TO: All Men’s Professional Tennis Players
FROM: The International Men’s Tennis Association (“IMTA”)
RE: Current Status and Upcoming Meetings at the 2005 NASDAQ-100 OPEN
In Key Biscayne (Miami) Florida
Monday, March 21, 2005 at 3 p.m. (On-Site at the Tournament)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 3 p.m. (On-Site at the Tournament)
The International Men’s Tennis Association (“IMTA”) was formed in 2003 and has been
operating since that time. For the past eight months, the IMTA has conducted discussions with
players, agents, management companies, the Grand Slam tournaments, ATP tournament
directors, and others about the design of the IMTA to be a true players association. Those
discussions have been overwhelmingly positive.
IMTA meetings with all players have been scheduled to be held during the NASDAQ
100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. To permit as many players as possible to attend, express
their views, and discuss the issues facing tennis with their fellow players, IMTA meetings have
been scheduled on-site at the tournament on two consecutive days, Monday, March 21st and
Tuesday, March 22nd – at 3 p.m. each day. It is extremely important that all players attend these
meetings, as the success of the IMTA, like any true players association, depends on the
maximum possible participation of all players. If you want additional information about the
IMTA, you can get it at www.IMTATennis.com.
WHEN: Monday, March 21, 2005 at 3 p.m. AND
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: On-site at the NASDAQ 100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida
WHAT: Meetings of the IMTA with all men’s professional tennis players and their agents
SUBJECT: To formalize the IMTA’s authorization to get to work to work with others to solve
many of the problems facing men’s professional tennis players and the sport of
men’s professional tennis
CONTACT FOR INFORMATION: Henri-James Tieleman (202) 256-5034 (mobile)
Mark Levinstein (202) 434-5012 (office)
Meetings at the 2005 NASDAQ-100 OPEN In Key Biscayne (Miami) Florida
Monday, March 21, 2005 at 3 p.m. (On-Site at the Tournament)
Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 3 p.m. (On-Site at the Tournament)
The International Men’s Tennis Association (“IMTA”) was formed in 2003 as the result
of intense frustration and dissatisfaction among the top men’s professional tennis players in the
world. As discussed in the IMTA’s first newsletter and articles which appear at the IMTA’s
website, www.imtatennis.com, the ATP Tour attempted to block the launch of the IMTA.
When its direct campaign against the IMTA failed, the ATP Tour tried to deflect attention away
from the ATP Tour’s fundamental failings through a misguided attack on the Grand Slam
tournaments. The ATP Tour misled players into supporting its crusade against the Grand Slams,
a battle the players could not win. The ATP Tour’s efforts did not benefit players, and further
damaged the sport. All the ATP Tour accomplished was to delay the movement to launch the
IMTA as a true players association for all players, and to increase player support for the IMTA.
For the past eight months, the IMTA has conducted discussions with players, agents,
management companies, the Grand Slam tournaments, ATP tournament directors, and others
about the design of the IMTA to be a true players association. Those discussions have been
overwhelmingly positive. The IMTA will give the players a unified voice in the business of
men’s professional tennis, and will facilitate discussions between and among the players as a
group and the Grand Slam tournaments, the International Tennis Federation, ATP tournaments,
sponsors, television companies, and others involved in the business of men’s professional tennis.
Many have expressed the view that men’s professional tennis is at a critical point in time. There
are ongoing discussions about possible major changes in the business of tennis and in the game
itself. It is essential that the players be directly involved in those discussions.
Therefore, the IMTA has scheduled meetings of all players to be held during the
NASDAQ 100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida. To permit as many players as possible to attend,
express their views, and discuss the issues facing tennis with their fellow players, IMTA
meetings have been scheduled on-site at the tournament on two consecutive days, Monday,
March 21st and Tuesday, March 22nd – at 3 p.m. each day. It is extremely important that all
players attend these meetings, as the success of the IMTA, like any true players association,
depends on the maximum possible participation of all players.
The IMTA was formed in 2003 and immediately gained tremendous player support. In
response to the intense player dissatisfaction and the players’ plans to move ahead with a players
association, the ATP Tour responded. The ATP Tour did not respond by remedying problems
that concerned the players. Instead, the ATP Tour launched a campaign to attack the IMTA and
to undermine the players’ support of the IMTA. ATP Tour employees were directed to contact
players, to advise them not to support the IMTA and to threaten them with adverse consequences
if players formed a players association. Player support for a players association was so strong
that the ATP Tour’s efforts were largely unsuccessful.
