Meet the tennis influencer admired by Novak Djokovic and nearly 400,000 followers
He is the Irish social media influencer with almost 400,000 followers on Instagram, yet Fabio Molle admits his name will not be known by too many of those who lap up his social media content.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic is among the tennis superstars following the Functional Tennis Instagram page managed by Molle, with his varied mix of tennis videos making the account one of the most influential in tennis.
Fabio’s engaging Functional Tennis podcast has attracted some big-name interviewees and in a Tennis365 exclusive, he has given us the inside story into how Functional Tennis became one of the most talked-about platforms in the sport.
HOW DID FUNCTIONAL TENNIS START?
Tennis has always been my passion. I played a lot as a kid and a few futures tournaments, but injuries affected my ambition and now I find myself working full-time in the sport running Functional Tennis. I found of a lot of great videos that could help players develop their game and I didn’t think it would take off as it did. I don’t know why or how they got so much traction. I haven’t advertised or promoted the account and it just kept growing and it was just a case of right time, right place.
IS RUNNING FUNCTIONAL TENNIS YOUR FULL-TIME JOB?
Yes. About three years ago, we started an online store and posted a video of a player hitting a ball with a big wooden spoon that helps players find the sweet spot when they practicing and it has proved to be a big seller for us. Some Grand Slam players have used them. They are also in a lot of academies around the world and being used by top junior players, so that has been very popular. Iga Swiatek’s coach bought a tennis pointer from me just before she won the French Open and Andy Murray has also had a go with it as well.
YOUR NAME IS NOT FRONTING THE FUNCTIONAL TENNIS INSTAGRAM PAGE, SO DO PEOPLE KNOW YOU ARE THE MAN BEHIND IT?
The account is not about me. It is about the players and coaches and I know some junior players have been spotted by agents on Functional Tennis account and signed up, which is a wonderful sideshow of this. Big agencies like IMG look at our videos, they find the players in question and they sign them up, which is great.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC IS A FAN OF YOUR TENNIS JOURNAL, SO TELL US ABOUT THAT?
The tennis journal helps players record information from their matches and try to improve. You can record results, add notes to remind you what you need to work on and it was great to see Novak was a big fan when I met up with him a while back. We also sell a camera mount that helps you to record your game and gets stats from your app.
IS IT HARD TO TURN AN INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT INTO A BUSINESS, EVEN WITH A FOLLOWING AS BIG AS FUNCTIONAL TENNIS?
Making money out of social media is tough if you are not the face behind the account. If the Instagram or Twitter account has your face on it, then you can do very well out of it when you get to 50,000 and 60,000 followers, but that’s not the case with Functional Tennis. What we have is a massive influence in the tennis world and that opens a lot of doors. I am also the front person of our podcast and that’s great fun to work on. We have had 120 episodes and has some great guests on there and hopefully lots more to come. Goran Ivanisevic, Casper Ruud and Liam Broady are some of the star names we have had on the podcast so far and there are lots more in the planning for the coming weeks and months.
WHAT COMES NEXT FOR FUNCTIONAL TENNIS?
We have an online store and the plan is to add new products as we go forward and we are also looking to build a new community online for tennis players, coaches and parents. We also want to use the incredible following we now have to build on what we have started and continue to grow.
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