In Argentina, tennis is enjoying an unprecedented boom. A growing number of people are learning?
In Argentina, tennis is enjoying an unprecedented boom. A growing number of people are learning to play the game and the tennis industry is reaping rich rewards.
SYNOPSIS: Stars like Guillermo Vilas, in the light shirt playing here against Rumania's Ilie Nastase, have done much to promote the game in Argentina.
Coaching sessions for children as well as adults are held throughout the country, and qualified coaches are in heavy demand.
Interest in the game is so great that enthusiasts often have a long wait before they can get a court, particularly at weekends.
The tennis boom began three years ago, but some famous victories by the Argentines in international tournaments this year gave it a new boost. In April, they beat the United States in the American zone final of the Davis Cup.
This was the first time in the Cup's history that Argentina had beaten the Americans in a zone final. In September at Forest Hills, Vilas won the US Open tennis championship after beating the defending champion Jimmy Connors of the United States. Another fine victory for the Argentine ace was in the French championships final last summer.
Sports goods stores are doing a roaring trade, and the Argentine Tennis Association says it now has about 250 affiliated clubs. In the capital, Buenos Aires, alone there are nearly 2,500 tennis courts. Many clubs are oversubscribed and have stopped accepting new members. Other have long waiting lists.
Some clubs have even acquired soccer grounds and turned them into tennis courts to meet the demand.
The 25-year-old Vilas, who beat Nastase to win the four-man international tournament in Buenos Aires on October 21st, enjoys a following normally reserved for pop stars.