February 19, 2024

Open Court


CAA dissolves tennis division

A number of notable tennis players are now free agents, in the wake of big sports agency CAA dissolving its tennis division.

The move happened last month, according to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

The company did not make a public announcement, but issued this statement to Kaplan, who wrote about it here.

“There was not a sufficient opportunity for us in the representation of tennis players, and as such, we made a strategic decision to exit the business.”

Among the players represented by CAA on the tennis side were Marin Cilic of Croatia, currently ranked No. 10.

Canadian Genie Bouchard, who joined CAA a little less than a year ago, also was affected.

Through her career, Bouchard has been represented by Lagardère, IMG, Las-Vegas based PRP, John Tobias/TLA Worldwide and CAA. 

According to Kaplan, her agent Matthew Fawcett (who also represents Taylor Fritz and Ryan Harrison), now is out on his own.

Another agent, Matt Elefant (a former college player who had been promoted to agent less than four years ago), left and now works for World Team Tennis.

Between Jan. 15 and 16, 2019, CAA removed all traces of its 11-year-old tennis division from its website. (CAA.com)

Scandal hit CAA in 2017

CAA’s tennis business was significantly compromised after an in-house scandal involving longtime agent Amit Naor.

The former agent of Novak Djokovic was hit with a claim of “verbal, emotional and sexual harassment” in 2017. It was filed by tennis manager/agent Stephanie Lopez, a woman who reported to Naor. After a 2 1/2-month investigation, Naor was fired.

Complicating things – especially in the absence of a public statement – was the fact that Naor continued to represent the agency’ hree highest-profile tenni clients.

CAA offered cooperation, but the players no longer were under the company’s umbrella. Those players are Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych.

The tennis division at CAA was basically founded upon the arrival of Naor and partner Allon Khakshouri in 2008 – with Djokovic. The Serbian No. 1 left in 2012.

Not profitable enough

CAA – full name, “Creative Artists Agency” – has its tentacles in every area of entertainment and sports. Among its other interests are live event production and media and licensing rights.

The company is most known for its representation of Hollywood actors and other artists. Its sports division represents baseball stars, basketball players, NFL players, skiers, snowboarders, figure skaters, gymnasts. But now, no tennis players.

Here’s a list of WTA and ATP players who were represented by CAA in recent years, according to lists obtained by Tennis.Life. (The lists might not be 100 per cent up to date; we apologize for any information that’s not current).

*Roberto Bautista Agut
*Lauren Davis
*Nicole Gibbs
*Ryan Harrison
*Bradley Klahn
*Taylor Fritz
*Fanny Stollar
*Donald Young

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ashleigh Barty had been represented by CAA agent Rick Montz. Montz was fired, he believes, in connection with the Naor case. As of last summer, had taken his case to the EEOC, per Kaplan. Barty also is represented by fellow Australian Nikki Craig.

Lauren Davis, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Lucie Safarova bad been represented by Lopez. American Coco Vandeweghe had been represented by Naor, then by Lopez.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, managed by husband Justin, also had been listed with CAA.

According to Kaplan, Lopez’s lawyers “were notified this month via email that she also was being let go from CAA as part of the dissolution of the tennis division.” She had been on leave since last May.

So the effects of the company’s issues cut a wide swath through the group of American players before CAA cut the cord completely on the sport.

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