The Relationships among Stakeholders in the Organization of Men's Professional Tennis Events

By Sorrentini, Alessandra; Pianese, Tommasina | Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal, April 2011 | Go to article overview

The Relationships among Stakeholders in the Organization of Men's Professional Tennis Events


Sorrentini, Alessandra, Pianese, Tommasina, Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal


Promoters of Professional Tennis Circuits

Men's professional tennis is characterized by the high number of events that make up the annual calendar and by the unique organizational models of tournaments.

The current organizational structure of professional tennis is in fact the result of a complex historical process during which various actors have alternated in the promotion of professional circuits and in the organization of tournaments. * Therefore it is useful to begin by giving a concise description of the relevant actors and the milestones that led to such configuration.

Professional tennis can be traced back to 1913 when was created the International Tennis Federation (referred to henceforth as the ITF) which still is the governing body of world tennis. The current functions of the ITF are, in addition to the promotion of tennis, the coordination of some of the most prestigious tennis tournaments constituting the Grand Slam circuit, namely the Wimbledon Championships (1877), the U.S. Open (1881), the Roland Garros (1891) and the Australian Open (1905); the development of professional tours for men and women; the organization of international under 18 junior circuits.

Since its creation, the promotion of professional circuits was essentially entrusted to the ITF. However, with the advent of the Open era in 1968, the strict separation between amateur and professional circuit was abandoned and new promoters such as the National Tennis League (henceforth the NTL) and the World Championship Tennis (henceforth the WCT) emerged ([dagger]).

These promoters played a significant role in the running of professional tennis since they established specific relationships with professional athletes under contract so the respective organizations selected the tournaments where the players had to participate to receive monetary compensation in exchange for their athletic performance. In this modus operandi tournament organizers paid the NTL or the WCT to ensure that the athletes participate in their competitions. This led to such an adversarial relationship with the ITF because of the opposing bargaining power that the WCT (which in 1969 absorbed the NTL) prevented their athletes in 1971 and 1972 from participating in the Grand Prix- a circuit of tournaments promoted by the ITF ([double dagger]) However, the organizational structure of professional circuits remained unchanged for a long period of time although there were significant changes in the management approaches adopted by these bodies after the Association Tennis Professionals (henceforth the ATP) was set up in 1972 which led to the final dissolution of the WCT in 1984 ([section]).

The ATP--established as a players association delegated to protect athletes' rights with respect to both the ITF and the WCT- soon assumed a crucial role in the development of professional tennis. Indeed, important actions were carried out from the beginning of its activities aimed at improving the overall functioning of the organization and management of professional tennis which gave the ATP a highly innovative character. In 1973 the association established the computer ranking system, an information system that manages information about tennis players' performances in order to determine athletes' access to tournaments in a rational way. The introduction of this system has created positive prospects for economic returns and increased the appeal of the tournaments due to a higher technical level of competition. Furthermore, in 1974, the first attempts were made to ensure cooperation between the various Stakeholders with the institutionalization of the Men's International Professional Tennis Council (MIPTC); this body, which consists of the International Federation, ATP and tournament directors, and is based on the principles of independence and autonomy of government, represented an important first opportunity for the renewal of professional tennis. …

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