Tennis politics, it seems, is as fickle as that in the real world.
I appreciate your support David Haggerty
Apparently against the odds, David Haggerty was re-elected as President of the ITF on Friday at the governing body’s AGM in Lisbon in a resounding first-ballot victory, netting 259 (60.5%) of the vote, well clear of his nearest rival, India’s Anil Khanna, who scored 93 (21.7%).
Ireland’s Dave Miley, who has been a vocal critic of Haggerty’s tenure, managed to get just 46 votes (10.8%) and finished in third position, while the Czech Republic’s Ivo Kaderka came last with only 30 (7%) support.
Haggerty, who has headed up the organisation since 2015, was well clear of the required minimum 50% under ITF rules.
The voting procedure was conducted by the Election Panel, a sub-group of the independent Ethics Commission, and independent auditors, but the details of which countries voted for or against Haggerty remain anonymous, although both the UK and America, with 12 votes each, confirmed their support of the incumbent.
“I appreciate your support,” Haggerty said following the results. “I would also like to congratulate Anil, Ivo and David for their hard work in the election.
“Thank you very much.”
Among the tasks facing Haggerty in his second term, which runs until 2023, is reform of the Fed Cup.
Haggerty oversaw drastic changes to the historic but ailing Davis Cup in his first term, with the ITF assembly agreeing last year on a 25-year deal for the men’s team competition, financed and organised by Kosmos, the agency run by Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué.
The revamped Davis Cup arrives in November with 18 nations playing over 7 days in Madrid, to end the 2019 season.
It faces competition from younger team events, including the Laver Cup co-owned by Roger Federer and played in September since 2017, and the revived ATP Cup, which launches in Australia in January.
Similar changes are set to be made to the Fed Cup next year but, unlike the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup changes will be made without an official ITF vote taking place.
There has also been controversy with the implementation of the ITF Transition Tour, which prompted a petition to be launched by players after many complained that they were worse off than before.
The tour saw the introduction of a separate ranking system and a reduction in the number of places for qualifying events, both of which have since been scrapped.
In his 2019 manifesto, Haggerty pledged to review the governance of the ITF, an issue that was also raised by one of his backers, the LTA.
“We are deeply concerned about the governance of the sport, the role of the ITF in that, and a number of recent decisions.” The LTA said in a statement.
“The LTA Board had lengthy discussions about the forthcoming ITF Presidential vote and we do not believe that now is the right time for a radical change in regime.
“We will, however be holding whichever candidate becomes President of the ITF to account on a number of areas.”
The support from the British contingent is one that some find baffling given the fact they have voiced concerns about the governance of the ITF, yet still backed its leader.
They were also one of the most notable tennis bodies to not back changes to the Davis Cup in the key ITF vote last year.
Haggerty has also pledged to increase worldwide development funding by 50% per year, raising the amount from $12 million to $18 million.
New revenue was one of Haggerty’s major arguments for re-election, and Friday’s vote will be seen as affirmation of the new Davis Cup and Fed Cup before they have even been contested.
The status quo maintained, however, many will be looking to Haggerty to find some form of compromise to bring the governing bodies of pro tennis, the ATP, WTA and Grand Slams, more closely together, especially over the competing men’s team competitions running just 6 weeks apart.