LONDON – Just a few days away before Wimbledon, the members of the ATP Tour Player Council have resolved – at least for the time being – the political issue of the vacant player representative spot on the ATP Tour board of directors.
But in a few months, they will have to revisit the entire process.
The council met Friday evening, following a general players’ meeting at the All-England Club.
And high on the agenda was a final determination on who its third player representative on the six-person ATP Tour board of directors would be. Longtime board member Justin Gimelstob stepped down last month, more than six months before his term officially expired.
At a Player Council meeting in Rome in May when the original first cut of finalists presented their cases, two candidates were tied in the end. But the council was deadlocked at 5-5 on whether to choose Weller Evans or Nicolas Lapentti.
And so the “non-decision” was put over to tonight’s meeting, as Evans and Nicolas Lapentti made final presentations Friday.
Evans, a longtime ATP Tour executive, has long been considered the front runner even if the Player Council couldn’t get to a majority. Lapentti, the multilingual businessman, former top-10 player, and former Ecuador Davis Cup captain and federation president undoubtedly would be the younger, more international choice.
He also is believed to favor Kermode as ATP CEO. And that appears to have complicated his cause considerably.
Deadlock a common theme
That’s when things got interesting.
A reliable source tells Tennis.Life that the 10-member council remained deadlocked at 5-5 – just as in Rome.
The deadlock has been a recurring theme with Player Council decisions of late.
At the Australian Open last January, the council could not come to a majority vote on whether it believed outgoing ATP Tour CEO Chris Kermode should be renewed for another three-year term on the job.
And, just as with the Kermode case, the deadlock meant this decision had to be turned over to the council’s board representatives to make the final call.
Except … this time, unlike in the Kermode case, there are not three board members, but only two as the decision is about that vacant third spot.
Gimelstob, who had represented the Player Council on the ATP board for more than a decade, stood down before his term was to be up at the end of the year amid all of the publicity engendered by the assault accusations and the plea deal the 42-year-old American accepted in a Los Angeles court in late April.
Hence the vacancy.
Tennis.Life understands that only one of the two board representatives expressed support for Evans. In the end, a sort of compromise was reached in that Evans was selected to complete Gimelstob’s term.
So yes, after all this, the decision literally came down to one man’s vote.
Here’s the confirmation from the ATP about what we reported earlier this evening.
Americas Player Representative ATP Board Update pic.twitter.com/EGCUmuD8om
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) June 28, 2019
First to react – in the negative – is Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
— diego schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) June 28, 2019
You would assume that the process would begin again for the three-year term that begins in 2020. But that also got a little complicated.
We were also reliable told Friday night that Robin Haase of the Netherlands – believed to be on the “pro-Kermode, non-Weller Evans” side of the 5-5 deadlock, resigned from the Player Council before the end of the meeting.
Haase, whose two-year term won’t expire until next year’s Wimbledon, was a representative of the players ranked 1-50 along with John Isner, Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson.
By our tennis calculations, that leaves the “anti-Kermode, pro-Weller Evans” faction with a slim 5-4 majority on the current council.
And it is the current council that will select a player to replace Haase on an interim basis.
So you could reasonably expect they will look for someone to bring it to 6-4, rather than repeat the “deadlock” experience for another year.
ATP political business might not be everyone’s cup of team. But it’s not dull, even if you’d think the players can’t wait to turn their attention to the reason they’re actually here in London in the first place.
Wimbledon begins Monday.