ZADAR/STARNBERG, April 2, 2021
Last week, the ATP Challenger Tour came to Zadar for the first time, marking the debut of professional tennis in the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city, situated on the Adriatic Sea. Toni Dujmenovic served as the tournament director of the inaugural Zadar Open. The 32-year-old has been playing tennis for over 25 years, starting as a child and later became a professional. Due to injuries and suffering from mononucleosis, he was forced to stop competing.
Later, Dujmenovic studied academic science and law, graduated from college with a Master degree of Law but remained closely linked to the tennis sport. He worked as a tennis coach and became a manager. In 2015, he realized his dream by setting up his own tennis club in the city of Zadar. His goal is to support young players and continues to stage big sporting events all around the country.
We spoke with Dujmenovic earlier this week, talking about his experience by staging the first Zadar Open ATP Challenger.
Tennis TourTalk: Toni, can you tell us a bit about the last week in Zadar?
Toni Dujmenovic: We experienced very challenging and stressful eight days but also during the months of preparation for the tournament. I did most of the organization together with big help and support from the executive director of the Croatian Tennis Federation Vladimir Jovanoski. The tournament was organized by Tenis Klub Borik and supported from the Croatian Tennis Federation.
What was your highlight of the week?
The final between two top players with a similar style of play. For me as a former professional player, a better title match could not have happened (Nikola Milojevic defeated Dimitar Kuzmanov 2-6, 6-2, 7-6). It was a high-quality match, which concluded in the tie-break of the third set and lasted more than three and a half hours. It was a big match and I hope all tennis fans enjoyed it.
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When did you come up with the idea to organize the event?
This was the first Challenger in Zadar and I am honored and pleased to manage to bring the ATP Challenger Tour to Zadar. I came up with the idea three yeas ago but I didn’t want to rush with the organization. I patiently worked on a plan and waited for the right moment to organize the tournament. We started with preparations in December. There was not much time but we also received great support from the ATP and the financial basis was given.
Players were pleased with the tournament, which is the most important thing. They stayed at the five-star Falkensteiner Resort Punta Skala, which is not that common on the ATP Challenger Tour. Players were happy as the hotel is situated only a few steps away from the tennis venue. This also means that they did not have to leave the area and were able to reduce contacts. We received great support and everything was perfect.
The most challenging thing was to implement the health and safety regulations and to organize the testing. In the end, we didn’t have a problem with the whole COVID situation and are very happy about it.
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Can you tell us a bit about the trophies, please.
Winner of the Zadar Open received truly unique prizes. The trophies are made of stone, with a tennis ball on top, called “Zadar Mars” and “Zadar Jupiter”. The origin of the stone is from Popovic near Benkovac, and it was made by Marinko Katusa. “Zadar Mars” is reddish-orange with shades of gray was taken away by the winner. “Zadar Jupiter” is white-gray, which “spill” over each other and makes the trophies and extremely valuable symbol of the tournament. Such trophies were not chosen by chance, because the beauty and quality of our natural limestone has long been known outside the borders of Croatia. They are a little bit heavy but very beautiful and I hope the players will keep the tournament in good memory and speak about it in 20 years.
Off-the court, players were part of a special campaign.
We wanted to give something back to the local community, so our staff and the players were engaged in a tree planting project. A couple of players took part in planting 15 olive trees, which has been a national initiative for many years. More than 60,000 trees have already been planted. The players received a certificate for it. I hope they enjoyed this moment.
Will there be more ATP Challenger Tour event in Croatia this season?
The ATP Challenger Tour will continue in Croatia with the second edition of the Split Open followed by another event in Zagreb. This is a very good year for us here, having four Challenger events plus one ATP tournament in Umag. In addition, there will be about six ITF World Tennis Tour events taking place in Croatia. I hope that we can help our local players with these tournaments having the opportunity to play on home soil and to improve themselves. Frane Nincevic for example is from Zagreb and one of our best local players, who could improve his ranking position thanks to the points he earned here.
Will we see a second edition next year?
I hope that we will continue with this tournament over the next years. There will be another edition in 2022 and I hope at even higher level. Many partners and sponsor will remain on board with the goal to become an ATP Tour event within the next five or six years.
Thank you and all the best.