Galovic at the atp tour.com, this is how the verona tournament was born and here is what awaits us in the future

Galovic at the atp tour.com, this is how the verona tournament was born and here is what awaits us in the future

Josh Meiseles, of ATPTour.com, interviewed Viktor Galovic throughout the Verona Internationals: from the farewell to tennis played to the new experience as a tournament organizer and, above all, Josh examined in detail how it was conceived and created this appointment. We have decided to offer you this interview.

“Former pro Viktor Galovic is taking on a new role on the ATP Challenger Tour as tournament director in his hometown of Verona. On Saturday (21 August. Ed), Holger Rune became the last player left in the saddle in Verona, Italy. The Danish teenager continued his ruthless streak on the ATP Challenger Tour, taking the second title in a row in a dominant fashion. Rune didn’t miss a beat all week at the Verona International Tennis Championships, culminating in a 6-4 6-2 victory over Nino Serdarusic in the final.

It was a fitting conclusion to an impressive debut for the ATP Challenger in Verona, ushering in a new era of the circuit. With former pro Viktor Galovic at the helm, it was a success from start to finish. With local chefs and live concerts throughout the week, as well as light shows marking the night sessions, fans received world-class entertainment and players were treated like rock stars. After traveling with the tour for nearly a decade this was exactly how Galovic envisioned the ideal tournament.

It has become a first in the life of the ATP Challenger Tour. Many former players change roles, joining the organization as tournament directors. From Top 10 such as Arnaud Clement (Aix-en-Provence) and Andres Gomez (Guayaquil), or even Luis Horna (Lima), Rik De Voest (Vancouver) and Nicolas Escude (Brest), past champions are “returning” the favor: each of these players began their career on the Challenger circuit. Now they are going back to their origins.

This week, Galovic is the last to join the fray. The Croatian, who grew up in Italy, embarked on a new career as tournament director in his city, Verona. This tournament marks the return of the ATP Challenger Tour to the Italian city for the first time since 1990.

Galovic, a stronghold in the FedEx ATP Rankings Top 200 for many years, lifted his only Challenger trophy in nearby Recanati, Italy, in 2017. He made five more appearances on the ATP Tour, reaching the quarter-finals on the red clay of the Swiss. Open Gstaad in 2018, where he beat 38 of the world, Robin Haase.

After 10 years of career, Galovic announced his retirement from professional tennis in July. Constant back and hip injuries forced him to hang up his racket, but the thirty-year-old does not leave the tennis scene. He recently started “VK Events” with the plan to organize

It all starts with this week’s Verona International Tennis Championships. Held at the Verona Tennis Association, the tournament courts were built in 1929 and hosted Challenger tournaments in 1988 and 1990. Now, the historic club welcomes players and fans from a new era of tennis in northern Italy.

Galovic spoke to ATPTour.com during his first week in his new role … First of all, Viktor, congratulations on this new endeavor. How did this come about?

I have been playing well for the past few years and have enjoyed my time on the tour but got stuck with a back injury and had four hernias. I also had to have hip surgery. I’m almost 31 now and I don’t want to have to go through another surgery so that’s it. I played my last tournament in Todi (in July). But now I stay in tennis, in a different way. I think I will like this more than working out and sweating all day.

The tournament actually started out as a joke. A friend of mine and I were saying that it’s crazy that a club like this in Verona doesn’t have a Challenger. For fun we said: “Let’s contact ATP and let’s do it”. Here’s how it started. I actually had this idea earlier in the year. We started at the end of April and didn’t have much time to organize everything. But we managed to organize one of the best Challengers in Europe, I think.

Now that the first edition is over, what are your impressions? How did it go?

I’m the tournament director and I’m also the tournament organizer. With my colleagues, we organized everything from the start. Four of us created this from scratch. We did a great job in just a few months.

The fields are completely new and we have a nice hotel and great food. Having a team that knows what players need is important. We brought Elena Marchesini [co-founder of MEF Tennis Events] to do the desk for the players. Also, in the first few days we had to train the guys who cleaned the fields, the ball boys and some of the staff, but as soon as they knew what they had to do, everything went smoothly.

Being a former player gave you a unique perspective. How did it help you with this role?

Being a player helps a lot. I know everything a player needs. Sometimes I was the one complaining to some Challengers. We have done everything for these players. For example, we could have used a cheaper hotel but wanted the Crowne Plaza and made everything more comfortable. With the serving staff all the food was good. If it wasn’t, I would have hired someone new. We have given almost everything for these players.

For the fans, we installed lights on the center pitch so people could see them from the street and enter. We didn’t expect to have so many people on site. On Thursday we were already completely full. People had to be vaccinated or tested negative. We had 200 people seated and another 200 standing. It’s vacation now in Verona so everyone is free to watch tennis. It’s been 31 years since the last challenger and we wanted free entry.

I mentioned the importance of making everything perfect for the players, but how did you improve the experience for the fans?

The main goal was to recreate the atmosphere of the ATP 250 tournament in Umag. We decided it was going to be an event, with great food, music and tennis. It’s a tennis tournament, but it’s also a big event. The center court has synchronized lights and after matches there are parties in the club. Before the games there was the “aperitif” time (a light drink before dinner). If you come with your wife and she is not interested in tennis, she can still enjoy the music and concerts after the game is over. It is similar to Umag and Braunschweig on the Challenger tour. Here we always have something new every night.

What was the biggest challenge in making this possible?

Just working with so many people and so many groups to make the tournament work. Organize everything and contact everyone. The coordination. It’s like a puzzle. This is the most complicated thing. I am sure this is the case with many tournaments. This is the biggest challenge in organizing a tournament.

You have just inaugurated a new event management company, VK Events. Is it just for tennis tournaments or do you have plans to expand into other areas?

For now it’s just tennis and we have three Challengers scheduled next year. The main goal for us is to create an event. An entertainment experience. Not just a tournament and that’s it. Next year, we will try to go to the Lido of Venice. It will be in Venice, so you will need to arrive by ferry. And the other one we are trying to do is in Merano. We also want to do something that no one has done in Verona, and that is to bring an ATP 250 here. We don’t know how or when yet, but the main goal is to have a central pitch in the Arena. This is the goal.

Now that your career has ended, how rewarding is it to be able to pay off the Challenger Tour and help it grow as a conductor?

It is very rewarding. It was the best time of my life. I struggled a lot early in my career, but doing the Challenger Tours and having these experiences with a coach and a physiotherapist was fantastic. It was already rewarding in the past and now being able to organize one of these tournaments is even more special.

Finally, what are your best memories of competing on the tour? What will you remember most from your gaming days?

I don’t have that many memories that pop up from winning games. But the main thing that I really liked about tennis is that it taught me to deal with pressure and to get people involved to organize something. He taught me a lot in this way, because tennis is stressful. Traveling by plane twice a week is already heavy and then you have the tension on the pitch. Tennis is about solving problems. This has helped me a lot to find solutions at any time in organizing a Challenger ». (translation by Rocco Fattori Giuliano)