As a back-up plan, the ATP Tour attempted to upstage the IMTA by bringing players
together with the promise of great financial benefits. The ATP Tour attempted to prove it does
in fact represent players, not by increasing or improving its services to players or by meeting
with players to find out their concerns and ideas, but by promising players that the ATP Tour
would force the Grand Slam tournaments to increase their payments to players by $58 million
per year. While the ATP Tour was pursuing that misguided course of action, the IMTA
leadership recognized that it was important that the IMTA not do anything to interfere, even
though the IMTA leadership believed the ATP Tour’s conduct was ill-advised and doomed to
In fact, not only was the ATP Tour’s plan a mistake, over time it became clear that the
ATP Tour had misled the players about essential facts concerning the ATP Tour’s initiative.
First, the ATP Tour never disclosed to players that it had entered into a secret agreement with the
Grand Slam tournaments in which the ATP Tour agreed not to interfere in any way with the
Grand Slam tournaments’ unilateral decisions about what they would pay players as tournament
prize money. Second, the ATP Tour never disclosed to players that the ATP Tour $58 million
proposal would have required the more successful Grand Slam tournaments to pay the other
Grand Slam tournaments in order for them to have the funds necessary to increase their prize
money to the levels proposed by the ATP Tour. Players supported the ATP Tour without
knowing that they had been used as part of the ATP Tour’s plan to derail the players’ efforts to
form a true players association.
In the summer of 2004, the ATP Tour finally announced (very quietly – so you may have
missed it) that it had abandoned its assault on the Grand Slams, without having achieved
anything. The ATP Tour had wasted tens of thousands of dollars and had generated substantial
negative publicity for the sport and had accomplished nothing. The ATP Tour apparently
believed its primary objective for its attack on the Grand Slams had been achieved – the IMTA
appeared to have been put out of business.
However, as explained above, the IMTA was only waiting patiently. As soon as the
players were no longer distracted by the ATP Tour’s subterfuge, the IMTA resumed operations.
For the past eight months, IMTA personnel have been meeting with players, coaches,
tournament directors, agents, management companies, the Grand Slam tournaments, and others
involved in the business of men’s professional tennis. The response has been overwhelmingly
positive. Players, agents, management companies, the Grand Slam tournaments, and other
tournament directors have all recognized the terrible void in the sport. They have all expressed
concern that there is no organization in tennis that permits real communication with players and
no organization that can speak for the players.
WHAT CONCERNS HAVE BEEN EXPRESSED BY PLAYERS?
The International Men’s Tennis Association was formed in the spring of 2003 because of
total dissatisfaction among professional tennis players. The first step for the IMTA was to
identify the concerns of the players and to identify the reasons those concerns are not being
addressed. Just a few of many, in no particular order, are as follows:
Players were concerned and are now even more concerned that they are not
involved in or even consulted about decisions about the business of their own
sport. Players are aware that there have been many discussions about new
initiatives – including the launch of regional tours like the US Open Series,
changes in the structure of the ATP Tour, and changes in the calendar – and those
discussions are ongoing without any player representation or involvement.
Players have not been given access to essential information about the revenues,
expenses, agreements, and pension plan of an organization in which they are
allegedly members, ATP Tour, Inc.
Players have seen tennis stagnate financially and decline dramatically in many
countries, and the sport, with its current structure, has been completely unable to
respond. As one leading sportswriter put it, “Tennis is deader than it has ever
Tennis participation has declined (and continues to decline) in many countries.
Many tournaments that had thrived and prospered for decades have shut down and
gone out of business and others say they are losing money and may be on the
verge of going out of business.
Many ATP Tournaments claim that they are struggling and in some cases failing
financially and the ATP Tour has been unwilling or unable to do anything to help
them solve their problems.
The ATP Tour eliminated its “bonus pool” payments to players and nothing was
initiated to replace it.
ATP Tour Prize money has not increased in at least five years and many
tournaments were clamoring to reduce, not increase, their payments to players.
A series of bad decisions, strategic errors and mismanagement has left the ATP
Tour with huge overhead and inadequate revenues.
While other sports are marketing their players, forging a connection between the
fans and the athletes in those sports, generating fan interest in golf, basketball,
football, and baseball because the fans had substantial awareness of the top
athletes in those sports, tennis in general and the ATP Tour in particular have
demonstrated an inability to generate that interest in tennis.
