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Volume 22 No. 43
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Plugged In: Morgan Menahem, IPTL

The International Premier Tennis League begins its second season in Kobe, Japan, on Dec. 2, and over the next 18 days it will bring an all-star band of nearly three dozen tennis players to a host of global locales. Morgan Menahem is in charge of securing the players, and with a budget of more than $20 million, he’s assembled a who’s who of the tennis world, including Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. The native Parisian, who attended Florida State and previously ran his own player rep business, was part of the IPTL through its planning and the debut of the league last year.

The first year was very unique, and very enjoyable for the players. The feedback from the players was fantastic; all of them really enjoyed the team spirit. … They don’t get that during the year.

On the IPTL’s commercial structure: Our teams are individually owned. The teams split revenues between the IPTL and the teams on everything, from TV revenues to sponsorship revenues to the ticket sales. We run the league as the IPTL, and they have the players. They pay the players; we do the draft and organize the travel.

Photo by: ACE DE COEUR
On TV and sponsor commitments: We have got deals in more than 100 countries. Coca-Cola is our naming sponsor, Qatar Airways our presenting sponsor.
On profitability: Our teams will start to break even or make money this year. … IPTL for us last year, we lost a bit of money, and this year, we are looking at breaking even or making a bit of money, which is fairly quick for a new venture like this.

On reaction to the IPTL from the pro tours and concerns about player injuries: We had a lot of people doubt we could ever get off the ground, and when we started, when they realized what it was and they saw what it was and the players’ feedback came back in, the reaction was pretty good. … Both tours, the ATP and WTA, never said anything negative about the IPTL. We are trying to do something for tennis in Asia. These countries don’t have professional tennis available to them. In Manila [last year], we played in an NBA-style arena for three nights, and people went crazy. They loved it, because they have never seen it before.

On the promotion of Serena Williams playing her first match since the U.S. Open with the IPTL: The promotion is in Japan. She is coming to Kobe, and locally we will have something. People are looking forward to seeing Serena.

— Daniel Kaplan