The Guinness Book of Records. What would you do to see your name in the table of contents? One man wanted to have the biggest collection of key laces. He contacted the officials with confidence only to discover that another fanatic had a 1000 more pieces. So he started collecting vintage wooden tennis racquets and the Guinness dream soon turned into one of a kind museum.
HOW IT WORKS
There are no opening hours on the museum’s website and it is not due to negligence. If you want a tour, you need to call the founder. He is very flexible and you can arrange the time of the meeting. You must buy tickets online afterwards. Their website also comes in the English version.
The founder himself, who also guides the tour, claims not to be exceptionally fluent in English, but said he would also be able to present in this language.
The museum is situated in Galeria Gagarinka, a grey, L-shaped building with hints of red, on Gagarinova Street. If you come by car, however, it is better to come from Mierová Street as it is much easier to find a parking place there. You can get here easily by public transport – take the trolleybus 202 from “Nemocnica sv. Michala” next to Kamenne Square and get off at the “Brodna stop”. It is a request stop though. The ride takes approximately 12 minutes.
If you get to the front of the gallery from Gagarinova, you will see the sign “Tenisové múzeum”. It will lead you to a glass door located underneath the building. Just there and the founder will see you. In case he does not show up, you can always call him.
The exhibition takes up one entire floor. Before entering the main room, you get to see a couple of memorabilia from both retired and active Slovak tennis players, including Dominika Cibulková. There are photographs on the walls capturing the greatest moments of Slovak tennis. There is a huge replica of the racquet Miloš Mečíř played with when he won the Olympic Games in Seoul in 1988.
The door gets unlocked and you get to see a large room with a miniature tennis court in the middle, a nice little touch. The walls are completely covered with vintage tennis racquets. There are also showcases, posters, books, magazines, all of them dating from as early as the end of the 19th century.
WHY IS THE TENNIS MUSEUM SPECIAL
We need to mention that only true tennis fans, or perhaps sport history buffs, will get the satisfaction from this exhibition. Fortunately, one of our members is a tennis fan and he could not wipe the excitement off his face the entire time. No wonder – he could move around the exhibition holding an autographed Novak Djokovic’s racquet – a former world nr. 1.
There is this “wow” moment as you enter. It’s like an international cocktail party – items come from all around the world and you can mingle. Feel free to touch and feel the history, comical at times, connect with the pieces. Unlike in other museums, there are no “Don’t touch” signs here. The inventory ranges from mass produced racquets through experiments in design to rare items that were in production only for 3 years before the war and are hard to find.
The founder has a great overview about each item, he can tell you when and where he got hold of it. He never stopped talking and you can see that he is proud of the collection.
And it is not only the racquets. There is a vintage line marking machine which kids can move around, balls from the time when they were white and rubber was an unknown. Because wood is organic and can change shape after time, we were surprised to discover frame straighteners, in which the racquets used to be stored.
Fun fact: Tennis was a portable sport. People took the whole kit, including the net and the line marking machine, went to a park, set up a tennis court and played.
The place is also children friendly. Since the racquets are wooden, the founder lets the kids touch them. You only need to watch your offsprings around the glass showcases. Kids can also test their tennis skills against a computer in the separate room. We did not try this feature ourselves but the founder’s daughter was there the entire time playing.