EL PRAT DE LLOBREGAT, October 7, 2019
The second edition of the Sanchez-Casal Head by NH Hotel Group was the seventh and final ATP Challenger event held on Spanish soil this season. The clay-court tournament with a total prize money of €46,600 offered a special feature, as players had the chance to check decisions from the line-umpires by using the FoxTenn electronic line calling.
Most of the players, including eventual champion Salvatore Caruso, as well as tournament director Sergio Casal were convinced by the system’s performance. We met the former tennis professional from Spain, who won three Grand Slam doubles titles, as well as the men’s doubles Silver Medal alongside Emilio Sanchez at the 1988 Summer Olympics, on Sunday at the Sanchez-Casal Academy in El Prat de Llobregat.
Tennis TourTalk: What’s your conclusion about the past week here?
Casal: I think we improved a little bit. The second edition was a bit different compared to last year with a 48-man draw but we had the help from the weather. No drops of rain this time. There were a lot of good matches and the people from the Academy were involved in the tournament, giving them the opportunity to learn and experience professional tennis.
When did you come up with the idea using the FoxTenn Technology here on clay?
About 10 days ahead of the start of the tournament we got a call from former professional Felix Mantilla, who is one of the key people responsible for the system. We had a meeting and decided to use it here. Players still need to get used to it but it will be the future, even on clay. With this technology it’s easier for the players and it doesn’t take more time than when the umpire needs to go down from his chair to check the mark. There are less discussions on the court, as you just have to accept the decision.
It is also a special year for you, as the Academy celebrates its 20th anniversary.
We have been here for some time now, yes. We want to help to develop successful young people in all aspects of life, using tennis and education as the vehicle for personal development. We still have our school trying to give the opportunity to young people maybe getting a scholarship for the US or to become a professional player, which is pretty difficult. With tournaments like this, we also give the opportunity to players on the tour to improve their ranking. The points Salvatore Caruso earned will help him to get into the main draw of the Grand Slams and it will also be a help Jozef Kovalik, who had a tough years with injuries, to improve his ranking.
Will we see a third edition next year?
Yes, of course. We have a three-year contract, so another Challenger is going to take place here next year. I would also like to see the tournament to be held here in the long term. It needs some time to create a history but it would be nice to see players having the event in Barcelona on their agenda and to come back. This is my goal for the next years.
Thank you and all the best.