europe?
Ivo Kaderka: Sponsorship revenues are the second most significant source of income for tennis federations. Sponsors today are mainly interested in, ˈsocial media activation, precise monitoring of return on investment, and more activation opportunities for less money’. But the current situation makes gaining sponsorship extremely difficult: 76% of our federations report a decline in sponsorship income due to the pandemic. Every third Federation speaks of a serious sponsorship shortfall – meaning the income has dropped by 50% or more.
How is the current situation regarding the Junior Tour?
Ivo Kaderka: Top events like Category 1 and Super Category tournaments returned to the Junior Tour from March 2021 after a 6-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the Tour’s biggest events, which offer larger draws and greater ranking points, so obviously everybody was waiting for them. We also welcomed back the 12 & Under events from January 1st, to give this age group the opportunity to compete in tournaments again. Our European Championships 14, 16 and 18 & Under will be played in the week of 19-25 July and we are also looking forward to playing the traditional Summer Cups team competitions again.
Tell us about the new 2021 Masters in Monte-Carlo
Ivo Kaderka: The ‘Race to Monte-Carlo’ for 14 and 16 & Under players kicked off on January 1st, 2021 and is fueling the hopes for many players to qualify for the season-ending Junior Masters in Monaco. We get daily requests from players and coaches about how they can qualify for this fantastic event which will take place in October for the Top 8 European Juniors in the age categories 14 and 16 & Under.
What do you personally plan for your term as President to fight these challenging times?
Ivo Kaderka: Our survey shows clearly that 69% of our member nations are expecting financial support from the Tennis Europe President and its Board of Management. 51% are even asking for direct financial assistance – and we have the perfect tool for that, which is our President’s Fund. I am in talks with substantial sponsors to secure new sponsorship deals to benefit our nations. In addition to financial aid we offer our nations the European Academy in Prostejov, where their promising young players can train – subsidised by Tennis Europe and the Czech Tennis Association. It is also my goal to upgrade our digital activities, that’s why we have increased the number of webinars and online meetings for tournament organizers, coaches, refereees, parents and players. Another key pillar of my leadership is education, which is why we are continually working on new modules for our Junior School – to help young players prepare for their life as professional tennis players.
Mr. President, what is your conclusion and message to the European tennis community?
Grass roots should be a priority for all tennis bodies, as this is our future. Change is needed and Tennis Europe will be a great united European Voice for fairness and stability of our federations. As the President of Tennis Europe, I will work tirelessly for the Presidents, General Secretaries and Sports Directors of all 50 Federations. They all deserve the utmost respect for the work they are doing for tennis. What we need right now is unity in European tennis for the sake of all our tennis stakeholders and enthusiasts.
I am a person from humble beginnings and was taught by my parents to give and to forgive, so let's roll up our sleeves and deliver for those who elected us. The survival and success of our sport is at stake and we cannot afford to make mistakes and lose precious time. Our European tennis family needs to stay strong and work collectively, now more than ever, to overcome these challenging times and bring us on the way to recovery.