ITF Press Release, April 22, 2020
The International Tennis Federation has announced the creation of the ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel for athletes competing on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour. The panel will provide a forum for players to provide their input and have their say on how the tour is run and will be a further opportunity for the ITF to engage with the player community.
Improving communication with players is an important part of the ITF2024 strategy. The ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel is the most-recent player panel to be formed, with ITF player panels already in place to represent athletes on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour (formed in 2018), the ITF Seniors circuit (2017) and ITF Beach Tennis Tour (2019).
The panel will advise and make recommendations to the ITF World Tennis Tour Committee, which in turn reports to the ITF Board of Directors.
The Men’s and Women’s tennis player communities will each elect a panel of seven current player members to represents its interests, together with an ITF-appointed Chair and an ITF-appointed coach.
Mark Woodforde, 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion, Gold & Silver Olympic medalist and former Davis Cup champion and Fed Cup coach for Australia, will chair the Men’s tennis panel. Mary Pierce, who won 4 Grand Slam, 18 WTA Singles and 10 WTA doubles titles and was a former Fed Cup player and finalist for France, will chair the Women’s tennis panel. In addition to their distinguished playing careers, Woodforde and Pierce serve as Athlete Representatives on the ITF Board of Directors.
Player members will vote, where voting is required, on each tour’s panel to make recommendations to the ITF World Tennis Tour Committee. The Chair and the Coach are non-voting members.
Panel members will be nominated and elected by players who compete on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour. Men’s tennis players with an ATP singles or doubles ranking no higher than No. 351 and women’s tennis players with a WTA singles or doubles ranking no higher than No. 151 are eligible to nominate a fellow player or stand in the election. Further criteria have also been devised to ensure that players from all regions and at all ranking-levels are suitably represented.
David Haggerty, ITF president, said: “It is vital that the views of players are represented at all levels of the sport and across the globe. That is why we are establishing an ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel to represent the interests and collective voice of athletes competing on the men’s and women’s ITF World Tennis Tour.
“We encourage tennis players to get involved with the player panel election process, this is an opportunity to contribute to making decisions for tennis through the exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas and to help shape the sport for future generations of players.”
The nomination period for the 2020-21 panel will open in May, with the outcome of the elections expected to be announced in the week of 15 June. The elected members will serve a term until the end of the 2021 season, and thereafter will sit for two-year terms.
Once elected, the panel will meet at least two times per year via video conference.
Mark Woodforde, chair of the men’s tennis panel and ITF Board athlete representative, said: “The ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel will be a great place for players to come together and discuss the issues that matter most to them. It is essential that athletes have a significant voice in the running of the sport, and the formation of this panel gives the ITF the more opportunities to engage collaboratively with the player community.”
Mary Pierce, chair of the women’s tennis panel and ITF Board athlete representative, said: “There would be no tennis without the players, so it is vital that their voice is heard and that their views are considered when making decisions about how to run the Tour. As chair of the women’s tennis panel, I will ensure that the players’ views are relayed to both the ITF Board and ITF World Tennis Tour Committee, so that the players’ opinions are heard at every level.”