Christina Mihaela Carare resigned from a position as project manager to make her dream of creating a tennis website a reality. The ambition to establish Norway’s newest tennis portal has attracted attention far beyond the country´s borders.
– I do not want to oust other actors, but rather contribute to a continued the positive development that tennis has had in Norway, says tennis coach and tennis player in Arendal tennis club, Christina Mihaela Carare (30).
Christina is currently in a planning phase where she works with the business model, researching potential partners, planning network structure and content. She gets her inspiration from and is in dialogue with both Norwegian and international players in the tennis and fitness industry.
That’s how she came into contact with sports event- and event manager in Northern Vision, Anders Borg. Anders is tournament president and founder of Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament, Europe’s longest running and largest international exhibition event in tennis.
Anders has since the start of the tournament in 2002 introduced the audience to tennis talents from an young age such as Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Eugenie Bouchard – who later went on become some of the best players in the world.
The tournament also houses tennis veterans such as John McEnroe, Marion Bartoli and Virginia Wade.
– Even with careful planning, as a newly established entrepreneur I cannot predict what opportunities and challenges lie around the corner. This is very exciting, I’m looking forward enormously to the experience, says Christina.
According to the Norwegian Tennis Association there are 25 733 tennis players registered within the association in Norway, in 142 tennis clubs. Far from all who play tennis are however members of the clubs. Surveys conducted on behalf of the Norwegian Confederation of Sports indicates that the number of active tennis players can be at least three times as high as membership figures show, since not everyone who plays tennis are members of Association of Tennis. Norwegian Tennis Association undertook on it´s side in 2011 calculation that show the capacity of the clubs’ facilities can receive – and give a good offer – to over 50 000 individuals if the locations are used optimally.
– These figures indicate that there is a huge growth potential for the number of tennis players in Norway, at all levels. The federation and tennis clubs aim to take good care of all members and continually seek to develop for the better. My vision is that the new portal will be a supplement, and reinforce, the work they do, by giving tennis enthusiasts access to informative and entertaining tennis related information online. The tennis portal aims to be an online tennis destination for tennis players and tennis clubs in Norway, says Christina.
Christina´s goal is to help continue to develop tennis in a positive direction in Norway, spread tennis joy and encourage an active and social lifestyle:
– I strongly believe that a unifying tennis portal can be a good tool to bring clubs and tennis players ‘closer’ to each other. Team exchanges and cooperation amongst the clubs is something that can raise both competence and activity level in Norway. For tennis players, there will be a venue to gather and cultivate interest, outside of tennis court, says Christina.
Contribute to development
Tennis has become a lifestyle for Christina. She started playing tennis actively at Arendal Tennis club for barely three years ago – when she was 27 – an age where so many female tennis players choose to put the racket on the shelf. After three championship titles grew both her ambition to become a better tennis player – and to start Norway’s new tennis portal.
– The Norwegian Tennis Association has since its establishment in 1909 has been a unifying body for tennis-Norway. The association already does a good job on tennis.no and works visible online for all tennis enthusiasts. My goal is to create a supplementary portal to existing Norwegian tennis related sites, focusing on services and functions for the benefit of tennis clubs and tennis players, says Christina adding:
– I still have a long way to go, but this I have a strong belief in my vision. It takes time to collect “all” threads, but I do not give up until I have examined all possibilities to enable the dream. In March this year her choice to quit her job as project manager in order to follow her dream of turning her passion for tennis into a living became front-page news in Agderposten.
– The timing felt very right for me to bet on my vision. I have extensive research amongst Norwegian tennis players, I know what there is more need of and desire for in the market, states Christina, who is originally from Romania but has lived in Norway since she was 13.
Tennis veteran praises
Independent surveys that Christina has made amongst Norwegian tennis players show that they want better offers on tennis equipment (prices, selection, product information), as well as information on tennis-related training, technique tips, nutrition tips, mental coaching.
– I have so many thoughts and ideas, based on the market research and my own experience, that it can at times be overwhelming, says the tennis entrepreneur with a smile.
– I believe that there is much I can contribute with in a positive manner, in close cooperation with professionals in the various fields. In this way I want to make it easier, more accessible for tennis players at all levels to find technique advice, tips, inspiration and entertainment in one place, explains Christina.
The ambition and vision has been noticed within the tennis community. Tennis veteran, honorary member and honorary coach at Arenal Tennis Club throughout 23 years, Milan Knezevic, has only praises to say about Christina and her initiative.
