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Best Practice: Minnesota Tennis Challenge, Anna Kournikova vs. Monica Seles Tennis Exhibition

Best Practice: Minnesota Tennis Challenge, Anna Kournikova vs. Monica Seles Tennis Exhibition 

This "Best Practice" will explain how our section helped return big-time tennis to the local marketplace and the resulting benefits.

Definition And Example: 
The USTA/Northern Section partnered with the management company that promotes events at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to make this event possible.  Northern was an advisor and promotional partner but not a financial investor.  However, Northern received significant revenues from the event.

Prior to the Minnesota Tennis Challenge on Saturday, December 14 the Minneapolis-St. Paul market had gone several years without any tennis headliners appearing here.  Showcasing top players like Kournikova and Seles is significant to our goal of promoting the game in this area.  Because we have not had a regular exhibition or tour stop, tennis does not receive as much media coverage here as we would like to see.  When fans and media watch world-class tennis they become excited about our sport.  The impact can help grow awareness and participation in a crowded sports marketplace where tennis is competing for attention and players.


  1. In advance of the event the Xcel Energy management company created an advertising and promotional campaign, including TV. The Northern Section logo or name was included in most or all of this advertising, providing us with strong brand identity. 
  2. We were also able to offer USTA members a $5 per ticket discount on most tickets. 
  3. Prior to the event, Luke and Murphy Jensen (who played in the exhibition) participated in a youth clinic.
  4. At the event Northern received promotion and brand identity including through scoreboard visuals.  The section had concourse locations to accomplish three goals: first, to promote signups for the MasterCard program, second to promote all of our USTA programs and third to generate funding for the section's Hall of Fame with a silent auction in the concourse.
  5. Prior to the Kournikova and Seles match, four section juniors played in exhibition matches and in another exhibition a University of Minnesota doubles team played the Jensen brothers.
  6. A section representative also took part in the post-match ceremonies.  All of this was extraordinary exposure for our section.


  1. The Northern Section sold the Xcel management company on the "window" to promote tennis in this marketplace created by the absence of big time tennis in the area for many years. 
  2. Advice was given on player talent and how to market the event. 
  3. Northern used its marketing resources to aggressively promote the event.  Electronic mail, Tennis Life magazine and other promotional tools were used, all at no extra cost to the section.
  4. Northern arranged for the ball kids and officials for the evening's tennis matches.

People Involved:
The key planners were David Shama, director of marketing and communications, Northern Section; Marcia Bach, executive director, Northern Section; and Tony Stingley, multicultural director, Northern Section. Other staff members worked the event.

Considerable advance time is required to stage such an event, particularly when the group involved has not previously promoted tennis at the facility.  A number of phases are included such as the soundness of the business proposition, negotiating the deal for the talent, developing the marketing plan and, of course, staging the event.

The section did not have to invest any money in the event or its promotion.

David Shama, USTA Northern Section
Phone: 952-887-5001, ext. 18.  

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