Roger Federer, SpongeBob Square Off at Kids Tennis Day

by Jacqui Caruana, Senior Events Manager, Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand

After his warm-up with Roger Federer at Kids Tennis Day 2013 in Australia, SpongeBob SquarePants can add the tennis superstar to the growing list of athletes and celebrities he’s squared off with on the field or court (including the likes of FLOTUS Michelle Obama and David Beckham). The free family event gave kids a day of activities and a chance to interact with their tennis heroes, from Federer to Serena Williams.

Produced by Nickelodeon for the first time with Tennis Australia, Kids Tennis Day 2013 was the biggest of its kind at Melbourne Park and helped promote MLC Tennis Hot Shots (MLCTHS), Tennis Australia’s junior development program, on the weekend before the beginning of the Australian Open.

The largest drawcard of Kids Tennis Day was the Rod Laver Arena Spectacular, which featured Nickelodeoncharacters SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Starfish, Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego, as they played tennis with some of the sport’s biggest names, including Federer, Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ana Ivanovic. Plus, it was hosted by the network’s Luke and Wyatt and featured a rocking performance from music star Guy Sebastian.

Luke and Wyatt introduced the players and grouped them into two teams: Team Doraand Team SpongeBob. The players proceeded to entertain the crowd by showcasing an array of trick shots and kidding around.

Crowd favourite Federer amused fans by warming up with SpongeBob before playing, and at one point put his racquet down to undertake ball boy duties, while Tsonga showed off his ability to fire shots from deep in the court – through his legs. Djokovic, well known for his showmanship, had the crowd roaring with laughter at his antics.  Fans were entertained by his high-pitched and excessive grunting, his head-butting of the ball over the net, and a brief performance of the Gangnam Style dance, joined by Williams.

The crowd loved the long rallies between all the players, which included smashes and lobs exchanged ping-pong style.

Nickelodeon’s GM Ben Richardson and MLCTHS leader Craig Morris said they were thrilled with the day, with the close-to-capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena surpassing the previous year’s numbers beyond expectations.

“Kids Tennis Day has been deemed a huge success and proven to be a wonderful partnership between Nickelodeon and Tennis Australia,” said Richardson. “The star power of the tennis players combined with the popularity of the Nickelodeon characters certainly made it an unforgettable day of free entertainment for families.”

Elsewhere on the grounds, the outside courts were brimming with youngsters having a hit under the eye of MLC Tennis Hot Shots coaches, while others enjoyed the activity zone or had their faces painted. Five hundredMLC Hot Shots tennis racquets were given out at Kids Tennis Day to encourage kids to play the sport.

Check out the video below for more, courtesy of Channel Seven News.

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