Monday, July 13, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

July 13, 2009


ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today the appointment of Stacey Allaster, the Tour’s President since 2006, as the new Chairman and CEO of the world’s leading global sport for women. Allaster will begin her new role immediately and will continue to be based at the Tour’s U.S. headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. The naming of Allaster culminates an international search undertaken by the Tour’s Board of Directors and led by leading global executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International.

Commenting on her appointment as Chairman and CEO, Stacey Allaster said: “I am honored to lead the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, which since its founding by Billie Jean King 36 years ago has continued to break barriers and grow into a premier global sporting league. The Tour and our sport have enjoyed unprecedented success over the past years, and we are poised for even greater heights in the years to come. Our primary and enduring focus will be our fans, our players and our tournaments, and continuing to build a premium sport and entertainment brand.”

“Women’s tennis and the Tour have never been stronger as a business, and Stacey has been at the center of this business success over the past years,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No. 3, seven-time Grand Slam champion and Player Council member Venus Williams. “Stacey has helped to lead the development of a stronger Tour product through the passage of a healthier and streamlined circuit structure. I believe that Stacey will be a great leader for the Tour, understands how players can help drive our business, and has all the tools to take our sport to even greater heights.”

“Stacey Allaster is one of the most talented and respected leaders in our sport,” said Steve Simon, Tournament Board Representative and Tournament Director of the BNP Paribas Open women’s event. “Stacey brings to the role a track record of success in the areas of sales, marketing and television, possesses a deep understanding as to the needs of tennis fans, and has the respect of our players, tournaments and entire tennis industry. Stacey’s appointment is great news for both the organization and the sport.”

Allaster, 46, succeeds Larry Scott, who held the position for six years prior to becoming the Commissioner of NCAA’s PAC-10 Conference. Recognized as one of the most internationally successful female sports executives, Allaster came to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour on January 1, 2006 in the newly-created role of President, responsible for the Tour’s operations, business development, television, new media and tournament and player relations. Since joining the Tour, Allaster has played an integral role in a number of groundbreaking Tour achievements and is credited with helping to take the business of women’s professional tennis to unprecedented heights, including: (i) passage of the Tour’s landmark Roadmap reform plan, which has resulted in a 40% increase in prize money, $750 million of new stadium investment and a healthier calendar better able to ensure that fans see top players competing more often on the Tour’s biggest stages, (ii) implementation of more fan friendly innovations to the sport than in its prior history, including working with leaders of other tennis governing bodies to bring electronic line calling to the sport, as well as on-court coaching, pre-match player interviews, interviews with coaches during matches and a new doubles scoring format, (iii) expansion of the Tour’s global television footprint and launch of groundbreaking digital initiatives, including in partnership with the ATP World Tour, bringing live streaming of matches from the world’s top women’s and men’s Tour events to a global online audience, along with a brand new fan friendly official Tour website, (iv) playing a lead role in the prior renewal of the Tour’s biggest three sponsorship deals - Sony Ericsson, Whirlpool and Dubai Duty Free, (v) achievement of the Tour’s longstanding quest to grant equal prize money for women tennis players at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, along with the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships and five of the biggest events on the Tour and (vi) reestablishment of the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships as a premier season ending event.

Prior to joining the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Allaster served as Vice President and Tournament Director at Tennis Canada where she is credited with leading a professional tennis resurgence during her tenure. She was instrumental in generating record revenues and attendance at the Canadian Open (currently known as the Rogers Cup), and turning each of the tournaments in Montreal and Toronto into premier global sporting properties. Allaster played an instrumental role in the building and fundraising for Toronto's world-class Rexall Tennis Centre, and led a team that generated over $165 million in sponsorship and stadium revenues for the development of the sport.

A consummate tennis professional, Allaster has held every position in the sport of tennis, from a junior to a collegiate player, to a Tournament Director of prestigious Masters Series and Premier Events, to Tour President.

Tennis Canada has long been the iron fist in the velvet glove of North American tennis. When common sense pointed to moving the ATP and WTA Canadian events fierce resistance resulted in them staying put on the calendar. While it is true that the women have made far less noise, at least publicly, against the institution of the Roadmap it's going to be interesting to see what Ms Allaster does now that she holds the reins of power.
  • Will we see the tour promoted instead of one player?
  • Will we see the end of the farce known as on court coaching?
  • Will we see revisions to Roadmap?
  • Will the tour continue on it's two tiered way with the "A" event final in Doha and the "B" event "championship" in Bali?
  • Will the ranking system be revised so that the tour no longer rewards "consistency" but good play against the top players?

Those are just a few of the real world issues facing the WTA at the end of Larry Scott's tenure. At this point I can only say "Welcome" to Ms Allaster. The road ahead is bumpy.

The Week That Was

Davis Cup

I didn't intend to take as much time away from the blog as I ended up doing. I usually make a big deal about the United States Davis Cup team and it's chances but for the first time in years I scoreboard watched instead of following live online. Have I mentioned that I don't have Tennis Channel as part of my cable package, not even if I want to pay for it? I have? Whatevs.

