27 AUGUST 2014
Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster has said the organisation is exploring the introduction of a World Cup-style team tournament that could be launched as soon as 2017.
Allaster told the New York Times newspaper that the competition would be a week-long tournament featuring eight teams, staged annually in a single location. A wild-card team would be added at the discretion of the host nation while the other seven nations would be determined by the year-end singles rankings of their No.1 players.
Allaster said the idea for the new event, while still in the early stages, came out of extensive market research in the past year. “What the marketplace has told us – interested host cities, broadcasters and sponsors – is that if we were to do this they’d want it to be official,” Allaster added. “They’d want it be the best of the best and regular competitive tennis. So maybe we would have no-ad scoring and some all-star type elements, but what came away clear for us is that they wanted bona fide best-of-the-best competition if they were to invest millions of dollars.”
Any new tournament launched by the WTA would appear to be in direct competition with the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) Fed Cup. However, Allaster believes the two events can live in harmony. “I don’t think this will impact them,” she said. “We can do Fed Cup and this is possibly a new event we add.”
The ITF is currently conducting a strategic review of the Fed Cup and men’s counterpart the Davis Cup, with findings due at the end of the year. ITF executive director of professional tennis Kris Dent said the federation is unaware of the WTA’s proposal but would be broadly supportive of any event which would aid the growth of the sport.
Dent added: “Do I think this event will replicate and put Fed Cup out of business? No, I see it as complementary.”