MELBOURNE, Australia – The ATP Tour Player Council have voted on a majority against the continued leadership of tour CEO Chris Kermod, tennis.life has learned.
The vote took place as part of the annual players’ meeting held Saturday in Melbourne.
But we’re also told the 10-member council has put off making an official decision about its position.
Headed by president Novak Djokovic and vice-president Kevin Anderson, the council will postpone its definitive position until the Indian Wells tournament in March.
Kermode’s second term as head of the men’s tour ends at the conclusion of this season. He could be renewed for a third term by a vote of the ATP Tour board of directors.
The 54-year-old Brit was seen as a compromise candidate when he was appointed in Nov. 2013. The premature and tragic death of predecessor Brad Drewett the previous May led to the opportunity.
Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley was preferred by some. In recent years, he has expanded the reach of his country’s tennis influence well beyond the Grand Slam it hosts,
Will board reps follow players’ lead?
According to the Telegraph, the ATP Tour board is to vote on this before the end of the month. The six-man board is composed of three members representing the tournaments’ interests, and three representing the players’ interests.
In theory, the three player reps would follow the lead of the Player Council’s position.
But that doesn’t always happen. Player rep Roger Rasheed voted to accept the offering of prize-money increases between 4-6 per cent for 2019, against the players’ wishes. He was ousted from the board shortly afterward.
Rasheed was replaced – at least on interim, by former board rep David Egdes. Egdes is an executive with Tennis Channel. The other two player reps are Alex Inglot and Justin Gimelstob.
Gimelstob, who has pleaded “not guilty” to a charge of felony battery stemming from an incident on Halloween night, often has been at odds with Kermode. The two have markedly different philosophies, it seems.
The ATP Board voted last month not to remove Gimelstob from the board, in the wake of the charges. Neither Gimelstob nor Kermode cast a vote, per the New York Times.
Until this very serious business in his personal life, Gimelstob had been mentioned as an potential, eventual successor in the top job.
Early vote goes against Kermode
The Telegraph reported that Kermode needs (at least) two of the tournament reps and two of the player reps to vote in his favor, to renew his deal.
Nine of the 10 players voted at the players meeting. And tennis.life has been told by a well-connected tennis source that five voted against Kermode. Four voted in his favor. The 10th vote is believed to also be a vote against him, although others maintain it was a pro-Kermode vote, which would knot the tabulation a 5-5. Let’s call that one “unclear”.
If “no” proves to be the final position, it will set off some interesting machinations inside the Tour.
Several players have publicly come out in support of Kermode this week.
Those include Stan Wawrinka, as quoted in the Telegraph story.
Aussie Nick Kyrgios, in his pre-tournament press conference, also came out in support.
“I personally like Chris. I think the changes that tennis is having with ATP Cup and stuff, I think it’s going in the right direction. He’s trying to do the right thing. I really like him, so… ” Kyrgios said.
Pospisil urges player involvement
Canadian Vasek Pospisil, newly elected to the board last year, sent out an email destined for the players ranked 51-100, the demographic he was elected to represent.
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) January 11, 2019
It was a strongly-worded, impassioned plea for the players to get more involved, unified and informed – to get motivated to have more of a say about their own future.
Pospisil is believed to be among those who voted against keeping Kermode in his job, along with president Djokovic.
A year ago, at the very same players meeting in Melbourne, Djokovic led the charge for the players to demand a bigger share of the tennis pie.
All of this comes at a fascinating, crucial time in the tour’s history. The new ATP Cup is set to kick off in 2020. And it will be country-versus-country event that comes up almost in direct competition with the revamped Davis Cup format.
The announcement of the imminent retirement of former No. 1 Andy Murray. at age 31. is a bit of a wakep call. It’s a preview of what inevitably occur in the next few years.
The so-called “Big 3” of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic (in order of age from eldest to youngest) will hang up their rackets.
Their successor at the top level of the game – at least in terms of being marquee attractions – have yet to be determined. And so, the tennis landscape could look quite different in a few years.
Most importantly: do those who don’t want Kermode to continue in the job have a viable, qualified, available candidate in mind who would tick as many boxes and better defend their interests?
That’s a question still to be answered.
Is Changing The Person On Top Always The Answer, Or Is It More A Broken System? In My Experience U Can Change The Person In Charge As Often As U Want, If The System Isnt Changed, Nothing Is Changed… #JLTA🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/RQn8ENna3G
— Dustin Brown (@DreddyTennis) January 13, 2019