Teil der HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300
Preisgeld USD 210 000.–

19.–24. März 2024, St. Jakobshalle Basel

23. March 2024

«The Yonex Swiss Open has always held a high significance»

Philipp Kurz is somewhat of a fixture at the Yonex Swiss Open. For over two decades, he has been present at the Yonex booth in the foyer of the Basel tournament. The Zurich native and co-owner of YGmbH represents the Japanese supplier in Switzerland. In the interview, he explains what makes the Yonex Swiss Open so special and what he would wish for Swiss badminton.

Philipp Kurz, do you even have time to watch a game during the Yonex Swiss Open?

Philipp Kurz: Not really, as I am too busy at our Yonex booth in the foyer. However, I do manage to pick out a match occasionally and sit in the stands. I enjoy that a lot. I play badminton myself, and I have been doing so my whole life.

What significance do the Yonex Swiss Open hold for Yonex?

They hold great significance. The tournament in Basel is by far the most important event in Switzerland. That's why we've been involved for so many years—since we founded our company in 2003, representing Yonex in Switzerland. Here at St. Jakobshalle, the Swiss badminton scene and its key players come together, along with the players under contract with us. Additionally, we can showcase our latest developments in equipment at the foyer. We are very present at the tournament as the title sponsor and official supplier, providing equipment and stringing around 600 rackets during the week. We also supply the entire tournament equipment, including shuttles.

What makes the Yonex Swiss Open so special?

It's crucial that the Yonex Swiss Open and the All England in Birmingham form a sort of package, with Basel following right after. This ensures that many top players add Basel to their schedule after the All England. It also helps that the tournament organization is well-established, with the same people running it for years. This continuity is important. For example, working with Tournament Director Christian Wackernagel is extremely straightforward. We speak the same language because we both live and breathe badminton. And there's something else very special about the Yonex Swiss Open.

What would that be?

It's the possibility of sitting next to the world number one in the Asian restaurant here, or encountering players in the foyer whom you were just admiring on the court minutes before. That would be unthinkable in tennis. Everything there is quite isolated.

How long does the contract with the Yonex Swiss Open run?

Until 2025. But we are already looking into what happens after that.

Since you've been involved for so long, can you also describe how much the Yonex Swiss Open have changed over the years?

The tournament is not comparable to when we started. The layout and presentation have completely evolved. The event is extremely well-presented today. Many things have also improved for the players. Previously, matches were played on a multipurpose hall floor. That would be unimaginable today. But even back then, the best players in the world came to Basel. The Swiss Open always had a high standing.

Yonex is also present in tennis, as well as in golf, snowboarding, and cycling. Which sport is the most important for your company?

Yonex is primarily recognized worldwide as an equipment supplier for racket sports: namely badminton and tennis. In Switzerland, we are fortunate to have Stan Wawrinka and Belinda Bencic as our ambassadors. Belinda has been with Yonex since she was five years old. Stan joined us when he was ranked 33rd in the world. He has been and continues to be a great asset, winning three Grand Slam titles and the Davis Cup afterward. For instance, when he defeated Novak Djokovic at the 2015 French Open, we felt it tremendously. Martina Hingis was also under contract with us upon her comeback. That was also a fortunate coincidence.

In badminton, you lack such a flagship in Switzerland.

That's true, unfortunately. One must recognize that tennis in Switzerland has a much greater tradition as a sport. If a Swiss badminton player were to set winning an Olympic medal as a goal, it would be akin to a Dutch person saying they want to win the Olympic downhill skiing event. It's difficult...

... but not impossible. Spanish player Carolina Marin proves that one can become an Olympic champion and the world number one almost single-handedly.

Yes, she's a great example of what could be possible. But Carolina is an absolute exception. We are fortunate that she is under contract with Yonex.