WTA Proposing Creation Of World Cup-Style Event That Could Begin By '17
WTA officials are "considering the creation of a new tour team event," a week-long, World Cup-style tournament "featuring eight teams that would be staged annually in a single location," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said that a wild-card team "would be at the discretion of the host nation while the other seven nations would be determined by the year-end singles rankings of their No. 1 players." Allaster said that the idea for the new event, still "much a work in progress, came out of extensive market research in the past year and that if the concept gains traction, it could begin" as early as '17. Clarey notes the history of professional tennis is "littered with grand plans that failed to materialize, but the WTA’s proposed World Cup -- the name is not yet official -- is intriguing because of the relatively low profile of the Fed Cup, the existing annual women’s team event that is owned and operated" by the Int'l Tennis Federation. But Allaster said that the proposed WTA event "should not be perceived as a threat to the Fed Cup." However, when informed of the proposal, Caroline Garcia, who competes in the Fed Cup, said, “So it’s being created to challenge Fed Cup then?” ITF Professional Tennis Exec Dir Kris Dent said, “Do I think this event will replicate and put Fed Cup out of business? No. I see it as complementary.” As part of its long-range planning, Allaster said that the WTA "polled more than 5,000 tennis fans and non-tennis fans in five markets in the first six months of this year and also had surveyed broadcasters and potential sponsors." Among the findings are that fans "want a deeper connection with players, and the WTA needs to make it easier for fans to follow the season and the live broadcasts." Allaster said that the polling also "revealed a strong appetite for new events" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).