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CEO Hammerl explains success of Tennis Europe: “The ideal pathway for young players”

In an exclusive interview, the Tennis Europe chief says the only secret to success for aspiring juniors is consistent hard work

Thomas Hammerl portrait (Tennis Europe) Thomas Hammerl | © Tennis Majors

In 2022, Europe’s leading youngsters went toe to toe on a new, improved and expanded Tennis Europe Tour, showcasing to the world the stars of the future.

The well-trodden path has produced the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, Gael Monfils, Kim Clijsters and Justin Henin and who knows, someone from this year’s crop could go on to emulate their heroes.

In an exclusive interview with Tennis Majors, Tennis Europe CEO Thomas Hammerl said 2022 had been the best year yet, with the season-ending Tennis Europe Junior Masters in Monte Carlo a big success.

“We’re very happy and thankful, we had an upgrade of the first edition, this year we have live streaming and live score, live broadcast in 84 countries all over the world even in Dubai or in India,” he said. “So the media attention is getting better and better and we’re really happy for that.”

“Also the players enjoyed a lot, couple of features, we had a new scoreboard, an LED scoreboard, it looked like a real ATP event and these kids deserved it, they’re really the best in Europe in the 14 and 16 age categories. So we’re overall really happy.”

Ksenia Efremova and Thomas Hammerl, Monte-Carlo, october 2022 | © Tennis Majors

“The best of these juniors are going on a plane every week”

For Hammerl, Tennis Europe is the perfect breeding ground for future stars and the season-ending event was the culmination of a tour that includes 460 tournaments per year across the under 12, 14 and under 16 categories.

“They do have a pro life, they deserve (it) because they collected points, all over the year and it was really the top eight with the most points that were invited, it was really the creme de la creme, Europe is the strongest continent of the world so these juniors are probably the best in the world not only in Europe and yes the best of these juniors are going in a plane every single week.

“There is a lot of ways to become a professional tennis player, I would say that the standard way is that you are top three or top five in your country then you go on the European tour, after that you go to the ITF Junior tour (U18), then futures and challenger and eventually the ATP tour playing in the grand slams.

“It’s the ideal pathway. According to our experience, the most important thing is the set up for the player, the parents have to make sure that the player have the perfect set-up. They must train every single day, they must have a coach, (a physio), a conditional training, have an infrastructure and a set-up every single day. Is it the national centre or an academy, a private centre, it doesn’t matter, but it has to be a constant day to day work.”

Hammerl said no one country is dominant right now. “We have a champion from Switzerland, from the Balkans, it’s all around, it’s just a matter of hard work, wherever you come from.”

“No issue” with Russians, Belarussians playing

And he said the Tour was trying to do its bit to help Ukrainian players, even if Russian and Belarusian players were still allowed to play, despite the ongoing war following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’re a big family in Tennis, this Junior Masters is considered as an individual event so Russian and Belarus players which qualified are allowed to play. Thats different to our team events because Russian and Belorussian teams are suspended by the ITF and by Tennis Europe. So Russians for example cannot play Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup and they (were) defending champions in both events. For us there was absolutely no issue the whole week.

“The situation for the Ukranian players is very tough, we try to support them however we can, ITF ATP and WTA have a big donation, foundation, organisation to try to support these kids because obviously their situation is very very tough, we hope that it will get better and that the sport comes back to a normal position.”

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