During this coronavirus-induced pause in the season, the ITF announced plans to give players a greater voice in the game.
The new ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel will provide a forum for players to provide their input and have their say on how the tour is run and will be a further opportunity for the ITF to engage with the player community.
Chaired by Hall of Famers Mary Pierce and Mark Woodforde, the panel is designed to give lower-ranked players more representation in the sport. Woodforde and Pierce also serve as athlete representatives on the ITF Board of Directors.
The panel will advise and make recommendations to the ITF World Tennis Tour Committee, which in turn reports to the ITF Board of Directors.
The men’s and women’s tennis player communities will each elect a panel of seven current player members to represents its interests, together with an ITF-appointed Chair and an ITF-appointed coach.
Player members will vote, where voting is required, on each tour’s panel to make recommendations to the ITF World Tennis Tour Committee. The Chair and the Coach are non-voting members.
Panel members will be nominated and elected by players who compete on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour. Men’s tennis players with an ATP singles or doubles ranking no higher than No. 351 and women’s tennis players with a WTA singles or doubles ranking no higher than No. 151 are eligible to nominate a fellow player or stand in the election. Further criteria have also been devised to ensure that players from all regions and at all ranking-levels are suitably represented.
“There would be no tennis without the players, so it is vital that their voice is heard and that their views are considered when making decisions about how to run the Tour,” Pierce said in a statement. “As chair of the women’s tennis panel, I will ensure that the players’ views are relayed to both the ITF Board and ITF World Tennis Tour Committee, so that the players’ opinions are heard at every level.”
The nomination period for the 2020-21 panel will open in May, with the outcome of the elections expected to be announced in the week of 15 June. The elected members will serve a term until the end of the 2021 season, and thereafter will serve two-year terms.
Once elected, the panel will meet at least two times per year via video conference.
“The ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel will be a great place for players to come together and discuss the issues that matter most to them,” Woodforde said. “It is essential that athletes have a significant voice in the running of the sport, and the formation of this panel gives the ITF the more opportunities to engage collaboratively with the player community.”
Photo credit: WTA Tennis Facebook