A new tournament management, a renewed approach, an attractive list of participants, reduced ticket prices and an increasing importance for Belgian tennis: these numerous ingredients are more than ever necessary to ensure that the European Open continues to put our country on the tennis map.
“We are going from a top tennis competition to a top sports event where we will now focus on the experience”, tournament owner and CEO of Tennium Kristoff Puelinckx stated. “For those who still doubted: the European Open is here to stay!” The arrival of Dick Norman as a new tournament director at the end of March was for Tennium, the organizer of the biggest tennis tournament in Belgium, a first step to make this edition of the European Open the best edition ever, with many new strategic choices. Now that Belgian star David Goffin confirms his arrival, fans can expect an edition full of entertainment and top tennis.
A striking novelty this year is that the European Open itself is going to the Belgian tennis public. For example, from June to September, Tennium organizes a roadshow of promotional visits to more than two hundred tennis clubs. Together with some ambassadors, including Appelmans, there are about twenty European Open Club Days in the pipeline: clinics for Belgian clubs with Norman and Appelmans and/or some Belgian players.
“I am pleased that I can once again contribute to the European Open”, says Appelmans. “This prestigious tournament is invaluable for tennis in our country and going to promote it in the clubs is something I am already looking forward to.”
At least as surprising is the news that from now on national top players will also have a chance to appear in the main draw of the European Open. The winner of the Belgian Circuit Masters (the eight best players of the Belgian Circuit ranking will play against each other on October 6 and 7) will play the new European Open prequalification tournament on October 12th. In this tournament the winner can compete with the two best Belgian ATP players, who are not selected for the main draw or qualifications of the European Open, and another Belgian player who receives a wildcard from the organization. Who knows, in that way, he will make his way to the main draw of the European Open. By organizing this, the European Open wants to fill the hole that the ATP Challenger of Mons left behind.
“The European Open is the only ATP event in Belgium and with its organization we want to put tennis back on the map in Belgium”, Norman says. “Not only do we involve many tennis clubs this year, but because of the collaboration with the federations and the Belgian Circuit, we also become a platform for Belgian talent to compete with the stars and show themselves to a large audience.”
Meanwhile, a nice name can be seen on the players list. Former Sportsman of the Year David Goffin (ATP-10) has already confirmed his arrival and he’s already motivated to perform in Antwerp: “I really look forward to the European Open. Who doesn’t dream of winning in their own country for the most loyal fans in the stands? This year I will try everything I can to make a place in the final and… to win the title.”
In addition to the new approach to the tournament and its promotion, ticket prices are also more attractive than ever. “For thirty euros you already have a ticket for the final”, according to event director Ilse Van Parys. “We have lowered the ticket prices so that our tournament is really attractive and accessible to everyone, there are more ticket categories, the ticket prices for the semi-finals and the final are aligned, and with the European Open Membership of 130 euros and the Weekend Pack of 120 euro (and only 99 euro for the early birds) we have two very affordable packages for those who want to experience the tournament in the best possible way.”
A real experience, with more entertainment for the fans besides the tennis matches: that is what the European Open 2018 should be. On Monday 15 October there will be a Senior Day, on Wednesday a Kids Day will be on the program, on Thursday a Ladies Day and the weekend will be held on Friday 19 October with a bright party. For the VIPs a networking evening with live entertainment is planned for Thursday evening 18 October, a VIP Star Night em> including meeting with players on Friday 19 October, a VIP Party em> with Coco Jr and Sandrine on Saturday, October 20, and of course a vip lunch on the final day.
If you list everything, you can not deny the importance and the image of the European Open. That fact doesn’t escape the host city of the tournament. Alderman of Sport Ludo Van Campenhout: “We have been able to enjoy top tennis in Antwerp again with the European Open since 2016. The athletes are true role models for others, so that we make everyone aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and encourage our citizens and visitors to more sports and exercise. ”
Also Mayor Bart De Wever is very pleased with the choice for his city: “Initiatives such as the European Open put Antwerp even more firmly on the map as the sporting capital of Flanders, sparkling our city and strengthening the Olympic tradition of Antwerp.”
In general: October promises to be a nice tennis month for both Antwerp and our country.