Karl Budge - the man behind the ASB Classic
The upcoming ASB Classic has never looked better, with the 2017 tournament full of international tennis stars and glitzy lifestyle events.
It wasn’t always that way though. The man behind it all, Karl Budge, describes the transformation of the event as going from being like a ‘‘Toyota Camry to a shiny, modern BMW’’.
Budge grew up in the tennis world and worked for the Australian Open as a sponsorship manager and the Women’s Tennis Association as head of sales and marketing before becoming the ASB Classic tournament director. He brought over the idea of incorporating food and fashion into the tournament, as well as glamourous parties, to make it more than just a sports event.
This year’s event was the first one to have a dedicated new fan area, which will be doubled in size in 2017, featuring an additional big screen, more bars and restaurants and live music. And of course, Budge also secured the appearances of world number one Serena Williams, sister Venus and former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic. Good relationships were crucial to bringing the big name players over.
‘‘I’ve been in tennis for 12 years. It helps that I’m Facebook friends [with the players]. I can have a chat to Ana’s father as much as I can to her agent.’’
ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge wants the event to be one that both tennis and non-tennis fans will flock to.