Category Archives: Tennis

ITF LAUNCHES ITF WORLD TENNIS TOUR

The ITF today announced the launch of the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2019 that will serve as a player pathway between the junior game and elite levels of professional tennis.

The launch of the tour is the culmination of a series of ITF reforms designed to support talented junior players in their progression to the senior game, and target the prize money effectively at professional tournaments to enable more players to make a living. The tour will also increase the number of nations hosting ITF tournaments in 2019, providing opportunities for more players.

The ITF World Tennis Tour forms part of a new worldwide tournament structure that has been agreed between the ITF, ATP and WTA in order to address the current challenges at entry level. Under the ITF World Tennis Tour umbrella, tournaments will be split into the following categories:

The ITF has unveiled the ITF World Tennis Tour™ logo and sub-brands that have been created to unify the look and feel of the ITF World Tennis Tour across over 1,600 tournaments that are expected to be staged in 2019.

The reforms followed a three-year ITF review of professional and junior tennis that included an analysis of player and event data from 2001-13, and a survey of more than 50,000 stakeholders. They address fundamental issues in the existing player pathway and changing trends in tennis that include too many players trying to compete on the professional circuit; too few players breaking even; longer playing careers at the top of the game; and the difficulty for many talented junior players in transitioning to professional tennis.

The first phase of the reforms saw an extensive programme of prize money increases on the ITF Pro Circuit in 2016 and 2017, with total prize money increasing by around $1.5 million.

The reforms announced today include the new tournament at entry-level – ITF World Tennis Tour 15s category – that will be staged within a more localised circuit structure with cheaper hosting requirements that reduce costs for players and tournament organisers. Offering ITF World Tennis Ranking points, these tournaments will also increase opportunities for players from more countries to join the pathway and be supported in their transition to professional tennis.

The introduction of the ITF World Tennis Ranking will ensure a consistent approach for entries into all events, with players using their ATP/WTA ranking followed by ITF ranking.

In order that successful players in juniors, 15s and men’s 25s tournaments are able to progress more quickly to the next level, there will be reserved places in higher-level tournaments for highly-ranked players on the ITF Junior World Ranking and ITF World Tennis Ranking. This includes reserved places for ITF-ranked players in the main draw and qualifying of ATP Challenger tournaments.

The implementation of the new ATP, WTA and ITF ranking systems will take place at the end of 2018. Any ATP or WTA ranking points earned at $15,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournaments (as well ATP points earned in early rounds of $25,000 Pro Circuit events) in 2018 will be converted into ITF World Tennis Ranking points.

ITF President David Haggerty said: “The ITF World Tennis Tour provides a clear and integrated pathway designed to attract and retain the best new talent. As part of our ITF2024 strategy, it is our mission to deliver for the next generation of players, and the new Tour will help address the issues of progression between the junior and senior game, and potentially enable more professional players to make a living.”

Thomas Konigsfeldt, Chair of the ITF Men’s and Women’s Circuit Committees, said: “It is vital that we provide opportunities for players of any nation or background to start their journey towards the top 100. The inclusion of the 15s tournaments as part of a new Tour will allow players to take the first steps towards becoming a future champion within a more targeted and affordable circuit structure.”

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ITF ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH KPMG CZECH REPUBLIC FOR FED CUP BY BNP PARIBAS FINAL

The ITF has announced an agreement with KPMG Czech Republic, a leading provider of consulting services, to become an international partner of the 2018 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final. Czech Republic and USA will contest the title decider at Prague’s O2 Arena on 10-11 November

KPMG joins the Fed Cup family of sponsors that includes title sponsor BNP Paribas, international sponsor Adecco, Official Global Media Rights Partner beIN SPORTS, and Fed Cup Final international partner Toray.

KPMG is looking to inspire the next generation of female business leaders at the Fed Cup Final by inviting female business students from universities across the Czech Republic and some of the best performing female staff at KPMG. The Fed Cup Final will offer a dynamic platform for guests to network and explore what it means to achieve great results, whether in sport or business.