This gentleman seems to have gone to the matches in Croatia with more enthusiasm than some members of the US Team. There is no need to go into the why of the loss to Croatia. The scores speak for themselves. Instead it's time to look ahead and anticipate what Captain Patrick McEnroe is going to do going forward.
It seems to me that the old team of Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan is history. Blake simply can't handle the pressure of carrying the team. Add to that his antipathy towards clay, the surface of choice for all teams that play the Unites States, and it's clear he has to go. Dare I say that Andy Roddick 2.0 may want spend more time concentrating on his resurgent singles career for the foreseeable future and not be willing to be available for Davis Cup? The Bryan twins are still winning but they're not getting any younger either.

Maybe PMac should take a page from Mary Jo Fernandez book and start working with the younger players. I'm not saying juniors although giving the younger players a chance at being more than practice partners might be a good idea, but guys like Sam Querrey could be brought onto the team. Querrey for one does not seem to think he'll turn to stone if he walks onto a clay court. Until the United States gets over it's clay court bias we're going to be in trouble when we go overseas.

The semi finals will see Spain vs Israel and Croatia vs The Czech Republic. Don't let anyone tell you they saw Israel beating Russia 4-1. No one saw that coming. As for Argentina they seem to be in a rebuilding phase right now.

Juan Carlos Ferrero was the hero for the Spanish Davis Cup Team this go around. Spain will be the prohibitive favorite against Israel especially playing on their home turf.

The Czech's will travel to Croatia for the September semifinals. The Croatians are trying to persuade Ivan Ljubicic to return to DC competition but that is up in the air right now.

A Death in the Family
Twenty four year old French player Mathieu Montcourt was found dead in the stairwell of his apartment building by friends. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. May he rest in peace.

The Champions

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez Champion Bastad 2009

Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko 2009 Doubles Champions Bastad

Agnes Szavay 2009 GDF Budapest Champion
Doubles - Final
Alisa Kleybanova and Monica Niculescu won the Doubles Championship at Budapest

Lucky Loser Rajeev Ram 2009 Champion Newport. Rajeev scored a double victory pairing with Jordan Kerr to win the Doubles Championship.
There was an induction into the Hall of Fame located at Newport.

There was absolutely no controversy about Monica Seles joining tennis immortals at the Tennis Hall of Fame. Her career speaks for itself. Congratulations Monica.
The other inductee was Donald Dell. Known as the "tennis agent supreme" Dell has an interesting story to tell about the 1983 US Open that went widely unreported in US tennis media.

Connors was diagnosed with a blood blisters and the morning of the Open final and could not run or practice. He said he was going to default the final to Lendl. Dell, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this week in Newport, R.I., wrote “The growth of tennis really started to plateau, and I could see this non-finals really hurting the game.” So, the day of the final, Dell got in touch with a trainer with the New York Jets who recommended Connors take a shot of xylocaine, a sort of “souped-up novacaine.” Dell presented Connors with this option and he agreed not to forfeit the final to Lendl. The only problem with the shot was that it only lasted about 90 minutes before the effects would wear off and the pain would return. Should the match go longer than 90 minutes, Connors had to somehow get off the court so the trainer could administer another pain-killing shot. Players are authorized to leave the court for one bathroom break during a match, so when the pain-killer would begin to wear off, Dell orchestrated for Connors to take a bathroom break, where the trainer would be secretly hiding in the bathroom to administer another pain-killing shot. After Connors won the first set 6-3, he lost the second set 6-7, and at 2-1 in the third set, he began to limp noticeably on court. Dell signaled for the trainer to make his secret move to the bathroom to wait for Connors. While Lendl protested in vain that Connors should not receive medical treatment, no tournament officials followed Connors off-court into the bathroom. Another shot was administered and Connors went on to beat Lendl 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0 to win his fifth Open title.

Wrote Dell, “Afterward the official doctor for the Open came up to me and said “Donald, I don’t know what you did, and I don’t want to know,” I said, “If that’s the way you feel, fine. But I can live with what I did.”

Connors, in his post match press conference, was asked why he left the court, and answered “I had a horrible attack of diarrhea.

Thanks to Tennis Grandstand for the information.

Sloane Stephens won her WTT match over Venus Williams. Sloane had a very good run at Wimbledon playing juniors making it to the semifinals where she was annihilated by Kristina Mladenovic of France.

End Notes

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils on their way to the memorial service for Mathieu Montcourt. Montcourt's father requested that friends show up in casual attire.

Rafael Nadal relaxing

Sania Mirza at her engagement ceremony

Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker at one of the Apple stores in Manhattan


dearg said...

Thanks Savannah for your excellent blog. I'm not at commenting but most of your posts have me nodding in agreement.
But back to trivial things… I'm flabbergasted, I took the country test and I'm Sealand! This is how I have been summed up "You are easily overlooked and want to be acknowledged". A platform in the North Sea, oh well splendid isolation for me…

Savannah said...

Hi dearg! Welcome. Try "You're strict, uptight, and comanding."

Don't be a stranger.

Anny said...

Who is with Rafa in the third picture? Is that Rafa on the left? They look positively identical!

Savannah said...

Anny so far he's only been ID'd as a friend.