SBJ/Nov. 18-24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ATP board again looks inside sport, selects tournament director Kermode as next leader

The ATP board of directors has selected British tournament director Chris Kermode as the tour’s next leader, three tennis sources said late last week. Contractual details were being negotiated at press time.

Chris Kermode runs the Aegon Championships, a Wimbledon tune-up event.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Kermode would replace the late Brad Drewett, the tour’s former executive chairman and president who died in May after a battle with ALS.

Not well-known outside of British tennis circles, Kermode was selected ahead of a group of tennis insiders, including ATP executive Mark Young and BNP Paribas Open executive Steve Simon.

“He is a fantastic person, very well-liked all around,” said Patricio Apey, who organizes tennis exhibitions, including one in the U.K. “And that sounds sort of like a cliché, but if you look at the role and the difficulty appointing someone, you have to be liked all around, and that means by tournaments and players.”

The ATP is a partnership between the game’s players and events, with each side getting three votes on the seven-person board. (Kermode would be the seventh vote.) That means the person in the top seat needs to bridge frequent splits between the sides.

Currently, Kermode runs the Aegon Championships, a Wimbledon tune-up event, and is the managing director of the season-ending championships in London. That event concluded last week having attracted, for the second consecutive year, more than 260,000 fans over its eight-day run.

The ATP has had a high degree of turnover with its top position in recent years. Adam Helfant assumed the post in 2009 but departed at the end of 2011 after he and the board could not settle on an extension of his contract. Drewett took over the role at the start of 2012 but announced his illness in January of this year and said that he would be stepping down.

Kermode would not be the first ATP leader to come from a smaller tournament. The first CEO of the modern ATP, Mark Miles, took on his role after running the Indianapolis tennis tournament, and he held the post for more than a decade and a half. He was succeeded by Etienne de Villiers, a Disney executive, who in turn ceded the post to Helfant. Both outsiders to tennis, they at times rubbed the sport’s insiders the wrong way. With the searches that settled on Drewett and Kermode, the ATP chose to look inside of the sport.

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