It is hardly surprising that the ATP World Tour is focusing internally while searching for its next leader, given the experiences of the previous two outsiders hired to run the organization.
During the ATP’s current incarnation as leader of both players and tournaments, it has had three top executives: Mark Miles, who ran the organization for 16 years until 2005; Etienne de Villiers for three years; and then Adam Helfant, who is stepping down in December when his three-year stint ends.
De Villiers and Helfant had one thing in common: Both were outsiders to the sport and both ended their time amid controversy.
De Villiers, a South African Walt Disney executive, ushered in bold change that led to an antitrust lawsuit against the ATP brought by one of its tournaments, and a furious player push to unseat him.
Sources said Helfant, a former Nike executive, was paid millions in sponsor bonuses, and then wanted a major increase in his base pay in his next contract. The tour board resisted and also wanted to find someone who would promote the sport more than the behind-the-scenes Helfant, a frequent no-show at events.
Miles, by contrast, was a tournament director when chosen to run the tour.
Now the ATP is looking at two other insiders, Brad Drewett and Mark Young.
Young is Drewett’s counterpart as the ATP’s CEO of the Americas. A lawyer
The ATP board meets this week in New York, where the process should become clearer, with one of the two executives perhaps becoming a front-runner, or the search thrown open to others. If the latter is the case, the ATP might then go into 2012 with an interim leader.
Almost entirely out of the question is the man the ATP board passed over three years ago, then WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott, who proposed a merger of the two tours. Rebuffed, Scott soon left tennis to become Pac-10 commissioner, where he landed the biggest TV deal in college sports.