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By Justin Cohen @JustinCohen44

Novak Djokovic

The Times reporting a November launch for International Premier Tennis League (IPTL)

According to an article written by Matt Cutler on SportsBusiness.com, tennis is set to become the latest sport to attempt to create its own version of cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL), according to The Times. The UK newspaper reports that a November launch has been primed for the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which will be played across Asia and will be backed by princes and governments across the region and the Middle East. Like the IPL, the IPTL is said to be modeled on a city-based franchise league format including not only current grand slam champions but also past stars. The Times states that the inaugural league will be staged from late November until just before Christmas, with matches played on a home-and-away basis across Asia. It is understood that a number of the sport’s top stars in the men’s and women’s game are already contracted to the IPTL and will be auctioned to an initial six teams. Indian sports, entertainment and new media agency Globosport is said to be behind the plans. Globosport was founded by Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi. An IPTL match is planned to consist of five sets, with no-advantage scoring. Each match would consist of one set each of men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and a legends singles. This format has been drawn up to ensure matches do not exceed three hours in a bid to cater to television audiences. The likes of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams have all been talked of as leading targets for the new event.

Sony Open outlines plans for Crandon Park Tennis Center renovations

Tournament organizers for the recently completed Sony Open in Miami unveiled plans last week for a fully-renovated Crandon Park Tennis Center and a construction timeline that would see the project getting underway this time next year. The Tournament’s vision includes permanent show courts, landscaped green spaces, and the addition of new park facilities that will be open to the public when the Sony Open is not in session. The Sony Open’s owner, IMG, is prepared to begin construction on April 1, 2014, immediately following next year’s Tournament. The announcement comes as the Sony Open grows in stature as an international event that brings the world’s top tennis players to Miami, draws visitors from across the globe, and generates an economic impact totaling $386 million each year. Tournament attendance has climbed by 52% and the number of international visitors who attend the event has risen by 500% since Stadium Court opened in 1994. The 2012 Sony Open drew more than 326,000 attendees – nearly 20% of whom came from outside the US – and resulted in the booking of more than 15,000 hotel room nights. “The Sony Open’s evolution into a top-tier global tournament has mirrored Miami’s rise as a global city, broadcasting the city’s brand around the world and attracting visitors from overseas,” said Tournament Director Adam Barrett. “What began as a regional event has grown to become one of the premier stops on the professional tour, and we believe the Sony Open deserves first-rate facilities. Our investment in upgrading the Crandon Park Tennis Center will insure international tennis remains in Miami for the long-term.” Accommodating the Tournament’s growth requires undertaking a renovation project that will improve the patron and player experience, while insuring the Crandon Park Tennis Center remains a world-class facility. Planned upgrades include three new permanent show courts with fixed seating, locker rooms and training facilities for players, and improved broadcast facilities for global media partners. New green spaces will be landscaped with plants and trees native to Key Biscayne, including a central water feature. An outdoor viewing mound featuring a video screen will enable Tournament attendees to view matches in a park-like setting. The Sony Open’s growth has also enhanced Miami’s global brand: the 2013 tournament was viewed by more than 45 million people around the world, up from 14.5 million people in 2005. This year’s Tournament was viewed by audiences in 193 countries.

Andy Roddick Foundation announces new directors

The Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF) announced on Monday its new Board of Directors, assembled to help ARF achieve its mission to develop and inspire underserved youth through education and sports-based mentoring. Retired former World No. 1 and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick has relocated his foundation to Austin, Texas, and recruited a new team to transform ARF from an all-volunteer charity into a professional, not-for-profit organization focused on after-school programs that teach character and life lessons to underserved youth. “It’s humbling to have such incredibly accomplished and experienced people believe in our mission and want to work together to steer us through our next phase of growth,” Roddick said. Leading the team is CEO Jeff Lau, with a wealth of experience in several management, operations, and finance roles. Lau, who is also a new director, said, “Today’s announcement underscores the Foundation’s commitment to create, deliver, and support high-quality programs that can change the arc of a child’s life.” Roddick will chair the Board and is joined by several others including tennis legend Billie Jean King. Additional directors include Paul Bell, Andy Esparza, Maria Farahani and Phillip Meyers.

MercedesCup in Stuttgart switching to grass courts in 2015

The MercedesCup in Stuttgart will become an ATP World Tour grass court tournament starting in 2015. The tournament’s request to move to a grass court event taking place the week following Roland Garros in the lead up to Wimbledon beginning in 2015 was approved by the ATP Board of Directors at its recent meetings in Miami during the Sony Open. With Wimbledon taking place a week later in the calendar from 2015, a three-week gap will be incorporated in the ATP World Tour calendar in between Roland Garros and The Championships, meaning an additional week of tournaments in the lead up to Wimbledon. Brad Drewett, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said: “The ATP is pleased to confirm that the request by the MercedesCup in Stuttgart to move to a grass court event in the week after Roland Garros from 2015 has been approved by the ATP Board of Directors. The MercedesCup in Stuttgart presented an extremely thorough application and we have full confidence that they will deliver a high-level ATP grass court event in the lead up to Wimbledon. As part of our process in setting the 2015 ATP World Tour calendar, we continue to review other options for the three-week period between Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2015.” The MercedesCup will join the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club, the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, the AEGON International in Eastbourne, the Topshelf Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport as ATP World Tour grass court tournaments.

