Sinner and the others: this is how the love for tennis grows in Italy, only football has more fans
There are 660 thousand Fitp members, which also includes those who play padel. And Binaghi highlights the results of ticket sales for the Rome Internationals and the Turin Finals.
In Italy, for every two footballs there is a tennis racket, or perhaps a padel racket. It’s what everyone calls the “Sinner effect”. The latest census data in fact speaks of around 1.4 million footballers registered with the FIGC, but also around 660 thousand members of Fitp, the Italian tennis and padel federation. A phenomenon that could not even be predicted a few years ago, such enthusiasm for the racket in Italy had not been felt since the Seventies and Eighties, those of Adriano Panatta and the first Davis Cup won. To realize this, it is sufficient to compare the current data with those of 2001, the year of birth of Jannik Sinner: 660 thousand members at the end of 2023 (but a concrete estimate speaks of over 700 thousand at the beginning of 2024) against 129 thousand in 2001, but also 4.5 million practitioners (of which one million padel players) compared to 1.3 million in 2001, 12 thousand teachers compared to 1700 in 2001. If we talk about turnover, the growth is exponential: 15 million in 2001, 185 in 2023. While the economic-social benefits are estimated at 266 million (40% athletes, 34% spectators, 19% tourists, 7% foreign investors) of which 21 million from the “Sinner effect” alone. Which really exists, exists, is evaluated and studied as such.
From the Australian Open to the ATP Finals.
Moreover, since it entered the ATP circuit in the two-year period 2019-2020, which was obviously also affected by the pandemic, the number of members alone has doubled: 340 thousand in 2019, 325 thousand in 2020. It is above all at the box office that this “Sinner effect” can be seen first hand: over 46 thousand tickets have already been sold for the next ATP Finals in Turin with an increase of 233% compared to the same period a year ago, for the Internazionali in Rome the tickets sold were already 51 thousand at the beginning of last week. «The sales figures for the Internationals and, above all, for the Finals, are sensational and give us confirmation of the appreciation for the quality of Italian tennis and for our organizational skills», explained Fitp president Angelo Binaghi. And after the triumph at the Australian Open which certifies Sinner’s presence at the ATP Finals, tickets for the Turin event will be sold out even more.
The union between tennis and padel
Jannik is therefore the symbol of a movement in constant expansion at every level. For example, the union with the world of padel is proving to be successful. He is also bearing fruit from his investment in compulsory education: in 2024, 8 million will be allocated to the “Racchette in Classe” project, which will involve 400 thousand children playing tennis, padel, beach tennis and pickleball.
The desire for tennis is spreading unprecedentedly in the area. In Piedmont in particular, the Sinner effect was added to that for the ATP Finals, in 2023 there were 132,079 members compared to 90,341 in 2002, the number of children involved in “Racchette in Classe” almost doubled (97,228 compared to 59,063 in 2022). Throughout Italy, leading tennis clubs and schools are finding themselves having to manage increasingly long waiting lists with an occupancy rate of courts and instructors close to 100%.
«This is a trend that already started with Berrettini as a finalist at Wimbledon and which is now effectively exploding with Sinner. The champion is important, the Jannik effect closely reminds me of the Tomba effect for skiing or Luna Rossa for sailing”, explains Paolo Chinellato, director of the Virtus Tennis club in Bologna. He continues: «For the first time we had to have a limited number of members. And we have a waiting list of about 120 kids.” Similar situation for the Tennis Club Milan, as told by director Martina Alabiso who broadens the reasoning beyond the Sinner phenomenon: «In reality we have had to manage a waiting list for years now, but never as long as at this stage, estimated at 150 units . We then reached the saturation level of the members, we no longer see resignations from one year to the next, the occupation of the fields even exceeds 98%. But I think we need to go beyond Sinner, we believe that this moment is part of a broader rebirth of tennis, a safe sport that is enjoying excellent work on the part of the federation. Then, obviously, the champion helps.”
It will take a few more years to understand the true “Sinner effect” according to Rodolfo Lercari, president of the Genova 1893 Tennis Club: «Ours is a particular reality, we are the third oldest tennis club in Italy and we have always had numbers similar to the current ones. I think we still need two-three years before we understand what the real extent of this “Sinner effect” might be, and it is also clear how the whole movement is benefiting from it. Just as we will all enjoy the long wave of victory in the Davis Cup, also starring our member Arnaldi.” And then there is Rome, the heart of the movement. This is how Stefano Centi Colella, sporting director of the Parioli Tennis Club, expresses himself: «Ours is one of the most accredited schools in Italy, Cobolli is only the latest fruit of our nursery, we have always recorded important numbers. But the requests are constantly increasing, even before Sinner we experienced a great boost from the performances of the Roman Berrettini, the waiting lists are getting longer, clearly breaking through the wall of one hundred units. And I must say that padel is also giving great impetus, it is a rapidly expanding movement.”