The ATP Tour has said there are too many tournaments and has even forced
tournaments to contribute millions of dollars to a fund established for purchasing
and shutting-down tournaments. At the same time, the ATP has added
tournaments in a number of cases simply because the tournament organizer was
willing to write a large enough check to the ATP Tour.
The ATP Tour and its tournaments propose and implement a wide range of
negative rules that are not designed to grow the sport, but are designed to force
top players to play more events, punish players who miss tournaments, reduce the
role of doubles, and coerce singles players to play doubles.
While tennis struggles and declines, no effort has been made to involve the
players, the primary asset of any sport, in finding solutions.
The tournaments complain that doubles matches do not generate revenue and
doubles matches and doubles players cost too much and they want to reduce or
eliminate doubles competitions, but the ATP Tour has not done anything to
identify ways to increase the value of doubles and to increase the amount of
revenue generated by doubles matches and doubles players.
The “player representatives” are not able to represent the players effectively.
Players elect player council members who in turn elect three members of a six-
member Board of ATP Tour, Inc., which selects an ATP Tour Chief Executive
Officer (“CEO”). Once elected, the three “player representative Board members”
are paid by the ATP Tour and do not answer directly to the players. Many
members of the ATP Tour Board have conflicts of interest and undisclosed
agreements that yield a lack of confidence in the ATP Tour. It has been alleged
that Board members are often able to secure personal benefits for themselves or
the tournaments they operate.
The sport lacks accountability – players, as members of the ATP Tour, Inc.,
cannot hold the CEO or the ATP Tour accountable because the players are not
informed about many of the decisions being made. Decisions are sometimes
made by the Board, some decisions are made by the CEO, and other decisions are
made as a result of agreements between the CEO and third parties (e.g., the ITF,
the Grand Slam committee, individual tournaments, etc.) The players are
sometimes told what decisions have been made only after new rules and
regulations have been issued, in many cases with the decision and the change
having been made before the players as a group even knew there was an issue or
that a new rule was being considered. In other cases, decisions are made as a
result of secret agreements between the CEO and third parties and the players do
not even know there was an agreement. When the players find out about the
agreements, and ask to see a copy, the CEO may tell them that the agreement is
“confidential” or even deny that such an agreement exists. There are even cases
in which players meet, consider proposals, discuss and debate the proposals and
make a decision what proposal they will support, and later learn that a completely
different decision was made without their even having been consulted.
The players are aware that there are fundamental problems in their sport. Players are also
aware that the leadership of their sport has not shown any interest in involving them in finding a
solution. Players are required to attend an annual meeting of the ATP Tour, Inc. Players do not
attend because the meeting is worthwhile, but because they will be fined and forced to pay the
ATP Tour, Inc. or have some of their prize money withheld if they fail to attend. In the
mandatory meeting they do not consider and vote upon proposals. In that meeting, players do
not have a right to review the performance of and decide whether to retain the CEO. The
purpose of the meeting is not to get the views of the players or to have them discuss issues and
make decisions about what they believe would be best for the sport of tennis. No, it appears to
players that the meeting is for the CEO to tell them what he has been doing and what decisions
he has made in the past year, to explain why the sport’s situation and prospects have not
improved, and to give them his views on the state of their sport. Then, the CEO takes questions
(often hostile questions) from tennis players and gives answers that often do not respond to what
is being asked or only provide a surface answer that does not provide the information the
question was seeking.
Is it surprising, therefore, that players do not feel that the ATP Tour is a players
association or that the ATP Tour “represents them” or “speaks for them”? Given all of these
problems and no plan to solve them, is it surprising that the players, their agents, the Grand Slam
Committee, and the ATP tournaments have no expectation that there will be significant
improvements in the business of tennis in the foreseeable future?
WHAT WILL A TENNIS PLAYERS ASSOCIATION DO AND HOW WILL IT BE
DIFFERENT THAN THE PRESENT SITUATION?
When ATP Tour, Inc. was created in 1989, players were promised that it would be a
players association and that players would have a meaningful role in decisions about their sport.
Unlike Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), the National
Football League (“NFL”), the English Premier League of soccer, many other soccer leagues in
Europe, and other professional sports leagues and circuits of sports events, for the past sixteen
years there has not been a players association in professional tennis.
