Updates: 04/29/2020 18:53
Prague – At first glance, it might seem that the largest domestic women's tournament is taking place in the tennis courts of Prague's Sparta in Stromovka as in the past. The parking lot in front of the complex is packed to bursting and the clay balls fly through a network of six hundred. While in the past five years, Czech and world stars have been chasing here for the time, the area is full only of club members.
The sixth annual J&T Banka Prague Open, the WTA tournament, was scheduled to begin on Monday. However, the organizers recalled him in mid-March due to the spread of covid-19.
“The tournament is an event and it is a loss for spectators who will not see top players, but also for tennis players, Sparta and the whole Czech tennis,” tournament spokesman Karel Tejkal told ČTK when viewed from the press center, now temporarily transformed into offices. “It's a shame even for children who were looking forward to seeing their role models,” added club director David Trunda.
Symbolically, on Monday, after the restrictions, the functioning of the club started at least in full swing. In addition to Petra Kvitová, Barbora Strýcová and Lukáš Rosol, over 350 players take turns in the courts every day. The possibility of training can be good news in times of coronavirus crisis. “I don't know if this special time brings positives, but yes, the advantage is that we can train from morning to evening after the release and the interest is huge,” Trunda said.
At the center court, where Karolína Muchová played in the finals last year, today the blows of twelve-year-old hope saw. In the backyard, where the main grandstand becomes the tournament, fedcup coach David Kunst spun thirteen-year-old talents.
This time, no one was dealing with a game program that would be disrupted by a noon hour rain shower. And they have over two hundred people off in quotes that the organizers would look for to ensure smooth running – for example, collectors, line judges or security.
“It would be necessary to provide a system of parking and transport to the complex, catering for players, guests and fans and about a thousand other things,” Tejkal calculated.
The budget of the tournament, which is subsidized by 275 thousand euros, is around 30 million crowns. Upon cancellation, the organizers did not have to invest dizzying amounts. “Orders will be realized from permanent suppliers in the future,” said Tejkal.
The WTA tournament in Sparta has been in the International category since 2015, and the home players have been extremely successful in it. Karolína Plíšková became the first winner, in 2016 Lucie Šafářová succeeded and the year before last Kvitová raised the trophy above her head.
In the future, they could add another laurel or imitate some of their compatriots. World women's tennis should return to the Vltava. “If the sports world works normally, the tournament will be here in 2021,” Tejkal assured. The question is in what term. The WTA Tour management originally planned changes to the calendar, but no one knows what it will be like after this year.