Gathering the world’s highest profile tennis players for a fast-paced tie-break challenger tournament, Tie Break Tens is growing globally every year with seven tournaments under their belt so far, reaching new fans that aren’t traditionally the tennis type, whilst running a number of grassroot projects to expand their audience even further.
We spoke with CEO Felicity Barnard about appealing to more diverse fans, engaging with millennials and how their format works for women.
How do you get such high-profile players to take part?
“We are a relationship-driven business. Any individual sport is unusual because typically sports are a team pursuit. And while tennis players have a coach, it is an individual that plays, which makes it better for us to approach them.
“Players know that this brand new format is good for the sport because it’s opening up tennis to a new group of fans that they and their sponsors can benefit from. These new fans are all about social media, they’ll be buying merchandise, and this type of engagement is what players need.
“Just as importantly, our games are fun just not for fans, but for players too! Traditional tennis tends to have quite a few rules, but with ours, competitors get to banter with each other, watch one another play and engage with each other more than just play and go. It’s an experience for all. It’s only a few hours of their time and they’re also already playing at the venues so it’s not much playing time for a large amount of prize money. It’s pretty appealing.”
As a UK business, how has expanding worldwide been?
“Our presence in Australia and America is great because the fans out there embrace change, and our format is a little different. The US and Australian Opens are a little more relaxed compared to Wimbledon, but our relationships with the Lawn Tennis Association, International Tennis Federation and All England Tennis Club are still strong here. What we are doing is providing them with a tool to grow the game of tennis essentially, and we do a lot of grassroots work getting youngsters passionate about the sport. Watch this space, and hopefully in the next 18 months we’ll be running a tournament in the UK.”
There’s been a lot of talk in tennis about sexism in recent years. How have you addressed that?
“We are passionate about opening up tennis and making it accessible to all. Having the entertainment angle helps, and celebrities do come and watch a lot of our tournaments which expands our reach. Because the tournaments are short format, its family friendly, instead of kids sitting through full days of games which we think is beneficial to mums who want to get involved. Then we do lots of giveaways and competitions to again make Tie Break 10’s accessible, opening up more and more of society.
“By offering the same equal amount of prize money to both male and female players, I think we really appeal to female fans. One of the moments I am most proud of is giving Serena Williams the platform of playing in Madison Square Gardens after coming back from maternity leave. “It’s such an iconic venue, and it’s easy to give the male players it. There have been outcries in the past over men getting more games in the bigger courts, so it was important to us to give female players, whether they’re Serena, home-town girl CoCo Vandeweghe or up-and-coming young guns, the platform to show women in our tennis series are treated with parity.”
Why did you choose to partner with moneycorp?
“Ultimately we want the most competitive exchange rates and industry expertise, because, by the nature of our business, we do a lot of international payments. There’s also a synergy between Tie Break Tens and moneycorp when you look at our expansions into exciting and challenging markets worldwide. As a start-up business we look to our great partners to open us up to new people, best practices and fresh thinking.”
“Next up is our challenger for grassroots, so make sure you’re watching on www.tiebreaktens.com.”