'A Wasted Opportunity' - German Tennis Chief Slams David Haggerty’s ITF Reforms - UBITENNIS
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ITF

‘A Wasted Opportunity’ – German Tennis Chief Slams David Haggerty’s ITF Reforms

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By Dirk Hordorff (DTB Vice President for Professional Tennis, Education and Wheel Chair Tennis)

 

Anyone who hoped that the ice age between the ITF and the players would have been over after the election of US David Haggerty, and that the new board would set new impulses for Davis and Fed Cup with courageous reforms, is very much deceived. Instead, it is more likely that someone needs to get rid of the shards that David Haggerty has piled up for the ITF in just two years.

The amount of errors, the persistent awkward acts and increasingly grotesque suggestions have brought Haggerty terrible defeats even among many of his followers.

It could have been so easy. The players reached out and submitted reasonable proposals for Davis Cup. But the ignorance and the lack of economic understanding have led the ITF into a dead end. Having friends as advisors who are only looking for their own interests has never been an advantage for anyone. In this context you can look at the crazy idea of a joint neutral final in the Davis Cup and semi-final and final in the Fed Cup in Geneva. The main point was to win votes for the president of the Swiss Tennis Federation Rene Stammbach and not about the interests of the players or the fans. But the calculation did not work. No event can be a success without the support of the players. Finally the board members of the ITF have also recognized it and pulled the emergency brake. Suddenly the Geneva idea was pulled out of circulation with flowery words before the ITF meeting.

And then the best joke: Best of 3 Format instead of Best of 5, that’s how David Haggerty wanted to increase his popularity among the players. Basically a good idea but that was just another episode of mistakes of the American. Why didn’t he get a majority? Just because the proposal was not thought through until the end and it ended up being a real beginner’s mistake.

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If you understand tennis, you should be able to imagine what the fans expect. And this is not an expensive ticket for a match of perhaps 91 minutes and then to be sent home. If you want to bring tennis forward you have to think a little further and especially long term because something is even more important than the opinion of individual players and that is the acceptance of the tennis fans and those who you could possibly win as new tennis enthusiasts. Canteen tennis is certainly contra productive.

Much better would be to follow the proposal of the ATP Players Council. The pros have already sent a letter to David Haggerty after US Open 2016 and made clear and reasonable suggestions. The ITF should have taken this opportunity but the letter has not even been made accessible to all board members. If you destroy opportunities you will not be able to successfully bring all parties together. As I said, a great chance wasted.

How easy it would have been to play the Davis Cup in the same format as the Fed Cup. On two days, with Best of 3, with the double at the end. At the very least, it would be ensured that every encounter was not decided at the beginning. This would have been supported by the DTB.

Now it is time to clean up the total damage caused by David Haggerty. With sensible minds in the ITF organization it is possible to reorganize and revive these team competitions. It would be sad if the ITF destroys its premium events. The DTB has supported the proposals at the last General Meeting with less set-up times and fewer commitments in the program and will continue to be willing to actively participate in meaningful reforms for Davis and Fed Cup.

There are solutions that would be supported by the players and fans. If players are enthusiastic about the event then fans will be coming to watch as well, the whole story will be a success and also a financial success for the ITF. Because the main reason behind all of this was how to generate more income. If you have a sense for the market and for tennis business then you should realize that a good product brings income and success in the long run.

What are the possibilities for a sensible Davis Cup reform?

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If you see the Davis Cup as a premium event, if you want to match it with a world team championship then you have to look at other sports who successfully market those kinds of events. Then we come to a main requirement of the players. Davis Cup should not be held every year and for sure not in the Olympic years.

At the moment, the finals take place every year in November and the title holder may already be exiled at the beginning of February. Why not play the Davis Cup either every two years or over three years, but not with four but with three encounters per year. This would solve one of the main problems in marketing of Davis Cup. One would have a manageable, predictable time frame to contact stadiums, cities and sponsors. How does it look today? In the middle of September the draw is made for the matches for the first week of February. Then the host country has to look for a venue, contact sponsors, design a marketing strategy, and since the Christmas season is in between, it becomes extremely difficult and often only emergency solutions remain.

For example, in year one it could be played in groups of four, according to a clear organizational scheme. In year two the corresponding return matches would take place. And in the third year, the final games with eight teams and three game days for the two top-placed teams of the group and for the last two teams in the world group the relegation games with the advancement candidates. Also in groups of four, with three matches. And in the Olympic year the DC does not take place. This is good and necessary for the schedule.

This way you organize the substructure, European, Asian and American Zone Groups, since there are already intelligent solutions. It would be too much to present everything here and in addition the ITF should also have to put in some time and thoughts themselves.

It is clear, and Mister Haggerty and the ITF must recognize, that they do not own the players. They earn their money on the ATP and WTA tour. Just as the football players earn their money in their clubs. But tennis players love Davis Cup and Fed Cup if they are reasonably organized. Money rarely plays a role in the decision to play for your country but as a professional athlete you must pay attention to your health and to your career. A professional athlete has that responsibility.

If the ITF and its president Haggerty thinks that they can make more money with a neutral final then their thinking is completely wrong. The players will not be there to compete in these events, they only will have the feeling that everything is done on their backs. Even the fans will not support it. For fans real home games have a special charm. And what will remain at the end is no income for the ITF.

The DTB has a close contact with its players and I didn’t have any discussions about money with respect to Davis or Fed Cup in the years I am involved. Our athletes have always made themselves available for their country and not for money. I hope that for many years I will be able to follow these great team events in Germany. I hope that the ITF does not miss out on these opportunities and takes the chance for the good of all nations, for the well being of the athletes and for the well being of our beautiful sport.

