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Ocean Currents

From My Beach Chair to the O2 Arena in London

My mission to help keep single-use plastic out of the ocean

Nitto ATP World Tour Finals - Day One
© ATP

Kevin Anderson is a professional tennis player from South Africa and currently ranked Number 5 in the world on the ATP Tour. A winner of six ATP titles, Anderson reached the 2017 US Open final, the 2018 Wimbledon final and qualified for the 2018 season-ending tournament in London as one of the eight best players of the year. Anderson resides in Gulf Stream, Florida, with his wife, Kelsey, and rescue dog, Lady Kady.

The importance of water in my life is immeasurable.

I never go to a practice without my large canteen of water or play a match on a hot day without going through a few liters to keep me hydrated. This is the same for all tennis players, which is why it’s no surprise to see large bins on the courts at tournaments overfilled with plastic bottles.

It never dawned on me the issue right in front of my eyes until I walked on the beach near my home and saw the same type of bottles littered all across the sand.

When you read the news about the ludicrous amount of trash in the ocean and when you see it every time you go to the beach, you start to ask yourself why and what can be done? Part of the reason my wife, Kelsey, and I moved to Florida was because of the beach—it provides not only a great place for a workout but also a dream location after a hard day of training. But the plastic bottles, plastic spoons and plastic bags that brush up against us on the sand are not part of that dream. Those moments of trash interruptions at the beach, and having educated myself on the ramifications of plastic in our seas, are part of what has spurred me to take on this issue at home and on the ATP Tour.

Last month, my wife and I held a fundraising event in Boca Raton to support two causes very close to our hearts, Ocean Conservancy and Dezzy’s Second Chance Animal Rescue. We raised a lot of awareness for both organizations, and as for the ocean, we saw it as an opportunity to speak with our friends, neighbors and fellow tennis stars about the issue that is so close to our front doors. What I’ve learned in my research and work on this issue is that the problem of trash in the ocean is so overwhelming—it often leaves people thinking that they can’t make an impact. After meeting and working with the Ocean Conservancy team this past month, I know that is not case and that there is hope for clean beaches in Florida and around the world.

People like the ones at Ocean Conservancy can always use a helping hand and as a member of the ATP Player’s Council I take that position seriously and see it as an opportunity to do good using that platform. Because of my personal initiative to promote reducing single-use plastics, the ATP Tour put my goals in action at the O2 arena, reducing single-use plastic to the Nitto ATP Finals in London in November by providing reusable water bottles for players and staff (with water coolers to refill), paper straws and glass cups for use in the player restaurant and reusable cups for fans buying drinks in the stands. This huge step in the right direction sends a great message that you can put on these massive events and minimize the waste produced.

When you combine those sorts of changes with Ocean Conservancy and the work they do including their International Coastal Cleanup, you’ve got a combination that can really make change. What drew me to Ocean Conservancy in addition to the ICC was their work with major corporations and governments on the Trash Free Seas Alliance. As great as it is to see people come in large groups clean up the beach, that needs to be supported by major entities like the Alliance members in order to curb the flow of trash from the source so it doesn’t end up in the ocean in the first place.

I’ve faced a lot of tough opponents on the tennis court and the lesson I’ve learned in all of my matches is that persistence is the greatest asset any competitor has. In the fight against ocean plastic, it will be persistence from residents across the globe, from companies and organizations like the ATP Tour and Ocean Conservancy that will help us win this battle.

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