Mike Stobe Getty Images for USTA Haggerty is on the left
An American man has taken the helm of the ITF, the organization that controls Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the Grand Slams at a time when American tennis is at its weakest in many years. The USTA is viewed with some skepticism here because of the USTA's attempts to dilute or get rid of the European Spring clay court season but let's look at Haggerty and see what is known about him at present.
Christopher Clarey wrote this about him in May 2015.
David Haggerty, the former United States Tennis Association president who helped lead the effort to build a roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium and a new national training center in Orlando, Fla., will run for president of the sport’s global governing body, the International Tennis Federation.
...For me, tennis has been my life, and I care deeply about it. It has been my livelihood but also my passion, and I think the I.T.F. should be a leader of the governing bodies, should have a seat at the table. And we haven’t always had that. We haven’t had necessarily the respect that I think we need to have, and that comes through mutual respect.”
The I.T.F., founded in 1913, owns and operates the two leading team competitions — the Davis Cup for men and the Fed Cup for women — along with many lower-tier events. As the recognized international federation, it also oversees the antidoping program and the increasingly prestigious Olympic tennis tournament.
The sport’s fragmented power base makes major, coordinated change complicated. There have been clashes in recent years between the I.T.F. leadership and the WTA leadership over Olympic qualifying rules, as well as grumbling from top men’s players about the Davis Cup’s format and impact.
The Davis Cup remains quite popular in some parts of the world, including Australia and France. Although the United States has won it a record 34 times, the event has lost visibility and prestige in the country. Haggerty, an I.T.F. vice president who described himself as an internationalist, said he thought the Cup needed significant change, which the I.T.F. has been studying.
“Davis Cup and Fed Cup are our most important properties, but they aren’t working the way that they can work,” said Haggerty, who also wants the sport to reach out to fans by making greater use of analytics.
The I.T.F. remains a European-dominated organization. Only three Americans have held the top post: L. J. Carruthers, Russell Kingman and, most recently, Walter Elcock from 1974 to 1975.
When Elcock was the U.S.T.A. president, he made the breakthrough decision to give equal prize money at the 1973 United States Open for men and women. Haggerty, an industry insider, also demonstrated a decisive streak in his two-year term in 2013 and 2014.
A former executive at Prince, Dunlop and Head who began playing tennis at age 6, he led major changes at the United States Open. He and the U.S.T.A. board addressed player concerns by approving a major increase of prize money and by ending the longstanding Super Saturday schedule in which the men played singles semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday, with the women’s final sandwiched between the men’s semis. After years of debate, the U.S.T.A. also approved the construction of an Ashe Stadium roof, which is now being constructed at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and other infrastructure improvements. Last month, the U.S.T.A. broke ground on its new training and developmental complex at Lake Nona in Orlando that will include more than 100 courts.
“I was very proud of what the U.S.T.A. board did,” Haggerty said. “We made some very big decisions, and that’s the sort of thing that needs to happen with the I.T.F.”
Here is an excerpt from the official ITF announcement :
David Haggerty was elected ITF President at the ITF Annual General Meeting in Santiago, Chile on Friday. The 58-year old from the United States succeeds Francesco Ricci Bitti, whose 16-year term as ITF President ends today. Haggerty will serve a four-year term from 2015-19.
Haggerty was elected on the second ballot with 200 votes, over Anil Khanna (IND) with 192 votes. Rene Stammbach (SUI) and Juan Margets (ESP) were eliminated on the first ballot.
Haggerty is known to advocate a change in Davis Cup and Fed Cup format which would see the event played in one place over a two week period. Here is a report from Inside The Game about what Haggerty would like to do re the two events.
Haggerty proposed as an example an eight-team format at the end of each season with them all coming together in one destination over a two-week period.
He admitted, though, actually implementing that is not as straightforward as it sounds.
"You can’t bilaterally make this decision," said Haggerty, who is also a former chairman of the United States Tennis Association.
"You need some collaboration to free up the calendar and make sure the players want to play.
"It’s one of the biggest challenges to making the Davis Cup and the Fed Cups the events that players would want to play every time the event is held."
The same day that Haggerty won is also the day that it was announced that Davis Cup will adopt the fifth set tiebreak format effective 2016. Will the three Slams that don't have that rule ( the US Open does) follow suit?
With Stacey Allaster no longer running the WTA what will Haggerty's relationship be with her successor? Will the horrible and sport ruining on court coaching now be available at the Grand Slam level for the women? One shudders at the possibility.
The win is a surprise since Rene Stammbach of Switzerland and Juan Magrets of Spain were the favorites. Both nations are powerhouses in tennis at the moment with Spain having 14 players in the ATP top 100.
So what do I think? I think Haggerty is a stealth candidate for not only the United States but Australia and Great Britain. Many of the "reforms" the tennis axis has sought could possibly be implemented now especially since Haggerty won with 200 votes.
I'm not alone in feeling that changes will come. Here is a tweet I found a few minutes ago from Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal in response to Ivan Ljubicic.
daniel kaplan @dkaplanSBJ 14m14 minutes ago
@theljubicic @ITF_Tennis International sporting orgs, from IOC to FIFA, have long had love/hate relationships with America. no secret
I'm sure there will be more to come with this story. I will update as more details emerge.
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