ITF President David Haggerty said: “We are pleased to welcome KPMG to our family of sponsors at the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Final. The company shares the ITF’s desire to create more opportunities for women to become leaders in sport, and we are delighted to partner with them this weekend. Alongside KPMG’s own activities at the Final, the ITF is holding an Empowering Female Leaders workshop for 11 of the top female tennis officials in Europe.”

Radek Halicek, Managing Partner of KPMG Czech Republic, said: “We are very excited to be an official partner of the 2018 Fed Cup Final by BNP Paribas. At KPMG, we are committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation of female leaders. The Fed Cup Final therefore offers a great platform for KPMG to highlight its commitment to women in both sport and in business.

“KPMG will be using the Fed Cup Final to invite the brightest female business talent from KPMG and universities in the Czech Republic, and showcase what it takes to be successful leader. What you really need in Fed Cup are strong and talented individuals that work together as a perfect team. And that is exactly what we in KPMG believe in and where our successes come from.”

KPMG Czech Republic is one of the largest providers of consulting services in the country, with over 1,000 specialists. As a member of a global network of professional firms, KPMG Czech Republic can draw on the knowledge and experience of more than 200,000 experts working in 154 countries.

CZECHS AIMING TO END 33-YEAR FED CUP LOSING RUN AGAINST USA

For all their recent successes in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, there is one thing that the Czechs have not been able to achieve in over 30 years – a victory against the most-successful Fed Cup nation of all time, USA, has eluded them since 1985.

They will have a chance to end that winless streak this weekend, with the Fed Cup Final seeing Petr Pala’s Czech team face off with 2017 title-winners USA, led by Kathy Rinaldi, who is unbeaten in her five ties since taking over the captaincy last year.

Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Strycova (USA)
Photo: Martin Sidorjak

“It will be great playing the US, an amazing final,” Pala mused after Czech Republic’s semifinal victory over Germany earlier this year – and he’s not wrong. A team that has won five of the last seven Fed Cup titles taking on the defending champions, who have not lost in over two years – what could be better?

The Czechs’ last victory against USA came in the 1985 Final when, as Czechoslovakia, Helena Sukova and Hana Mandlikova posted singles triumphs to steer the team to victory. But the Americans hit back in the Final the following year – a tie which, coincidentally, was the only time that the Czechs and Americans have previously played in Prague – with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova winning the trophy back for USA.

And the Americans have gone on to win the nations’ subsequent seven meetings, including their most-recent clash – a 3-2 victory in the 2017 semifinals at the Saddlebrook Resort in Florida.

But despite all that history, it is hard to look past the Czechs’ phenomenal recent record at the business end of the competition. And playing at home, where they have won three of their five titles since 2011, will surely be a boost for the team.

“Every Fed Cup Final is great to play, but especially when you are at home,” Pala continued after the semifinal victory in April. “I hope it will be a sold-out crowd.” (It is – with 10,700 fans guaranteed at the O2 Arena on both days of play.)

“The motivation from the start has been to play a Final at home. We didn’t have to say anything more. I don’t have to motivate them anymore. They love to play Fed Cup. They love to play in front of their home crowd.”

Pala’s team is immensely strong, even in spite of Saturday’s news that world No. 8 Karolina Pliskova is likely to miss the tie with a calf injury. Petra Kvitova, the world No. 7, will lead the team with support from world No. 31 Katerina Siniakova (also ranked No. 1 in doubles) and world No. 33 Barbora Strycova.

Having won all four of the rubbers she has contested this year, Kvitova could complete a perfect year in singles for the second time in her career if she wins two singles rubbers this weekend. And perhaps even more significantly, victory this weekend would see her claim her sixth Fed Cup title and equal Rosie Casals in third place on the list for most Fed Cup titles won as a player, behind only Evert and Billie Jean King.

The Czechs will not, however, underestimate their opposition. Rinaldi has named three debutants in her quartet, all of whom will be keen to prove themselves on the biggest stage in women’s team tennis.

