Tennis Australia President calls for overhaul of Davis and Federation Cups
Tennis Australia President Steve Healy has called for an overhaul of the Davis and Fed Cup national team tournaments in order to ensure their survival.
The men's Davis Cup tournament and the women's Federation Cup competition are the two longest-running tennis team events, but Healy said the future of both could be at risk unless the sport’s best players take part on a regular basis.
Healy told The Age newspaper that changes must be made in order to attract the better players, stating "the players are telling us that they're struggling to fit it into their schedule, so they’re not supporting it continually or willingly.
“I think unless you get all the players all of the time, you haven't got an event.
“The main message is that we need to look at some options, because I don't want this to die and to lose its profile, and that's where I feel it just doesn't get the attention that it should, as an event.”
Healy, who is also a board member of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) global governing body, said the introduction of an annual world cup-style finals playoff would help attract the best players and generate greater revenues. Under this format, men’s and women’s teams would compete for separate Davis Cup and Federation Cup trophies in October, with the exception of an Olympic year. Qualification rounds would be needed to determine the finalists.
The format of the tournaments has been debated for some time, with ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti having previously suggested three key principles of home-and-away ties, each country nominating its own players, and an annual competition.
While stressing that these are his personal views, Healy said he would seek Tennis Australia’s support to promote the reform agenda internationally.
Healy concluded “(a new format) works because it builds to a crescendo at the end. What happens with Davis Cup and Fed Cup is you have a week, and people get excited about it, and then all the momentum just drops away. People don't know when the next round is, or who's playing, or where, or whatever.
“I just wonder whether it's possible to put it into a defined timeslot – maybe it's almost the equivalent of a fifth grand slam, in terms of its profile, it could be a two-week block, maybe a little bit more than two weeks, and I think you could make real money out of it, and I think the sport needs it, quite frankly.
“There’s a lot of small events around the world that aren't doing very well, and if you create another big one, a national one, I think you'd have the eyes of the world on it.”
8th January 2014 - MARGARET COURT ARENA SET FOR THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
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