November 29, 2021

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Pospisil talks PTPA on the BTR podcast

Federer

With PTPA co-founder Vasek Pospisil in the house in Charlottesville, Va. for a Challenger this week, the Behind the Racquet podcast took the opportunity to have the 31-year-old Canadian on to discuss the status of the Professional Tennis Players Association.

Challenger broadcaster Mike Cation is one of the podcast’s hosts, along with American player Noah Rubin.

We’ve pulled out some excerpts here. But it’s definitely worth listening to the podcast for the full picture.

You can find it here (excerpts re-posted with permission).

The PTPA is taking time

“It’s been obviously extremely challenging. I’m not gonna lie, it’s because at the end of the day, Novak and I had been spearheading it and Novak has, you know, very little, time. … And what’s taken the longest time, honestly, is our bringing on the tennis executives, right? Because you need to have somebody within the organization – and not just one person, but a few – that have deep industry knowledge of the sport.”

“There’s so many conflicts, and the games have been very dirty. I mean, the ATP, I gotta be honest, the things that I’ve heard them say about us … just all lies.”

Among the lies Pospisil mentioned were that the PTPA was trying to start its own tour. And that it was paying players to sign on.

“I mean, like, come on, how low can you go? And, and that just shows how scared they are of players having a say, and having a voice and being able to actually have some kind of leverage and power in a sport where they should. Because right now, you know, they’ve completely monopolized the sport,” he said.

Combatting the fake news

Pospisil said the PTPA’s biggest challenge was combatting the false information that’s out there, the “different voices that are in the heads of some players” he said might not understand the various conflicts of interest within the sport.

He said the organization hadn’t even begun to “start recruiting more aggressively”. Meaning that they got to “75 percent of the target players”, which they felt was enough to start building out the organization. And then, they would recruit the higher-ranked guys (although he added, for the record, that they “do have a lot of high-ranked guys”).

Pospisil said that the ATP is using “scare tactics” with the players, telling them they will lose their endorsements if they sign with the PTPA, and be in “bad standing” with the ATP. He believes that by the middle of next year, the PTPA’s credibility will be such that the top players will support it.

It’s the media’s fault, of course

“Everyone was very quick to jump on Novak, and there was this whole thing for a long time where, where every article was just bashing Novak. So right away, you know, you had all these journalists who just jumped on the bandwagon and just started write all these negative articles. And that made no sense … It wasn’t factual at all, it was just, it was shocking.”

“You have these journalists that are deliberately just write whatever they want. To the point where, you know, I just stopped reading these articles. I mean, you know, they should be retracted. So I think that’s part of the reason why, especially early on, the message wasn’t clear.”

Pospisil said he knew it was going to be a big challenge. But it was a lot more work than he expected.

The Canadian said that the “vast majority” of the players are “extremely frustrated. The evidence of that is that they already have 75 per cent of them on board, and there many players they still haven’t even approached.

The women are a challenge

He did admit that recruiting the WTA players to the organization has been a challenge.

“Actually, I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect them to be this hard to kind of get on board. I think that might have been (somewhat) to do with how we started or whatever. But obviously, we want the women involved. It’s super important that they’re a part of it.”

Pospisil said the PTPA had “70 to 80” women signed on. But he thinks they’ll “kind of come flooding in” once the organization is at the point where the organization is properly built out. And he said that point is coming very soon.

Competing with the ATP

Pospisil said the organization is “not trying to change tennis” per se. But they want there to be an open market, “to be able to come up, to compete against the ATP”.

“Basically, if you can come and do a better job and create a better event, or create a better tour, the player should have the option to pursue that,” Pospisil said.

“I think what will, ultimately, be the outcome of the PTPA is … kind of becoming independent from the ATP. And that might take two, three years,” he said.

Pospisil said that Djokovic’s involvement undoubtedly is a “legacy play”. But he said that the world No. 1’s heart is in the right place.

“I’ve gotten to know him really well. And I have zero doubts about that. So, you know, we have time, but we need to hurry up. And we’re getting there.”