Alison Riske is the only member of last year’s winning team to make the journey to Prague, with Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and Nicole Melichar all set to make their Fed Cup debuts this weekend. Inexperienced though the team may be, their talent is not in short supply, with Collins and Kenin both fixtures in the world’s Top 50, while Melichar is a Top 20 doubles player.

But perhaps more important than the personnel is the camaraderie that Rinaldi seems to engender within her teams. The players may be different, but the philosophy is likely to stay the same.

“I make it about the players. They’re the ones competing for their country,” Rinaldi explained after the semifinals in April. “I try to bring organisation, experience, preparation, lots of homework. I have a great coach in Lisa Raymond – and having fun is an element too.”

It has been a strategy that has worked for Rinaldi in her two years as Fed Cup captain so far – but facing the Czechs in Prague is unquestionably their toughest test yet.

Tom Moran

Nigeria Sweeps Titles at ITF W/chair Tennis Futures

Alex Adewale and Kafayat Omisore emerged champions of the men’s and women’s singles of the Puma ITF Wheelchair Tennis Futures in Abuja over the weekend.

The winning outing marked a glorious return of Nigeria to the international stage after a few years of absence due to financial challenges.

Adewale, a London 2012 Paralympian defeated Kenyan top seed, Peter Naveh 6-1, 6-0 while Omisore also got the better of Jane Ndenga of Kenya 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Prior to the final on Saturday at the National Tennis Centre, Package B, National Stadium, Abuja, Adewale had paired two-time Paralympian Wasiu Yusuf to claim the doubles title at the expense of Kenyan duo of Peter Naveh and Collins Omonde while Omisore also teamed up with Kemi Oluwasegun to beat Ndenga, who paired Nigerian Foluke Shodehinde, to clinch the women’s doubles crown of the $3, 000 prize-money event.

Former NTF president, Engr. Sani Ndanusa, who facilitated the tournament and also footed the bills of the players, pledged to ensure that Nigeria consolidates on the success recorded in the tournament stressing that the resounding success ensured Nigeria reclaimed its status as a leading force in the sport in Africa.

He hinted that the players would be motivated to ensure they put up a similar display at the African Championship billed for Accra Ghana in February 2019.

The Nigerian team was represented by 10 male and 5 female players with all but Adewale and Yusuf making their debut in international tournament.

ITF Wheelchair Tennis Futures: Nigeria Wins Gold in Doubles Finals

Nigeria reclaimed its status as a leading force in wheelchair tennis in Africa following the triumph of its players in the doubles event of the Puma ITF Wheelchair Tennis Futures in Abuja on Friday.

The duo of Alex Adewale and Wasiu Yusuf won the doubles final with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0 scoreline over Peter Naveh and Collins Omonde of Kenya while Kafayat Omisore paired Kemi Oluwasegun to beat Kenya’s Jane Ndenga who partnered homegirl Foluke Shodehinde to clinch the women’s doubles title.

The final of the $3,000 prize-money event holds Saturday with Omisore facing prime seed, Ndenga in the women’s singles final while the other Nigeria-Kenya showdown will see Adewale confront Naveh, the top seed, in the men’s singles final.

Adewale, a London 2012 Paralympian thanked former NTF President Engr. Sani Ndanusa for facilitating the event which he pointed out will serve as a stepping stone to most of the players who were making their debut at an international tournament.

Nigeria’s coach, Frank Tarmena is optimistic of a clean medal sweep commending the players for their commitment to excel at the tournament.

Tarmena, the ITF Wheelchair Developmental Officer for West and Central Africa believes the success enjoyed by the Team Nigeria will rekindle the huge interest in the game urging sponsors to identify with the sport.

PORTUGAL AND SLOVAKIA JOIN LINE-UP FOR 2019 DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS QUALIFIERS

The ITF and Kosmos Tennis announced today that Portugal and Slovakia complete the line-up for the 2019 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers to be held on 1-2 February.

Portugal and Slovakia are the two remaining nations to qualify from the Europe/Africa region based on the Davis Cup Nations Ranking of Monday 29 October following the 2018 Europe/Africa Zone Group I play-offs.

