1990 Ulrich Pechtold loves to build a tennis hall with four courts in forchheim. In the same year, steffi graf won the australian open and reached the finals of the french and us open. Boris Becker reached the final at wimbledon.
20 years later, the ex-professional soccer player made artificial turf out of carpet pitches. Also in 2010, germany sent 69 tennis pros to the four grand slam tournaments, with andrea petkovic reaching the eighth finals in new york and daniel brands in london.
Soccer arena instead of tennis
Not only uli pechtold has remodeled. Many tennis halls in france have become soccer arenas or sports centers with beach volleyball, badminton and squash on offer. "For me it was a purely economic consideration", pechtold explains. In the 90s, tennis was played until 11 p.M., then the late evening hours and above all the young players fell away. "With the income from tennis, the sales in the gastronomy also decreased", reports the former player of the 1.FC nurnberg and spvgg greuther furth.
Pechtold's compromise proposal to keep two tennis courts was rejected by the TC and the spvgg jahn forchheim, but the 63-year-old still loves to keep at least one court. "But that didn't mix with the larm", says the man from forchheim, who shortly thereafter switched completely to fubball. Today, pechtold and the tennis players in forchheim can live with the solution: there is a roof at the jahn's outdoor facility for the winter months, and the hall operator compensates for the lack of income in the summer months, when soccer is critical, with mini-golf and bowling.
"I hope every year in march for a winter with snow", says pechtold mischievously. The mild winter of 2014/2015 had ruined his soccer business. The german tennis federation, on the other hand, is hoping to attract players like becker and graf. "Back then, everyone started with indoor tennis courts", pechtold remembers his start "now everyone is building fubball temples", he says and refers to the competition in eltersdorf and bubenreuth – also former tennis halls.
No more tennis in the sports park
The sport with the yellow felt ball can also no longer be played at the sportpark bamberg. Volker struckmeier and his wife anja took over the hall, which belongs to the city, as lessees in 2011. Where there were four tennis courts, there are now three soccer fields and two beach volleyball courts. "You used to be able to auction off the tennis lessons to the highest bidder. As a sportsman, I regret that.", says volker struckmeier, who used to be a passionate tennis player himself "but as a businessman, i look at the revenue per square meter." whereas in tennis he earns money from two or four players at the most, in soccer there are at least ten paying guests.
As with his colleague in forchheim, the income in the restaurant has also improved as a result. "Footballers are more sociable than tennis players", says struckmeier, who adds: "but there are also tennis halls that are doing well. Namely, if they were club-run and didn't involve personnel costs."
despite the decline in membership – TC bamberg, for example, had lost half of its members in recent years – the region had potential. "It is a matter of marketing. Florian mayer and philipp petzschner from bayreuth or philipp kohlschreiber, who played at the TC, could have been exploited much more", says struckmeier, who comes from northern germany. After all, basketball in bamberg also works "even though this sport has fewer members in germany than the alpine club, struckmeier explains. King fubball laughs at both figures.
An interview with Maximilian Marterer, budding tennis pro from Nurnberg
Maximilian Marterer certainly imagined his first participation in a grand slam tournament differently. After only three sets, the australian open adventure was over for him in the first qualifying round. He may be in good company with the collective failure of the more experienced german tennis pros, but the 20-year-old from nurnberg has an optimistic prognosis for himself as well as for german tennis.
Was the trip to melbourne, 20 hours away by plane, worth it for you??
Max marterer: limited to the performance at the australian open, certainly not. But I was already since the 28. December in the region, played a challenger tournament in new caledonia and qualified for the first round. I also reached the main draw at the ATP tournament in sydney, where I lost an even match 4-6, 4-6 to pablo cuevas from uruguay, who is number 41 in the world. A defeat is never a defeat, but it was a good experience.
You are currently ranked 249 on the ATP list. How much further up does it go?
My next goal is to play regularly the qualifying rounds of the grand slams. For that you have to be at position 230 or better. At the australian open I slipped in because of some cancellations. In the long term, I would like to establish myself in the top 50.
What was and is your plan for this ambitious goal??
I have been training at the tennisbase in oberhaching for a few years now. There is the base for the B squad of the german tennis federation. In other places, too, the support points have been pulled together – similar to fubball. Our coach is former pro michael kohlmann. We train for up to five hours a day, including conditioning sessions. I left the grammar school in oberasbach near nurnberg after the tenth grade to focus entirely on tennis.
That sounds like clear structures. Why have the german pros still been waiting since 1999 for a grand slam win, while tiny switzerland has the record winner in roger federer and another player in the top 10 in stan wawrinka??
Reforms are easier said than done. Roger federer is certainly a talent of the century. We also have many good players. Why it is not enough for a title, I can not say. The fact that none of the men were in the australian open after the second round was also due to bad luck. But I think it will be better soon. Alexander zverev, who was knocked out in the first round against co-favorite andy murray, could make it for example. But you can't expect miracles from him.
Have you also played against a caliber like andy murray? And how do you make the jump to the rough tournaments with rough names?
Apart from the duel with cuevas, I only have one encounter with the spanish player nicolas almagro, whom I defeated at the ATP in stockholm in october. I play mainly in ATP challenger and ITF futures tournaments, which are below the ATP world tour. With every win you work your way up the ladder. I have won four futures so far. Last year, I also played for SC uttenreuth in the 2nd division. I've been playing in the bundesliga, but the season only lasts four weeks.
The australian open continues until sunday. Who is your favorite among the men??
Novak djokovic. He was seldom in a better mood than at the moment.