Game, set and match as Tennis SA scores TV deal

By Herman Gibbs Time of article published Jun 19, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - Worldwide the sports industry has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which in many instances sounded the death knell of organisations unable to deal with financial blows and zero business growth.

Under the watch of their vibrant chief executive Richard Glover, a former Arsenal FC executive, national tennis has bucked the trend. Over the past 12 months, Tennis South Africa (TSA) has seen a record 23% increase in membership thanks to its #JoinTheClub initiative.

Ever since his appointment in 2016, Glover has been fully committed to transforming national tennis. His primary aim was to ensure that tennis was a sport that was inclusive and accessible to all people.

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, it became increasingly challenging to open tennis up to all communities.

“Tennis is an individual, non-contact, outdoor sport and so offers a safe way of exercising, and having fun, in these pandemic times,” said Glover.

“Our staff, provinces and partners have worked tirelessly to keep the sport going through Covid-19, and we are excited to warmly welcome new members to this beautiful game.

“We will not stop here as we launch our new campaign #JoinTheClub, encouraging tennis lovers from far and wide to venture to their nearest club – to lace up, start serving and having fun!

“Members enjoy a host of benefits, including discounts on tennis clothing, equipment, accommodation and other special deals from some of our partners.” Glover, the former Arsenal marketing guru, knows the value of the media, notably television. He has struck a ground-breaking partnership with the national public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Last week, the two parties shook hands on a three-year media rights partnership.

“I am excited about being able to get South African tennis events back where they belong – live, on the SABC,” said Glover.

“Tennis in South Africa is on an upwards trajectory, but for the sport to achieve its true potential, it needs to reach as many South Africans as possible.

“Our new free-to-air broadcast partnership with the SABC provides us with a powerful platform from which to achieve this goal.

"We love the new SABC Sports vision and look forward to working closely with Gary (Rathbone) and his team to showcase the best of local tennis over the next three years.”

Gary Rathbone, the general manager of SABC Sport, is delighted that South African tennis fans will be able to follow their favourite sport on television.

“This is good for SABC Sport, good for Tennis South Africa and great for the millions of South Africans who love the game and want to re-connect with the local experience, as much as to what is happening internationally,” said Rathbone.

“We believe we can play a key role in building the image and profile of tennis in our country and allow the game to touch the lives of millions more South Africans. We know how big the game of tennis still is in this country and to our audiences.”

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