SBJ/20090406/IMG World Congress Of Sports

Tennis: The challenge of bridging divisions in a growing global game

Tennis has enjoyed prosperity in the last few years, but its future is clouded by the divide between organizers like the ATP, WTA and U.S. Tennis Association, panelists said.

Division between stakeholders in the sport have limited its ability to drive new revenue by expanding its sponsorship base, fan base and media rights, said Larry Scott, the outgoing CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Panelists
Aldo Liguori
corporate vice president,
head of global communications and public relations,
Sony Ericsson
Larry Scott
outgoing CEO of the WTA Tour and new commissioner of the Pac-10
Fernando Soler
senior vice president and managing director,
IMG Tennis Worldwide
Ken Solomon
chairman and CEO,
Tennis Channel
Mark Young
CEO, Americas,
ATP World Tour
Patrick McEnroe
general manager of elite player development,
USTA

“Tennis is doing extremely well, but it can do better,” Scott added. “It can do better if there’s greater cooperation, not only between the ATP and WTA but also these four iconic events we’ve got called the Grand Slam that are each independent events, huge in their own right. But the more we can do together, the more power we’ll have in the market.”

The ATP World Tour’s Mark Young echoed Scott, saying his organization had worked to do everything from creating economic efficiencies with the WTA to working on anti-doping initiatives. But he said, “There are a lot of very complex issues to be resolved, many of them economic.”

IMG Tennis Worldwide’s Fernando Soler  said it “cannot be done in one day. The moment you get into how you split revenues then you become sensitive.”

Sony Ericsson’s Aldo Liguori said  sponsors would welcome looking “at how an activity like tennis can be more interesting, more exciting and more energetic.”

According to panelists, no single tennis site drives the kind of significant traffic that other sports leagues and successful Web sites generate.

“This is a place where alignment [would help] and more of it is necessary,” Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon said.

Stories by staff writers Tripp Mickle, Jon Show, Eric Fisher and John Ourand. Photos by Alex Gort Sr. / Gort Productions.

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