 

Davis Cup

(VIDEO) Ubaldo Scanagatta On A Week To Remember For Canada At The Davis Cup

The CEO of Ubitennis also shares his view about the format of the tournament and how he thinks it can be improved.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado/ Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

Canada has become the 16th nation to win the Davis Cup after producing a clinical performance against Australia in the final on Sunday. Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime both eased through their matches in straight sets to claim an historic victory for their country.

 

Watching the matches unfold from the sidelines was Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta who gives his verdict on events that has taken place in Malaga over the past week.

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Davis Cup

Canada Says There Are No Clear Favorite To Win Davis Cup After Reaching Final Four 

After suffering a surprise opening defeat, Canada managed to find their footing to keep its chance of winning their first Davis Cup title alive in Malaga. 

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Image via Kosmos media

This year’s Davis Cup champions will be decided with the help of a ‘little bit of luck and execution,’ according to the captain of the Canadian team. 

 

Canada secured their place in the semi-finals on Thursday by edging their way past Germany 2-1 after battling back from behind. The tie began with a shock loss for Denis Shapovalov who fell 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), to Jan-Lennard Struff who is currently ranked more than 100 places lower than him in the ATP rankings. However, the North American nation managed to level the tie with the help of Felix Auger-Aliassime who beat Oscar Otte 7-6(1), 6-4. 

With all to play for, the tie was decided by a critical doubles match that saw Shapovalov return to the court alongside Vasek Pospisil. Their opponents were the formidable Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puertz who had an 8-0 record in Davis Cup matches when playing together and had clinched the winning point for their team on seven occasions. The German duo started the stronger before Shapovalov and Pospisil battled back to prevail 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Sending Canada into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 2019. 

“Today (Thursday) was a perfect example of Davis Cup at its finest,” said Canadian captain Frank Dancevic. 
“It was amazing to watch. They showed so much heart going into the match. At the beginning of the match, it was tough to find the rhythm. But once they found the rhythm and once they got in the groove, they played lights out. They played amazing. Took control of the match.” He added.

Canada made their Davis Cup debut in 1913 but they are yet to win the title, finishing runners-up on two occasions. The last time they reached the final was three years ago when they were beaten by Spain in Madrid. 

Standing in their way of another place in the final this year is Italy who defeated the USA 2-1 in their quarter-final tie on Thursday. The other section of the draw will see Croatia take on Australia. Canada might be the only team in the quartet yet to win the trophy but Dencevic believes there is no clear favourite in this year’s tournament. 

“I don’t think right now everybody is playing incredible tennis, and there is so much that can happen in three matches with singles and doubles and there is so much diversity that I wouldn’t say there is a favourite team right now.” He said. 
“Out of the four teams, everybody is really good. We have to put ourselves in the position to win. Everybody’s going to be in the position to win. It’s just about who is going to execute at certain moments in the matches, and it will come down to a little bit of luck and a little bit of execution, but I think it’s very even throughout the field. We are all amazing teams going into the semis.”

Canada’s Semi-final clash with Italy will take place on Saturday. Croatia will play Australia later today. 

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Fed Cup

Australia Ousts Great Britain In Thriller To Reach BJK Cup Final

The host nation narrowly missed out on a place in the final but they have plenty of positives to motivate them for the future.

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The British Billie Jean King Cup team (image via LTA Twitter)

Australia has denied Great Britain an opportunity to play in their first team final since 1981 after prevailing 2-1 in an epic tussle at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

 

The gripping tie was level at 1-1 after each team won one of the singles matches, paving the way for a winner-takes-all doubles encounter. The British team featured Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls who were both making their debut in the competition this week. Their opponents were former Grand Slam winner Sam Stosur and world No.10 doubles player Storm Sanders.

Despite the gap in experience between the two pairings, there was almost nothing to distinguish between the two throughout the majority of their encounter which lasted more than two hours. Nevertheless, the Australian duo held their nerve to seal a 7-6(1), 6-7(5), 10-6, victory to send them into the final. 

“That was amazing. it could have gone either way and credit to the GB girls they played really well. They will be here again for sure.” Sanders said during her on-court interview. 

It is only the second time in the past 30 years that Australia has progressed to the final after 2019. Before playing Great Britain, they also defeated Belgium and Slovakia in the group stages. 

“A real credit to the four players out on court that was pretty inspirational, so I hope it inspires a lot more of you out there to play doubles. It was really such a high level you couldn’t pick it in the end.” Australian captain Alicia Molik commented on the doubles match. 

Earlier in the day, Australia got off to the perfect start with Sanders edging her way past Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6(3). However, the host nation battled back with an impressive performance from Harriet Dart who defeated Ajla Tomljanović 7-6(3), 6-2. A player who has reached the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year. 

“The Billie Jean King Cup just brings the best out of me. I love playing in front of a home crowd, and I feel like I have really been feeding off my teammates and everyone here. It just makes me really want to do really well.” Said Dart. 

The performances from the underdogs provide Britain with plenty of hope for the future. The nation lost in qualifying earlier this year but managed to enter the finals via wildcard due to the competition being held in their country. 

“I’m just gutted for everyone right now but also I think we have to try and keep things in perspective,” British captain Keothavong told reporters. 
“What a fantastic week it has been for the team. I don’t know how many people gave us much of a chance really to even come through the group stages.’
“It really is a fantastic achievement to reach the semifinals but we felt we could have gone further. That’s why it hurts so much.
“It’s going to hurt the players for a while but they’ll (the team) get over it. They can still hold their heads high because they have shown what they are capable of under a huge amount of pressure to deliver, and in the end, it came down to a few points.”

Australia will next play either Switzerland or the Czech Republic in the final. They are seeking to win the trophy for the first time since 1974.

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