Dubai: One of the top minds in tennis development has called on all governing bodies connected with the sport to align and put the game before everything else.
“In effect, you’ve got seven governing bodies in tennis. You’ve got the ATP, the WTA and the ITF along with the four Grand Slams that are all doing things with a lot of influence. I think that at some stage these seven have to work together for the good of tennis,” Dave Miley, former ITF director of development, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Dubai Tennis Championships being held at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.
Miley was the ITF director of development for more than 25 years, but with the new board led by David Haggerty taking over, the Irishman decided to take a break before accepting a similar consultative role with the Asian Tennis Federation from August last year.
“I think of a situation where the various governing bodies join together and ensure that the top 300 men and women make a good living out of tennis. When you go to Grand Slams, you see the true quality of these top athletes. They are big and strong and the tennis they play is awesome. They’ve given up so much to just reach so far and it’s crazy that they can’t make a good living. Tennis needs a serious re-structuring,” he added.
Tennis has been in focus of late with at least two major decisions in the pipeline in an attempt to give the sport a totally different identity. The ITF announced a $3-billion (Dh11 billion) partnership with investment group Kosmos, founded by Spain and FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, earlier this week.
A key part of the ITF2024 strategy, the attempt will be the creation of a new annual season-ending 18-team World Cup of Tennis Finals over one week that will ultimately crown the Davis Cup champions.
“I don’t like the new format because I think home and away is such an important part of Davis Cup. I think the ITF is doing a thing like this for the money, and not for the real good of tennis. I think some of the major nations of tennis will be upset about it already. With the home and away, you can still do other formats and generate income. But home and away has to be there as it is a fundamental part of Davis Cup,” Miley observed.
“For me, the new Davis Cup format is not the answer. I am all for a format that could generate more income, and I am sure there are other formats that could generate income without having to go away from the home and away principle,” he stressed.
The proposal is subject to further development, and the successful completion of due diligence and finalisation of a formal agreement. Several world-class cities have already expressed interest in hosting the new event, and the ITF and Kosmos will continue discussions with a view to launch the Finals probably in November 2019. The plans, however, will be submitted to the ITF annual general meeting in August in Orlando, Florida.
“For me, the ITF has three weeks on the annual calendar. I think they need to use those three weeks very well. We have to understand here that it is not the ITF’s fault that the players play too much. The ITF has three weeks, while the ATP has 35 weeks and the Grand Slams have eight weeks. So the long season is not because of the ITF conducting the Davis Cup or the Fed Cup. Obviously, there is the financial aspect and that’s one of the challenges in the world of tennis,” Miley said.