Introducing tennis to a younger audience is the aim of a 12-city tennis tour put on jointly by Cartoon Network, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and the ATP Tour, a worldwide men’s professional tennis circuit. Cartoon Network SMASH Tennis debuts this spring, featuring live appearances by cartoon characters from shows such as Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons and The Flintstones. The ATP SMASH tour existed for two years prior to hooking up with Cartoon Network. Headlining pro tennis players who will participate this year include Boris Becker and Andre Agassi.
‘The TIA has been looking for a way to promote the game to a younger audience,’ says Pete Alfano, vice president of communications for the ATP Tour. ‘This year, not only will we have the participation of the players, but also the cartoon characters from Cartoon Network.’ Spokespersons from Cartoon Network say the combination of popular cartoon characters and tennis will be a positive influence on kids around the country.
The traveling attraction includes a ‘cartoonized’ rolling truck equipped with transportable tennis courts, interactive games and inflatable characters. Cartoon Network SMASH Tennis is partially funded by the tour’s players, who will donate more than US$1 million of their 1997 prize money to support youth tennis.