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Stuttgart and Halle have perfect matches with sponsors

By Simone Kemler

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In Stuttgart and Halle, it is remarkable to follow sponsorship companies’ policies and their effect on the ATP tournaments in these locations.

Stuttgart’s first BOSS Open two years ago was a slightly strange experience, as the tournament had been so closely attached to Mercedes for decades. Somehow it was unthinkable that this would ever change.

Even when Mercedes-Benz AMG stepped down from being an overall ATP tour sponsor, its sponsorship of the “Mercedes Cup” tennis was continued, as Stuttgart is a “hometown match” with the car manufacturers.

But Mercedes surprisingly decided it was time to get out of sponsoring tennis completely to solely focus on motor sports.

The BOSS Open centre court ready for a semi final. Photo: Simone Kemler

So, another company based in the Baden Württemberg region stepped up to fill the gap in 2022. The clothing company BOSS, which is also based in the Stuttgart area, took over the naming rights sponsorship. It is unknown if their financial commitment is comparable to that of Mercedes.

Luckily, Italian player Matteo Berrettini – BOSS’s very own brand ambassador – won the event in the first year of its rebranding as the BOSS Open.

This year, he advanced to the final again but was beaten by Jack Draper; at 22, the new No. 1 for Great Britain.

Matteo Berrettini at the 2024 BOSS Open. Photo: Simone Kemler

Not only did Draper play well, he has a pleasant presentation off court. It seems BOSS has turned this event into a stylish “happening”.

“We are proud to be able to perfectly showcase the brand here around the ATP tournament in Stuttgart” said tournament director Edwin Weindorfer when the BOSS sponsorship was first announced.

This year, their influence was very visible, with fashionable merchandise and a lifestyle village within the venue.

Jack Draper with his BOSS Open trophy. Photo: BOSS Open

It must be conceded that this has become a reality, and even a necessity in tennis. Most people do not come ‘only’ for the sport. The entertainment off-court is increasingly important to tournaments, particularly the 250, 500 and 1000 events, which need to create an image that the Grand Slams already have and are careful to mould to their liking and protect.

Tournaments are also facing many challenges in keeping fans, as the variety of other leisure activities are endless. The youngest generation of fans (i.e. children who are brought along by their parents) need more to do at a tournament than “simply” watching the matches.

The term ‘Tennistainment’ was invented for the Gerry Weber Open (now the Terra Wortmann Open) in the little town of Halle (Westfalen). Showbiz heavyweights like Ray Garvey and Sarah Connors have visited this tournament to entertain spectators and sponsors.  

The semi final Gala night was THE society ticket of the year. It was a pleasure to see the parade of the latest fashion trends and the variety acts performing, often in the company of the top tennis players.        

Roger Federer at the 2012 Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Photo: Juergen Hasenkopf

The tournament formed a special bond with Roger Federer, even naming a lane after him. This “lifetime contract” relationship was a masterstroke, as the Swiss is fluent in German, which helped the region enormously to relate to him and the event.

German tennis stars Sascha Zverev and Jan Lennard Struff, as well many others, commit to playing the tournament and, whenever possible, tournament director Ralf Weber supports young German hopefuls with wild cards.

What is always remarkable in Halle is the knowledgeable and enthusiastic capacity crowds; something that is appreciated by the players, who never tire of praising them.

Centre court at the Terra Wortmann Open on semi final day. Photo: Simone Kemler

When the Gerry Weber company had to withdraw from the tournament after 28 years due to its financial concerns, and the replacement title sponsor Noventi Health SE only lasted for two editions of the event, it was lucky for the region that local IT company Wortmann AG was able to step up to take over the sponsorship in 2022.

Wortmann AG remains the naming rights sponsor of the Terra Wortmann Open and the successful partnership with OWL Sport & Event GmbH & Co. KG will continue. The Hüllhorst based company has since twice extended its contract, and is now committed to the event until 2025.

Sven Wortmann of the company’s supervisory board says, “Since taking over the naming rights for the tournament, our brand awareness has increased significantly. In addition, attending the tournament is an absolute highlight for our business partners from all over the world.”

Title photos by Simone Kemler

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