This year’s Miami Open was full of surprises, record-breaking milestones achieved on-court and many firsts occurring around the grounds.
Match highlights from the men’s and women’s “5th Grand Slam” finals held at the Hard Rock Stadium March 21-April 3 included Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz winning his first Master 1000-level event at the tender age of 18, Poland’s first world No. 1 Iga Swiatek claiming the “Sunshine Double” (she also won the BNP Paribas Open two weeks prior) and a handful of up-and-comers making a name for themselves in tennis paradise.
Usually when the top stars walk around the grounds, they’re treated like royalty. But for a fleeting moment, Volkl’s VP of Sales and Promotions for Florida and South America had a taste of just that. As Alcaraz entered the dining hall of the players’ lounge, he offered Volkl Tennis’ Ivan Rojas to instead go first – a gesture that many would view as cordial and very much humble given his young years and celebrity status in the tennis world.
Jokingly, one of Rojas’ colleagues said, “don’t ever forget that the future number one opened the door for you.” Low and behold, a few days later and Alcaraz cemented his status as the biggest up-and-coming stars by winning the whole tournament.
“That’s an atmosphere that’s priceless; I was for a few days having lunch right next to the players,” said Rojas while reminiscing on the two weeks that he had behind-the-scenes access at the Open.
In between rubbing elbows with the best of the best in tennis, Rojas acted like a museum curator – setting up Volkl’s Tennis Plaza booth well before the first ball was struck at the tournament.
“It all starts with educating players on the product – the team is there to make sure we communicate the best vibration-grip dampening system on the market,” says Rojas, who has been a part of the tournament since 2005 and began putting all of the pieces together roughly one week before opening day. “My job involves displaying the product in the booth and making sure the product looks presentable and organized so that consumers are understanding of the technology.”
Every step of the way, Volkl Tennis became closely involved with the tournament action as well as introduced the brand to tennis fans roaming the grounds in search of a new stick to use at home. South America and Florida’s sales and marketing guru Ivan Rojas could be spotted within Volkl’s booth lined with V-cell racquets, many of which flew off the shelves and into the hands of polished players as well as tennis newbies. A common theme that resonated during the tournament: Why choose Volkl?
“In the world of tennis, we are growing exponentially,” says Rojas of working with Volkl Tennis. “The number one reason I present the product is because our racquets are well-known as the brand that has the friendliest racquets for consumers. That was how the brand was born and we offer the best technology.”
Throughout the tournament, Rojas found people visiting the booth saying how thrilled they were to see Volkl well-represented and positioned, and that it wouldn’t be the same without the brand there; and that this year stood out from any other, as far as Rojas was concerned.
“This is best Miami Open I’ve ever been to – in terms of the facility – they’ve built four different towers and a bar with a disco ball in it,” says Rojas, who admittedly didn’t have time to dance under that mirror ball this time around.
It’s an event that Rojas looks forward to being a part of next year already – regardless of whether Alcaraz thinks to open the door for him again.