Important to see tennis and wheelchair tennis as complementary

Esther Vergeer, tournament director of the World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, learned how to perform well under pressure studying our sport management program

Between 1998 and 2013, Esther Vergeer was the world number one in wheelchair tennis. She is a seven-time Paralympic champion and was voted Dutch disabled athlete of the year five times. She is now involved in the supervision of young tennis talents and is tournament director of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, which was recently held in Rotterdam

One of the aspects I always fought for is the integration of tennis and wheelchair tennis. They reinforce each other in various ways! The disabled sport has heaps of knowledge that the able-bodied tennis sport can benefit from. It’s therefore a good thing that the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam offers both. Since 2009, I have been director of the team that organizes the World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament. Our organizational team, which includes the sponsor ABN AMRO and the Ahoy venue, ensures that each edition is a success. My own experience as a wheelchair tennis player in major tournaments is also very useful, for example, to ensure that all facilities are available, allowing the players to perform at their best in the tournament.

Esther Vergeer - Master Sport Management

In 2013-14, I studied the Master in Sport Management at Johan Cruyff Institute, where I learned new management skills, including how to perform well under pressure. As a manager, that’s very different from when I played tennis! As an athlete, everything revolves around you and your agenda; as a manager, I have to deal with team colleagues, each with their own valuable input. I experience that dynamic interaction as something very positive. I also use a lot of knowledge from risk management. For example, when professional wheelchair tennis player Shingo Kunieda, the number two in the world, suddenly cancelled. This has great impact on the tournament and you have to know how to act as an organization team. You have to act pro-actively and consider various scenarios. I’m seeing that much clearer now.

Since 2009, the World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament has grown in several respects, with growth not only in the number of participants, but also in terms of integration. Nowadays, all the same facilities that are there for the non-handicapped players are all available to the wheelchair tennis players. Wheelchair tennis had to earn its place in the tournament; in the beginning nobody really knew what to expect. Now, there is more public interest. The audience is starting to recognize players and some people come specifically for wheelchair tennis. The wheelchair tennis tournament has become an essential part of the event, and that’s something I’m very proud of!

Telesport Scholarships
This interview was recently published in Telesport, a Dutch newspaper that is offering two scholarships – one for the Master in Sport Management and one for the Master in Coaching – for the 2016-17 academic year at Johan Cruyff Institute. By doing so, Telesport contributes to the mission of Johan Cruyff Institute to educate the next generation of leaders in sport management. Check it out by clicking here

Related study programs
Johan Cruyff Institute uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a
student interaction model. We aim for a mix of students from sports and business sectors, which also enables students to share their unique experiences and learn from each other. Students will engage actively in creative challenges that require effort, commitment and intuitive thinking. Visit these web pages to find out more about our Masters:

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