Rio launches new combined ATP/WTA event

ATP Americas CEO, Mark Young, ATP Chief Player Officer Andre Silva and WTA CEO Stacey Allaster helped officially launch the new Rio Open last week in Brazil. The new event joins other global events in Rio de Janeiro, including the 2016 Olympics, the 2014 World Cup, Rock in Rio, New Year’s Eve in Copacabana and Carnival, strengthening the city as one of the major worldwide tourist destinations. It is the only tournament in South America to host an ATP World Tour 500 and WTA International combined event. It will be held from February 15-23, 2014 at the Brazilian Jockey Club, which includes a stadium with a seating capacity of 7,000. “It is a great privilege for IMX to bring an event of this magnitude to Brazil. The Rio Open is here to stay and it will be the largest annual sporting event in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The date acquisition of Memphis in 2012 was the first step to enter the world of tennis and the next will be holding the event in 2014, with the presence of big names in the sport”, said Alan Adler, CEO of IMX. “We are very pleased that the calendar in 2014 includes a new ATP World Tour 500 in Rio de Janeiro, a renowned destination and that will be the focus of the sporting world in the coming years with a series of major events. I’m sure that Rio will be an extremely popular destination among our players, who are eager to bring the best to the passionate Brazilian fans of tennis. We wish all the best for the organization, with IMX ahead of this first edition of the tournament in 2014”, says ATP Executive Chairman & President Brad Drewett.

New Prince CEO Ballardie joins Tennis Industry Association (TIA) Board of Directors

According to a press release, Mike Ballardie, the new CEO of Prince Global Sports, is the newest member of the Tennis Industry Association’s Board of Directors. Ballardie, who is based in London, has been responsible for Prince’s operations in the eastern hemisphere for nearly 10 years. We’re delighted to have Mike join our Board of Directors and Executive Committee,” said TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “I’m very much looking forward to working with him, along with the entire Board of Directors and our industry partners, in helping to grow this industry.” Ballardie has played tennis since the age of 4, including seven years as a professional player and coach, and has held positions at Wilson Sporting Goods, VF Corp., and Benetton in Europe. “I have been involved in the tennis world as a player, a coach and as a business career,” Ballardie said. “The opportunity to lead Prince as its CEO is a tremendous honor and privilege.”

10 and Under Tennis Workshop in Delray Beach includes free Fed Cup Ticket

A 10 and Under Tennis Workshop will be held for coaches and instructors of all levels, from after-school to professional development, during the U.S. Fed Cup match against Sweden on Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Delray Beach, Fla. For the $20 workshop fee (only $10 for USTA members), participants will also receive a ticket to Saturday play at the Fed Cup at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Fla. The workshop will have a 9 a.m. check-in, and run from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the Fed Cup matches starting at 2 p.m. USTA National Trainers Kirk Anderson, Susan Allshouse and Spanish-speaking coach Jose Caballero will provide workshop participants with the tools and age-specific activities that will have kids experiencing the fun of the 10 and Under Tennis format. “This tennis workshop is a great educational opportunity to learn how to introduce and develop children via the 10 and Under Tennis principals and philosophy,” says USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “We are encouraging any level of teacher, instructor, coach, teaching professional and anyone that works with younger children to attend this workshop, as we will be customizing it to our audience. It is also an exciting opportunity to partner with USTA national to allow our workshop participants to attend a first-rate workshop led by Kirk Anderson, and then attend the Fed Cup matches afterwards and support the U.S. players.”

Luigi Bertino named Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) Clinician of the Year

From May 2-5 at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island, the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) will present its annual awards and PTR Master Professional Luigi Bertino of Italy will take home the PTR Clinician of the Year. Currently, Bertino is the Director of Education for PTR Italy. Since 1992, he has been the Director of World Class Training at Van der Meer Tennis University in Marlengo, Italy. He is also the Director of Tennis at Club Monviso in Turin, and Head Coach at the Italian Tennis Federation’s (FIT) Regional Tennis Center. Betino’s primary focus is player development programs for junior and researching teaching methods for 10 and under tennis. He has written numerous articles for Tennis Italiano Magazine and has been a speaker at many international tennis conferences.

Wawrinka launches campaign for safer driving in Switzerland

World No. 17 Stanislas Wawrinka launched a campaign of Tuesday for safer streets in his home city of Vaud, Switzerland. The slogans on 1,700 posters across the region read, “The street is not my circuit” and “200 km/h only at serve!” Wawrinka, who is working in conjunction with regional police and Touring Club Switzerland, wants to encourage people to drive safely, respect the rules and use their seat belts.

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About Justin Cohen
Justin Cohen is a graduate of Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Specialization in Journalism and was a member of the varsity tennis team, where he and his teammates finished as the runner-up at the 2006 NCAA Division II Men’s Tennis Championships. Justin began writing his weekly column, “This Week in Tennis Business with Justin Cohen” in July 2009. The following month, he covered the ATP/WTA Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio interviewing most of the top ranked players in the world. A lifelong tennis enthusiast who has enjoyed traveling to many professional tennis tournaments, Justin has much experience in the tennis industry. Previously, he worked at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in Princeton, New Jersey, and also completed summer internships in ticket sales at the ATP/WTA Tour Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati and in marketing at the Tennis Channel in Los Angeles.

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