Growing the Game from Spain to Sarajevo: Mr. Juan Maria Tintore
We all know that tennis has players and fans spanning countries around the world. However it’s not just the international champions and worldwide news coverage that has made tennis one of the world’s most popular global sports. Behind the scenes, there are many dedicated administrators and promoters who have worked tirelessly to grow the game. Undoubtedly, one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated of these leaders is Mr. Juan Maria Tintore of Barcelona.
In addition to a career in the textile industry, Mr. Tintore spent much of his life working in and around tennis, with involvement and leadership at the Real Club de Tenis Barcelona-1899, Tennis Europe, International Tennis Federation, Spanish Tennis Federation, and the Centenary Tennis Clubs Association.
Although he’s proudly Spanish by birth, the people of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, thousands of miles, away proudly think of Mr. Tintore as one of their own as well.
For the past 15 or so years, Mr. Tintore has utilized tennis as a platform to help the city recover from its war-torn 1990s. In 1995, it came to Mr. Tintore’s attention that the youth of Sarajevo really needed something positive in their lives to rebuild after the war. Having spent his entire life around the sport, Mr. Tintore knew that tennis could help. Just two years later, and with no prior connections to the city, he personally delivered a large shipment of sports equipment to Sarajevo. Since that time, he’s visited more than 20 times, each time bringing more gear, other influential tennis fans, and most importantly, hope to the city. In 1997, he founded the RCT BARCELONA 1899 – SARAJEVO OPEN, a junior tennis tournament. Through Mr. Tintore’s leadership, the event is now one of the European Tennis Association's important tournaments for boys and girls ages 16 and under. Over the years, the event has attracted players from all over the world, including Croatian ATP World Tour star Marin Cilic, who played it as a junior.
Under the programs that Mr. Tintore has helped to create, many children of Sarajevo have learned to play tennis, and numerous have had earned scholarships to play tennis and study at universities around the world, including in the United States. Other young players have chosen to focus on their game, such as Halid Mekic, who approached Mr. Tintore to discuss his love for the sport, but his inability to pay for a prosthesis that would help him play. Through his tennis and Olympic games contacts, Mr. Tintore was able to get the finances necessary to pay for the prosthesis and the young athlete went on to earn medals at the Games – one of which he sent back to Mr. Tintore as a thank you.
In 2010, in recognition of all his work for the city, Mr. Tintore was named an Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo. Previously, the city has honored him with the Medal of the City of Sarajevo (2004) and in 2006 a Fan Club was established in his honor in Sarajevo. In 2008, Mr. Tintore was awarded the Golden Achievement Award, a prestigious recognition given jointly by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Federation to a person who has worked to grow the game internationally.
For fun or for career, tennis has a way of delivering joy to fans and players worldwide. The Hall of Fame extends our kudos and appreciation to Mr. Tintore for recognizing the joy and opportunity the sport has brought into his life, and extending it to so many others worldwide.