Once the confetti was collected from the WTA Finals 2021, held in Guadalajara, the immediate question is to know how Mexico stands in the eyes of the world’s largest women’s tennis organization, after this country was abruptly chosen as the venue for an event of such magnitude and without prior experience. .
The answer is given by Micky Lawler, president of the WTA, who put his eyes on every detail of the celebration in Guadalajara and since the last eight weeks, through Fabrice Chouquet, the delegate who sent to Mexico to work an express organization together to his local counterpart, Gustavo Santoscoy.
“Mexico is a country where we have tournaments in Monterrey and Guadalajara, we know that tennis is a very interesting sport here and that it is an important representative. It is the largest Latin American market, so we saw a very interesting possibility of bringing the Finals, because the more we can bring to the region the better. The weather also helped us a lot because it is perfect, all the parts really were given to be successful “, said Micky Lawler in an interview with The Economist.
This analysis combines with what Santoscoy, Mexican director of the WTA Finals 2021, said, since from now on they envision a more constant role for Mexico for the WTA Tour: year we are already qualified to do any type of event with them. We are starting to create a new project in two or three years’ time ”.
Currently, Mexico has two events within the WTA Tour: the Monterrey Open and the Zapopan Open, both in the 250 category, the fourth in the hierarchy level after the 500, Masters 1000 and Grand Slams. However, the organization rated as “excellent” by Micky Lawler opens the doors to a possible third tournament.
“I believe that it is possible, why not? Mexico has shown the world that not only can important tournaments be organized, but also the biggest ones, of great international importance (…) When the Finals are released (from the contract with China in 2030), of course there will be an opportunity to work on the option to return to Mexico, hopefully we can do it ”, mentions the board of directors, who did not stop smiling when they saw the mariachis that they sang to the players Paula Badosa and Elise Mertens during the celebration of the 2021 Finals.
A total of 24 countries hosted at least one WTA Tour tournament in 2021, while another seven withdrew due to prevention due to the issue of the pandemic. Not counting Grand Slams and Olympic Games, 52 championships were held throughout this season. Mexico is one of those 31 nations contemplated during the year.
However, the decision that Mexico could open a third tournament is not something that depends only on the good perceptions collected in the Guadalajara Finals. One of the 50 existing tournaments would have to be canceled and so far, according to a review by this newspaper, there is none that is going to expire its contract at least in 2022. The United States is the country that had the most in 2021 with 10 (not counting the US Open), followed by Australia with five (not counting the Australian Open).
What is the next step for Guadalajara after the approval of the WTA in the Finals?
“I always look up and if they gave me the choice I would take a Masters 1000, but that is a matter of the WTA and its calendar, its situation, it is not easy to bring such a big tournament, a 500 is not easy either, but we already did an important tournament, you have to talk to them and if they have the confidence and give us the vote and see how we treat people, it can be done. We are delighted to grow as quickly as possible, from a 125 to a Finals in two years here in Guadalajara, we have to prepare our facilities and many things so that when the public comes they have better comfort, we are going to work with WTA hand in hand and tell them Yes, we can, ”Gustavo Santoscoy replied to El Economista.
The positive perception of Guadalajara was given by other great tennis personalities: Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Conchita Martínez and Mónica Puig, all world champions, walked through the most iconic streets with a smile from racket to racket, provoking, alongside the Finals players, a movement that attracted more than 70,000 fans from three continents for eight days.
How important is the Mexican market for the WTA?
“Mexico is a market where we started in 1992 in Mexico City and then Acapulco, although unfortunately Acapulco made the decision to continue with men and not with women, which we hope will change in the near future, but Monterrey and Guadalajara will very well, that is why we evaluate the Mexican market as very positive, healthy and very tennis, it is a very important country for us ”, highlights Micky Lawler.
How do you evaluate the economic benefit that Mexico gave you as the venue for the Finals?
“It is difficult to analyze that because this year we have all invested a lot to achieve the event, we have not had time to really develop a commercial strategy, it has been more than we are going to do it, but all of us doing our part. I think that the public and the energy that exists in Guadalajara shows that there is a great opportunity that, with more time, we could manage to do bigger things in Mexico ”.
The event generated tourism from countries more than 9,000 kilometers away, such as a group of five Estonians who came to see the runner-up, Anett Kontaveit, and others who arrived from Chile to see the doubles player, Alexa Guarachi. The commercial stands also promoted international brands such as Amstel Ultra and Porsche, although like Lawler’s analysis, Gustavo Santoscoy points out that there was room for improvement in terms of brand exploitation.
“As for the commercial area, I think we were able to do something bigger, it fell a bit short because in recent weeks people came from restaurants who wanted to join. Another point to improve is the infrastructure, all that was put in place for haste, but in the future, for a large tournament, we seek to have adequate facilities and not temporary ones, “reflected the businessman from Jalisco.
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