In the play-offs, Portugal defeated South Africa 4-0 on 19-20 October, and Slovakia defeated Belarus 3-1 on 26-27 October.

The draw to determine the opponents for Portugal and Slovakia in the 2019 Qualifiers will be held at the ITF offices in London on Tuesday 30 October at 09:30 GMT. The two nations will be drawn against Canada and Kazakhstan, whose opponents were still to be confirmed at the draw for the 2019 Qualifiers on 26 September.

Based on previous meetings between the two nations, Canada would be away to Portugal or Slovakia, while Kazakhstan would be at home against Portugal or Slovakia.

The full draw is as follows:

2019 Qualifiers (1-2 February)
Brazil (c) v Belgium (s)
Uzbekistan (c) v Serbia (s)
Australia (c) (s) v Bosnia/Herzegovina
India (c) v Italy (s)
Germany (c) (s) v Hungary
Switzerland (c) (s) v Russia
Kazakhstan (s) v Europe/Africa Nation TBC
Czech Republic (c) (s) v Netherlands
Colombia (c) v Sweden (s)
Austria (c) (s) v Chile
Canada (s) v Europe/Africa Nation TBC
China, P.R. (c) v Japan (s)

(s) denotes seeded nation
(c) denotes choice of ground

The 12 winning nations in the Qualifiers will compete in the 2019 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas finals at La Caja Magica in Madrid on 18-24 November. They will join the four countries that reached the semifinals this year (France, Croatia, United States and Spain), and two wildcards: Argentina and Great Britain.

ALBERT COSTA NAMED TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OF DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS FINALS

Albert Costa, a former Davis Cup champion with extensive experience as director of tennis tournaments and development projects, has joined Kosmos Tennis’s team as Competition Director and Davis Cup finals Tournament Director.

Costa will oversee all sporting aspects of the competition and the implementation of the new Davis Cup format in 2019, following the agreement signed by Kosmos Tennis and the ITF on 16 August at the ITF AGM in Orlando.

“We are really proud to have Albert Costa in our team to be part of our project and share with us the vision and enthusiasm to consolidate this new historic stage of the competition,” said Javier Alonso, CEO of Kosmos Tennis. “His experience as a former elite tennis player and Davis Cup captain, as well as his subsequent successful tennis projects, will provide huge impetus to the development of Kosmos Tennis’s sports capability. On behalf of the whole team, I want to give Albert our warmest welcome.”

Costa will be the second former player to join the company following Galo Blanco, Chief Competition Officer of Kosmos Tennis and member of the Davis Cup Steering Committee.

Albert Costa said: “Joining this project offers me a superb new challenge. I’m very excited that my work with Kosmos Tennis will give me the opportunity to get involved in the Davis Cup again, a competition I witnessed and enjoyed from the inside and from which I had many positive experiences. We still have a long way to go and I want to thank Kosmos Tennis for the opportunity and the trust they have placed in me at this new stage in my professional career.”

Albert Costa competed as a professional tennis player from 1992 to 2006. During his career, he won 12 titles, including 2002 Roland Garros, and was ranked in the world´s Top 10. Costa was also a member of the team that won the first Davis Cup for Spain in 2000 at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, and was the captain of the Spanish team from 2009 until 2011, winning two more titles (Barcelona in 2009 and Sevilla in 2011). He is one of 18 tennis players who, throughout the 118 years of Davis Cup history, has won the title both as a player and as a captain.

Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with 127 nations taking part in 2018. The competition is 118 years old, having been founded in 1900. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas (Official Bank of Davis Cup). International sponsors are Rolex (Official Timekeeper) and Adecco (Official HR Sponsor), while Head (Official Ball) is an international partner. beIN SPORTS is the Official Global Media Rights Partner. In 2019, the all-new Davis Cup by BNP Paribas finals will be hosted at the iconic La Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain. Twenty-four nations will contest the Qualifiers on 1-2 February, competing in 12 locations around the world on a home-and-away basis. The 12 winning teams will join the 2018 semi-finalists plus two wild card teams in an 18-nation Davis Cup season finale.