The New York Open and its ownership, GF Sports, have unveiled a new event promotional platform this summer called “The Skills Challenge.” The multi-purpose content and event platform is tennis’ version of a grassroots skills competition that has been produced in conjunction with many of the major sports leagues.
Similar to the NFL’s “Punt, Pass and Kick,” MLB’s “Hit, Pitch and Run,” and the PGA’s “Drive, Chip and Putt,” the platform being brought to the market by GF Sports will measure a tennis player’s ability to hit accurate groundstrokes, volleys and serves.
“Measurement is the best tool for improvement at all playing levels,” said GF Sports Senior Executive and New York Open’s Tournament Director Josh Ripple. “Our goal is to develop the Skills Challenge as both a standalone event platform that will eventually provide for a local, regional, national and even international series of Skills events, while at the same time, enable our ATP Tour franchises to benefit promotionally from naming the regional competitions in conjunction with the New York Open and the Atlanta Open.”
During the summer, The Skills Challenge has been rolled out in both GF Sports markets. At the recent BB&T Atlanta Open, the Skills Challenge was made available to players of all age categories and levels, and was featured during several sessions of the ATP Tour event on Stadium Court. Even ATP Tour star Bob Bryan tested his ability on the Skills Course.
Lucky winners were provided tickets to GF Sports’ suite during the U.S. Open, as well as tickets to the 2019 Atlanta Open. In the New York, New Jersey and Long Island areas, the Skills Challenge was displayed and used at Centercourt Athletic Club of Chatham in Chatham, N.J. during the Saint Barnabas UTR Championships—where again kids and adults had the ability to test their skill in order to achieve prizes and tickets. Even 2018 New York Open player and the eventual winner of the Saint Barnabas event, Noah Rubin, put his skills to the test.
“We find that when you combine competition and measurement, tennis players seem to focus while having a great deal of fun going up against their peers, coaches, parents and others that participate,” said Director of GF Sports Events and Skills Challenge Director Peter Lebedevs. “The aspiration is to offer clubs, pros and various tennis and recreational facilities a unique programming tool that can be integrated into their daily or weekly content, while at the same time, establish the bona fide skills competition for tennis that can become a massive event platform.”
The Skills Challenge provides participating organizations the competition layout and scoring system. GF Sports leaves it in the hands of the clubs themselves as to how they want to add entertaining elements, such as music and prizes, to enhance the player’s experience. Several New York/New Jersey-area clubs have started to test the Skills Challenge in addition to CenterCourt. The platform has been tried at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Sportime, World Gym Setauket, MatchPoint, Orange Lawn Tennis Club, Willowbrook Tennis Club, as well as Bridgehampton, just to name a few. Atlanta facilities such as Bitsy Grant and Ansley Golf Club have been testing it too.
According to Lebedevs, who is also the Assistant Tournament Director at the New York Open, the Skills Challenge will be implemented and in the months leading up to the New York Open. A regional competition will take place where the finalists in the various age groups will playoff on Stadium and Grandstand Courts at the ATP Tour event in February.
“GF Sports strongly believes that we have a powerful platform that will improve everyone’s tennis and frankly make an engaging introduction of the sport to non-players more interesting and compelling,” said Lebedevs. “While we may need a few years to completely have this fine-tuned and brought to the market, just like our bringing the New York Open to the region, it will soon become a tradition and a great opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy the platform and test their skills.”
For more information about The Skills Challenge, please contact Peter Lebedevs at PLebedevs@GFSportsHoldings.com.