In other sports, proposals are made to players, they consider the proposals, they negotiate
about their terms with the businesses involved in the sport (the team owners or the event
producers), and the proposals are only implemented after the players AGREE to them.
Similarly, players meet, develop proposals that will advance interests of importance to the
players, present those proposals to others in the sport, consider the responses and
counterproposals from those businesses, and again reach agreement. After the players have
AGREED, those proposals are implemented and change the sport.
Not surprisingly, players are disillusioned with the situation in tennis. It is entirely
understandable that they do not want to attend ATP Tour meetings when it is clear that the
players’ views will not be sought and they cannot help anyone or improve their sport by
participating in those meetings. It was those concerns and the situation that created those
concerns that caused several players to form the IMTA in 2003 and that led over 70 of the top
players in the sport to sign documents indicating their support of and interest in membership in
It is difficult to communicate just how different a players association is from what players
in tennis have now. The following are just a few of the differences.
The players association would be owned and controlled entirely by the players.
Everyone who works for or represents the players association will report to, be
accountable to, and be hired and fired by the players. Put simply, the players
association personnel will work for and report to the players – not the other way
around. If someone is working for the players association and the players do not
believe he or she is doing a good job or they believe he or she has done something
improper, that person can be terminated at any time by the players. The people
running the players association will report regularly to the players concerning
objectives, programs, financial issues, and all the revenues and expenses of the
players association – what revenues have been generated and how have those
revenues been spent?
The purpose of the players association will be to promote and advance the interests of
The people who work for the players association will not have undisclosed conflicts
of interest – they will not work for a tournament, they will not be an agent for
individual players, they will not be a coach seeking to train players, they will not be
someone looking to curry favor with tournaments to be hired as a tournament director
or an employee of a tour. They will be people only focused on representing the
interests of all of the players.
The players association will not be tied financially to the ATP Tour. It will discuss
the business of tennis with everyone involved in tennis and will identify opportunities
for players to work with all of the organizations and businesses in tennis to advance
the sport and the players’ interests.
The players association will not be permitted to enter into deals that will be secret
from the players in the players association. The dealings and activities of the players
association will be transparent – which means that the finances of the organization, its
bylaws, its agreements, and all other significant issues relating to the players
association and its operations will be fully disclosed to the players. You will not hear
a player ask a question at a players association meeting and have the players
association personnel respond by avoiding or refusing to answer the question.
Players association personnel will give full and complete answers to the players’
The players association will not compel attendance at meetings by fines. The players
association will generate attendance through meetings that are worthwhile, at which
information and proposals concerning the future of tennis will be shared and the
players will be called upon to express their views and make decisions. Players will
participate because it is their opportunity to learn what is happening, what proposals
are being considered, and what programs the players association is initiating. The
meetings will be the players’ opportunity to be informed about and involved in the
operation of their sport.
The players association will meet with the Grand Slam committee, ATP tournament
directors, the ITF, individual national tennis federations, and others involved in the
sport of tennis to discuss ideas and programs to promote players, increase
opportunities and involvement of players, and improve the financial prospects for the
sport. Once ideas, programs, and initiatives have been proposed, the players
association will take them back to the players for suggestions, improvements, and
approval or rejection.
The players association will attempt to identify as many ways as possible to benefit
and support players – not limited to issues related to the players’ participation in the
The IMTA is ready to get to work. However, it cannot succeed without player support.
It is essential for players to authorize the IMTA to start to work on behalf of the players – not to
agree to anything yet, not to authorize the use of player names, photographs, or likenesses, not to
enter into any agreements on behalf of the players. Instead, the IMTA wants to start working on
two fronts. The IMTA will be meeting with players to gain a better understanding of players’
ideas, concerns, and objectives. At the same time, the IMTA seeks player authorization to meet
with others involved in the business of tennis in order to generate ideas, proposals, programs, and
initiatives consistent with the players’ ideas, concerns, and objectives. The IMTA will then
report back to the players in an effort to generate a consensus among the players as to which
proposals, ideas, programs, and initiatives should be pursued and on what terms.
There is tremendous opportunity for players and for the sport. It is a critical time and
requires decisive action by the players. We ask you all to attend the meetings at the NASDAQ
100-Open to discuss these issues and to express your views. As the dates of the March meetings
approach, the IMTA will provide all players with additional information about the meetings.