The exhibition featuring two tennis phenoms headlines the weeklong invitational tournament in Athens, Greence showcasing the sport’s up-and-comers around the world.
As the years go by, the fine-tuning of athletes begins earlier and earlier. There’s no better example of this than the game of tennis, where youth academies have primed some of the world’s best players for competition at an incredibly early age.
Two glowing examples are world No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz and budding star Carlos Alcaraz. The former began his rise up the ranks at the age of 19, captured his first Masters 1000 last season at the age of 23, and famously eliminated Roger Federer in the 2021 Wimbledon quarterfinals. The latter won his first ATP title in 2021 at the age of 18 and ran to the quarterfinals of the US Open, beating world No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas along the way.
As Boardroom can exclusively announce, the two will meet in an exhibition match at the IMG Future Stars Invitational Tournament this spring at the TATOÏ Club in Tsitsipas’ home country of Greece, where tennis has reached new heights in recent years with his success and the rise of Maria Sakkari.
IMG will put on the tournament from April 25-May 1 featuring 48 of the best boys’ and girls’ tennis players in the world. The action will air on Tennis Channel here in the United States.
“We put a competition committee together with the mission to find the very best under 12 players in the world,” Max Eisenbud, the senior vice president of IMG Tennis, told Boardroom. “We used the entire IMG network, relationships at all the best academies in the world, and we also received some great entries from our call for submissions. The selection committee has been meeting for the last couple of months and [has] some very tough decisions to make.”
The aim of this tournament, Eisenbud said, was to help guide these young players and assure they have whatever they need to realize their full potential.
“We thought it was our duty as leaders in the sport to provide an environment for these young players, parents and coaches to come together to compete,” he said.
The week will feature speeches from WTA, ATP, Nike, and IMG executives, among others. In addition to the young players who were selected based on a video application process, the tournament will also grant two wild card invitations to Greek residents as the country continues to grow its tennis program.
Every selected player will notably have their accommodations, food, and recovery equipment taken care of.
“I would have enjoyed this experience a lot,” Hubert Hurkacz told Boardroom. “It would have been very special. I think any 12-year-old tennis player would dream of traveling to Athens and play against some of the best players in their age group from around the world.
“The level is very impressive! I don’t think I would have been able to hang with some of the kids that are playing in the event when I was 12.”
A sport as globally celebrated as tennis deserves a developmental focus such as this. Hearing from champions of the the game in addition to executives across several industries that make it go certainly set these 48 lucky budding tennis stars on the right path and help them realize their full potential.