The Czech Republic’s tennis players have won every single team competition they’ve entered this year: the Hopman Cup, the Fed Cup and – just this Sunday – the Davis Cup. But what does this unprecedented success mean for Czech tennis in financial terms? And what could it mean in the future?
On Sunday evening the Czech Republic’s men’s tennis team – thanks in large part to an outstanding performance by Radek Štěpánek – took the Davis Cup for the first time in the country’s history as an independent state.
Following wins in the early-season Hopman Cup and more recently in the Fed Cup, 2012 has been the country’s greatest year ever in collective tennis competitions.
One might perhaps expect that to spell a financial windfall for Czech tennis. However, the big winner has been the company that a decade or so ago took on the risk involved in overseeing the country’s Fed and Davis Cup campaigns, Česká sportovní. It is reported to have made around CZK 10 million on both this year.
The profits – mainly from sponsors and ticket sales – will not be seen by the Český tenisový svaz, the country’s official tennis federation, which has 60,000 registered players. Its chairman is Ivo Kaderka.
“Under the contract that we agreed with our organisational partners Česká sportovní, the prize money from every successful round in both competitions goes to them, and the federation gets 15 percent of it back. The money for the Fed Cup is about half that for the Davis Cup, and it should now be close to USD 1 million.”
But even if the Czech tennis federation doesn’t receive that much directly from the two recent wins, surely it will feel some knock-on benefits? Sports marketer Marek Tesař says that is not so clear cut.
“The economic situation is quite complicated at the moment. On the other hand, the two successes will help tennis. But the question is if there is still room in the federation’s current portfolio of partners. Because I was on their website, and there really are a lot of partners.”
Tesař says it may also be a question of trying to strike while the iron is hot.
“Tennis can expect growth in its base, which it needs to make sure there are the greatest number of players possible at small clubs. But the interest of the media is also important. The question now is how long it will last, given that the heart of the Czech Davis Cup team, by which I mean Radek Štěpánek, has probably reached his peak.”
One other issue that has come up in the wake of this year’s unprecedented success is why – given the country’s long tradition of tennis excellence – the Czech Republic does not host any WTA or ATP competitions. Ivo Kaderka again.
“It’s not the right path. Fifteen years ago we decided to end
megalomaniacal competitions, where only two or three Czechs play but they
cost CZK 50 or 60 million. We introduced a series of far smaller
tournaments which mainly give young Czech players a chance, and where they
can win their first prize money and ATP and WTA points. All of today’s
stars were raised in that system.”
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