SBD/January 14, 2013/Events and Attractions

Australian Open Looks To Promote Tennis To Chinese Fans Through Digital Media

Li Na promotes tennis in China, where about 14 million play the game
The Australian Open is making an “unprecedented push into the sport's new frontier and doing it via a handful of digital platforms” in order to “capitalise on a booming interest in tennis in China,” according to Adam Cooper of the Melbourne AGE. Tennis Australia staff “will publish news stories, updates, photographs, audio, video clips and live scoring” on media outlets such as social networking website Yuku, Sina Weibo -- "the Chinese equivalent of Twitter" -- and Tencent QQ “in a bid to take the Open to Beijing and beyond.” China “boasts one of the best women's players” in Li Na, but the sport is “only starting to take off in the country” with an estimated 14 million participants. Tennis Australia Digital & Publishing Manager Kim Trengove said that it “makes sense for the Australian Open to be promoted heavily in China, given the tournament's position as the grand slam of Asia and the Pacific, and that Australia's geographic proximity to Asia gives it advantages over the host nations of the other three majors.” Tencent QQ, one of the “most popular portals in China, also has a seemingly insatiable appetite for everything to do with the Australian Open, and will send four journalists to Melbourne to cover the event.” In addition, Tennis Australia has “employed Chinese language students from universities across Melbourne to help market Melbourne Park back to their homeland” (Melbourne AGE, 1/13).

NEW LOOK: The AGE’s Cooper in a separate piece reported stage one of a redevelopment plan has been “completed at Melbourne Park in time for the Australian Open, and one of the featured developments are elevated viewing spots overlooking the practice courts.” Viewed from a “new public area built around Hisense Arena,” the courts are part of the National Tennis Centre, the “new home for Australia’s brightest tennis prospects.” But during the Open they “will be used as practice courts where fans will get a closer look at the top players.” The National Tennis Centre, which has “eight indoor courts and 13 outdoor courts, is the standout of the [US$386M] redevelopment works that began” in early ’11. The project is “meant to ensure Melbourne will host the Australian Open” until ’36 and is “set to give visitors a new look over the next few years” (Melbourne AGE, 1/13).
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