August 9, 2020

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June 5 layoffs mean Tennis Canada staff to shrink by 70% – at least for the summer

After several weeks of meetings, Tennis Canada’s board of directors has reportedly finalized the incredibly gut-wrenching decisions concerning its permanent staff.

The French-language sports network RDS was the first to report that 70 per cent of permanent employees involved will be laid off. Some 40 percent are long-term layoffs; another 30 per cent are leaving on a “temporary basis”, “probably” until the fall.

Open Court has confirmed that those numbers, sent in an internal email to various provincial associations and Tennis Canada employees Monday night.

Tennis Canada anticipates a deficit of nearly $25 million with the loss of the Coupe Rogers, the likely loss of the 2020 Rogers Cup in Toronto. The planned restructuring and expense-reduction program would cut into that some, but the anticipated loss for 2020 would remain at $17 million.

The organization is looking into options for government help – and, indeed, may have a better case than many sports federations as it traditionally has not been as dependent on handouts. But that’s still a huge shortfall.

And so, some 40 per cent of the 120 permanent staff (nearly 50 in all) are being laid off permanently, with the final official day June 5. And on June 5, another 30 per cent will be laid off for the summer – assuming that preparations can begin then for next year’s Rogers Cup/Coupe Rogers, and that tennis development activities resume.

The 30 per cent of employees that will remain after June 5 will see pay cuts ranging from ten to 25 per cent for the rest of 2020.

Deep cuts in player development

The cuts should be felt across the entire operation, but most notably in the development areas, RDS said. The national coaching squad is being severely cut back. And the cuts are expected to be felt all the way into the senior management team, per an Open Court source.

The two high-level professional tournaments represent approximately 90% of the revenues for the national federation – a situation that is similar at many national tennis federations that boast large-scale events in their country. So it’s a crushing blow.

The trickle-down effect is major – going right down to the provincial associations that depend on Tennis Canada for financing, and also have no revenue of their own at the moment with the cancellation of tournaments and programs.

Tennis B.C. and Tennis Alberta, Open Court is told, are already planning layoffs. And employees at Tennis-Québec are on salary reductions. We’re told that the provincial federations have received only 20 per cent of the expected grants from the mothership, and won’t get the balance.

The situation is hardly unique to Canada; we also hear that Tennis Australia – which did hold its Grand Slam this year, perhaps the only one to do so – also is planning layoffs for June.

RDS’s source also noted that even if the ATP didn’t plan to make any announcement on the summer hard-court season until June (a deadline echoed by the CEO of the USTA last week concerning the US Open), Tennis Canada expects a decision before that.

“We’re still hanging onto a slim hope that we can still hold the Toronto tournament. But we know very well that the chances are almost zero. It’s a painful day for tennis in the country,” RDS quotes the source as saying.