– This is a nice thing to do for tennis-Norway. There is always room for improvement, and for someone that will help to develop tennis in a positive direction. I think many are going to be pleased to have a complementary offering online, says Milan. With tennis experience that extends through a career of over 40 years, Knezevic has worked closely with the positive changes that the sport has undergone in Norway up to date.
Increasing membership statistics, increasing activity amongst the youngest players, and better results for Norwegian tennis players playing internationally than Norway has seen in many years indicates that Norwegian tennis is experiencing a positive development. The Norwegian Tennis Association has also in recent years established new and very popular concepts for the youngest children, and carried out extensive projects related to coach education, facility development, tennis school and state investment programs.
Knezevic emphasizes, however, that he sees as a growing trend in the world of tennis as a future problem:
– My experience with tennis collegues from nations such as Germany, and after even having played there, is that tennis interest has shifted from large cities to small towns. This is a problem that will soon be knocking on doors also in Norway, says Knezevic.
There is a huge growth potential for tennis in small towns, and measures must be implemented to enable this:
– There must be built more sports facilities that have room also for tennis, so more people can play, says Knezevic. With allocated space for three tennis courts in the planning of new sports halls in small towns, will “more than enough” of the town´s inhabitants have the opportunity to learn to play tennis and cultivate interest, says Milan.
– I had once up to 18 children on one tennis court, and I simply did not have space to take on more in tennis school that hour – and demand was the where, says Milan.
Taking measures such as planning with tennis courts in new sports halls, will enhance the sport as a sport that can be played year round. Should new sports facilities and tennis facilities be built in conjunction with schools, these should however stay open also during school holidays, says Milan.
Christina was even one of Milan’s pupils, a short time before she first arrived in Norway. About the tennis entrepreneur, Milan says:
– Christina is a young lady with a backbone, energetic, has a will of steel and an own ability to think in new ways and to think big. She is not afraid to look for and find inspiration beyond club or country borders. I’ve got faith in her and the vision for a tennis portal geared toward the individual tennis player and towards people seeking an active and sociable lifestyle, says Milan.
Tennis, sponsors and PR
From the 1st until the 22nd of June Christina will assist the Northern Vision team and it´s CEO Anders Borg during the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament. Primarily she will work closely with the tournaments communication channels such as website and newsletters, as well as with their presence on social media.
– This stay will give me a very good experience when it comes to talking to public, private and commercial companies and to work closely with activities related to sponsors and activation of sponsorship. I can not wait to be hands-on in very many organizational aspects of the tournament!
– It will be very exciting, informative and fun! I thank Anders very much for this opportunity. I look forward to learning from Anders and his team, and feel the pulsating (tennis) life that belongs in this international tournament. I’m also looking forward to taking with me the impulses of the tennis-Norway and in the planning of the tennis portal, says Christina.
Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament has been a warming up-turf in preparation for Wimbedon for several known tennis names throughout This year Iranian superstar and trickster, Mansour Bahrami and three times Grand Slam winner in doubles Peter McNamara will be participating in the exhibition. During a press conference recently, it was unveiled that nr. 74 in the world, Aljaz Bedene, has chosen to participate in the tournament. This despite the fact that the tradition of top 100 ATP players is to play at Queen’s Club in London to prepare for Wimbledon.
The 25-year-old from Slovenia was recently granted British citizenship. Bedene is now no. 2 in UK, only passed in men’s rankings by Andy Murray.
– I am very happy that I’m playing in Liverpool this year. It’s such a famous city, and now I have the opportunity to personally show tennis fans from around the world my abilities, which is very important to me, says Bedene in a press release.
Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament
– The tournament celebrates it´s 14th year in 2015
– Since it´s inauguration in 2002 the exhibition has housed tennis legends such as – John McEnroe, Marion Bartoli, David Ferrer og Greg Rusedski
– The tournament has also introduced the audience to young tennis talents that later went on to become some of the best players in the world, such as Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Laura Robson and Eugenie Bouchard
– 2015 will be the second year that it will be held at Liverpool Cricket Club
– Tickets can be bought at www.ticketquarter.co.uk, www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.liverpooltennis.co.uk
– Tournament sponsors include Liverpool Hope University, Merseyrail, BMW Williams, Hilton Liverpool, Crabbies, Medicash, Mazars, Liverpool City Council, Kenyon Fraser, e-blueprint, Northern Vision, the LTA and Liverpool Vision