Barcelona“We have a population of 10,000 inhabitants and we have a club with 1,500 members. It’s a small miracle to have a tournament of this size,” explains Xavier Ponsatí, the director of the La Bisbal Tennis Club, in La Bisbal d’Empordà. In recent years, women’s tennis has added an appointment to the calendar in the Baix Empordà, with a young tournament that is still growing. “The idea was born seven years ago to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our club. 30 events were organized and one of them was the tournament. We traveled all over the state to learn and it gave us such a positive energy that each we want more, “he added. More than 25 players have passed on the clay of the Empordà slopes, a land that comes especially from France, and have become among the 30 best in the world, one of which, of course, Paula Badosa from the Empordà . With just a few days to go before the start of Roland Garros, many players have chosen the La Bisbal tournament to prepare for the French event, taking advantage of details such as using exactly the same balls as in the Paris tournament.
This year’s edition, the sixth, will be between May 8 and 15, with a video on streaming on all tracks and two matches a day on Eurosport. “We are the most important women’s tennis tournament in Catalonia and the fourth in Spain”, explains Ponsatí, who recalls that this year the tournament increases its financial endowment, up to 100,000 euros, and rises in category. An endowment that has been achieved thanks to an exponential growth year after year since the first edition, in 2016, when 10,000 were distributed. “In six years we have come this far, joining forces and with sustained growth. Our goal is to establish ourselves as one of the leading tournaments in the state and to be able to make the leap to the WTA in the future. We want to be the equivalent of Godó in women, but we still have a long way to go together with public institutions “, adds Ponsatí, a man forged in the world of banking who was in charge of buying the land of a club which grows every year. Now they are planning the pool. When the tournament arrives, a lot of facilities need to be built to offer all the services, from catering to leisure, to spectators, players and the press.
In recent years, players such as Paula Badosa, born in Begur, and Bianca Andreescu, the winner of the 2019 US Open against Serena Williams, have passed through the facilities of the La Bisbal Tennis Club. “Everyone remembers Paula’s time at this tournament; it’s special to see her now among the best in the world. She’s proud to see the lineup of players improve every year,” said Marta Sanchez, tournament director and tennis player.
In this edition, the participants will be between 70 and 200 in the world of the WTA world ranking, with 22 countries represented and some of the best local players, such as Alina Bolsova, a tennis player of Moldovan origin but raised in Palafrugell; the Swiss resident in Barcelona Rebeka Masarova or Vicky Jiménez, one of the great promises of the circuit born in Andorra. In addition, the tournament will also feature two players who have been in the Top 10: Sara Errani, a Roland Garros finalist in 2012, and Coco Vandeweghe, a semifinalist in Australia and New York.
The club will organize two events as part of the tournament. In this sixth edition will take place the Inclusive tennis day, scheduled for May 6 and focused on bringing wheelchair tennis to local schools. And on Friday, May 13, a so-called day will be organized Equality in sport, which will consist of a round table on the visibility of women in professional tennis and will feature the participation of personalities such as Núria Pau, Olympic skier and promoter of the first Catalan women’s alpine skiing team, or Tània Verge, Minister of Equality and Feminisms of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Commitment to innovation and technology
In La Bisbal, they also have something else to offer: they can use Foxtenn technology on the central court, an electronic judge system called line calling system (Hawk’s eye) certified by the highest bodies of tennis in the world and is able to provide images of the real bot and the exact moment of contact of the ball with the ground.