International tennis is coming back to New Zealand with the ASB Classic set to return to Auckland after a two-year Covid enforced hiatus.
While organisers are promoting more of the same, there’s a new tournament director and different challenges in the mix.
Hailing from Brittany, France and currently based in Dubai, new tournament director Nicolas Lamperin has been trying to get back to New Zealand for two decades.
“I first came to New Zealand back in 2001 as part of an exchange programme with my business school in France,” Lamperin says.
Since then, Lamperin has been in the tennis business. While he has some tournament experience, he’s mostly been a player agent.
He’s represented the likes of Gael Monfils and Stan Wawrinka, so knows personally what makes the Auckland event attractive to top players.
“The stadium is packed from day one until the end of the tournament which is very rare for a 250 event and I’m convinced that players are very receptive to this.”
Lamperin has big shoes to fill as previous director Karl Budge transformed the Kiwi event, attracting some of the sport’s biggest names.
Post-Covid the first job is ensuring players know it’s even on.
“I was in Paris last week, I’m going to Wimbledon next month and I’ll be at the US Open, just to make sure they get the message.”
As Wimbledon has taken a controversial ban of Russian players, the ASB Classic will take a more subtle approach.
“What we’ve told our partners is we’ll not go after Russian athletes and we will not give them wildcards.”
With Tennis New Zealand stepping in behind the scenes, it’s hoped more of those wildcards might end up with Kiwi athletes.