September 21, 2023

Open Court


Three new members as ATP Player Council election results announced



Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime generally feels pretty young out on the ATP Tour.

But he’s going to feel like a veritable puppy when the new ATP Player Council meets to hash out Tour business over the next 18 months.

The 20-year-old Canadian is the only under-30 on the nine-player council, which takes office on Jan. 1.

Auger-Aliassime’s presence lowers the average of the council about a year and a half.

Without him, the average age is … 35 1/2 years. With him, it’s just under 34 years.

It is, let’s say, a “seasoned” crew.

Only one spring chicken on the new ATP Player Council for 2021.

Andujar and Daniell the newbies

The council is also extremely white. And it’s also extremely Euro-centric (if we’re still including Great Britain as part of Europe, for argument’s sake).

There are no Asian players.

Daniell, a New Zealander and John Millman, an Aussie, represent all of Asia and Oceania.

Auger-Aliassime is the the only player of colour. And he is a Canadian essentially representing all of North America. There are no U.S. members on the new council.

Soares, a doubles specialist, must represent the interests of all of South America.

And South Africa’s Kevin Anderson represents all of Africa as a white man who relocated to the U.S. eons ago.

Former Council vice-president Anderson currently is the president, after Novak Djokovic resigned in August. He might no longer play that role when the new council meets next month to choose its president and vice president.

Two of the nine members are Spaniards.

And neither Russia, nor the other former Russian republics, nor the Balkan countries, are represented. Players from those two areas heavily populate the top of the ATP charts.

To sum up, there is a certain homogeneity, by just about any measure. And that’s not a particularly good thing.

The new crew will serve until June 2022..

Most council members return

Former members Federer and Nadal rejoined the council after an en masse resignation at Wimbledon in 2019.

Robin Haase, Jamie Murray, Sergiy Stakhovsky and coaching rep Daniel Vallverdu all left at the same time.

Murray, Auger-Aliassime and Millman came on last August when Djokovic, Vasek Pospisil, John Isner and Sam Querrey resigned at the US Open. Those defections followed the announcement that Djokovic and Pospisil intended to form a new players association.

Now, all five have been duly elected by the players.

Meanwhile, Vallverdu has returned as the coaching representative.

Kenya-born, London-based Italian Eno Polo, elected as a player representative to the ATP Board in November, will officially take up his duties in January. He joins incumbent members Alexander Inglot and Mark Knowles

Much work to do for the “old” guard

A large group of players ran in these elections, including Canadians Milos Raonic and Peter Polansky.

But the player electorate basically went with the tried-and-true, within the limits of geographic criteria that requires all parts of the tennis universe to be represented.

The group, led spiritually if not officially by Federer and Nadal, have aligned themselves fairly definitively behind new ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi. They want to give him the time to try to implement his strategic vision for the tour going forward.

The pandemic scuttled the 2020 ATP Tour schedule and threw everything into chaos. So it was a tough environment in which to begin executing that vision.

“PTPA” repping on the Council

Their solidarity meant there was nowhere for Djokovic and Pospisil to go.

The two announced the formation of the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association). But they don’t appear to have taken any steps since August to officialize the organization, or define the vision,

After their resignations in August, the two were nominated to stand for the council again.

But both announced a week ago they were withdrawing their names from consideration.

Both claimed they were prevented from running because of their involvement with the nascent PTPA.

A by-law amendment decided upon during Roland Garros aimed to prevent players – and tournaments, and board members, it should be said – from “belonging to alternative associations or organisations whose functions overlap with those of the Player Council, Tournament Council, or Board, or whose purpose or objective is deemed contrary to the best interest of ATP and/or the sport of tennis.”

PTPA is not even an official organization yet. Nor has it elucidated its vision. So, as it stands, there was no actual reason the two could not run for the Player Council again at the moment.

Case in point: Simon has been public in his support of the PTPA. So has Auger-Aliassime, who joined in the group photo taken on Louis Armstrong Stadium during the US Open.

And yet, both are duly elected members of the 2021-22 council.

It appears that in 2021, the off-court, boardroom drama could be as dramatic as the on-court action.

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