If you didn’t know any better, you would think Frances Tiafoe’s quote just might be the new slogan for the Sarasota Open.
“It can’t be that good!” the 19-year-old American shouted during a Tuesday night match at United Tennis Academy.
Now, his words are immortalized on T-shirts at the area’s annual ATP Challenger Tour event. The Sarasota Open and Fine Designs, the custom shirt company providing apparel for the tournament, began giving fans the option to add Tiafoe’s quote to any piece of apparel they’d like to buy at the tournament.
“It was another thing, why not?” said Paul Stefoglo, the Fine Designs employee who has been running the company’s sales tent in front of United Tennis this week. “The opportunity showed up, and why not take the opportunity.”
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The Sarasota Open is embracing its status as an internet meme after a match between Tiafoe, the No. 3 seed, and fellow American Mitchell Krueger was interrupted by the sounds of sex coming from the direction of the Conquistador Bay Club condominiums next door.
Tournament director Tony Driscoll said he has been inundated with media requests from across the world. The video has popped up or been referenced everywhere from Deadspin to “The Howard Stern Show,” from Business Insider to “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The tournament website has gotten about 6 million hits as of Friday afternoon. One video of the incident has more than 5 million views, and there are about half a dozen more with at least several thousand.
“That’s not something you can necessarily stop,” Driscoll said, “and you don’t necessarily want to.”
The tournament’s partnership with Fine Designs, which has an office in Sarasota, has been advantageous. As opposed to selling pre-printed shirts and jackets, Fine Designs customizes shirts on the spot using silkscreen printing. Fans can choose from a number of open logos or tennis slogans to imprint on their clothing item with prices ranging from $22-$75. On Thursday, Stefoglo created a new slogan on the spot.
Stefoglo talked with his manager, Dmitriy Pshichenko, and they decided to take advantage of the viral incident. Tiafoe’s quote, which effectively punctuated the event by sending the offenders into retreat, worked perfectly. Any item can add the quote for $5 more, although it’s not an available option online. It has been a popular attraction in the facility’s parking lot, although neither Driscoll nor Stefoglo disclosed how many had been sold.
Driscoll is already thinking about how to spin the incident forward, too. Once this tournament ends, he has an idea for another quote.
“The Sarasota Open,” he said, pointing to the shirt he’s wearing with Tiafoe’s quote on it. “It can be that good.”