ATP/WTA or ITF--Who should control Tennis? -
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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ATP/WTA or ITF--Who should control Tennis?

This question is for people who are interested in tennis politics. There has been news about how the ATP and the WTA are still struggling financially (ATP will likely reduce prize money due to that whole ISL deal that went kaput; Sanex is rumored to be pulling out as the WTA sponsor; a lot of big tournaments are in the red and in danger of disappearing).

So I got to wondering if tennis wouldn't be better off under the direction of the ITF. Why?

Reason #1: The ITF is loaded, thanks largely to the Grand Slams, which they control (I believe the national federations also get government funding). The ITF could use their vast funds to finance more lower-level tournaments. The Tier 3/4 events could certainly use this help, as most of them probably don't make money without the top players.

Reason #2: There's a sense of division now among the Grand Slams and the tour events because they're being controlled by different organizations (Slams=ITF, tour=ATP/WTA). ITF could bring unity to the situation by taking over the tours as well. That way, the national federations could then become more active in helping their national events.

Reason #3: It would also possibly unite the men and the women. I've always thought men's and women's tennis should combine their assets and just promote TENNIS. The successes of Key Biscayne and Indian Wells should be followed, even the lower-level events. I envision an ITF tour where all events are co-ed. It'd be better for the sport, and better for the players as well, as they'd be able to socialize more with players they wouldn't have to compete with later.

Wonder what you guys think...
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2002, 03:44 AM
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I disagree I think the tours needs independence and having the ITF keeps them in check also.

But I do agree about co-ed events. I think it will make tennis better. Hopefully that could make the coverage more balanced too, that is, not all ATP events.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2002, 03:47 AM
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Hi Tommy

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old Aug 6th, 2002, 07:30 PM
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The tours need their autonomy. The ITF should be in a position where they could govern the sport, but unfortunately they don't have the necessary diversity amongst their leadership.

I don't lke the idea of more combined events. For one, someone often gets delegated to second-tier status (usually the women). For another, it dilutes the uniqueness of the Slams. If events were co-ed, the slams would only be "more of the same", with more players.

For those of you who weren't around for the dawn of the Open Era, this is actually how it was back then. Events were combined, men and women. Then the Open era came, and with it, prize money. What happened? The men made the big grab. They hogged the lion's share of the prize money, and the show courts. Women's matches were often scheduled in the early morning hours, and/or on courts so remote you need a Sherpa guide to find them. It wasn't until the women broke away to form their own tour that they made any progress. (The proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" was a tournament that offered the men 8X the prize money of the women.)

The tennis community is still one of the most narrow-minded groups around (exceeded only by golf). I could easily see a similar situation evolving even now. One ATP guy remarked that he wishes they had enough money to buy the WTA Tour, so they could stick it away somewhere so they'd never hear of it again. Hardly makes them trustworthy enough to partner with. And consider that ITF officials come from ATP backgrounds. Doesn't exactly make it sound like they'd have everyone's best interests at heart.

The ITF could best help the sport in the promotional side. They should use some money to buy airtime on shows like SportsCenter, so tennis scores and highlights get shown daily. And everyone involved in tennis makes the same damn mistake: they run their commercials promoting their tour/sport during... tennis telecasts! Talk about a waste of money! The only people that see them are already watching. Run the commercials during popular events from other sports, like the NFL playoffs, the NCAA Championships, the Daytona 500, etc., even if they can't run them as often. Better yet, tailor the commercials to highlight various aspects of tennis that would appeal to fans of that particular sport.
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