Minor league players start United Tennis union to oppose ITF changes

Minor league players start United Tennis union to oppose ITF changes

The union has a five-person board, and chose Switzerland for its official registration.

Some ITF-level players have taken steps to form a union following controversial changes to the lower levels of the game.

Going by the name United Tennis, the fledgling initiative aims to oppose the reduction in tournament draws and ranking changes instituted by the ITF, ATP, and WTA Tours, and also plans to organize for better conditions for lower-ranked players.

The union has a five-person board, and chose Switzerland for its official registration.

"Finally when we set a milestone in tennis history and the first international non-profit organisation to support professional tennis players on ITF level got legally registered," said an announcement on social media.

It follows a petition against the ITF changes which received around 14,000 signatures and a letter sent by more than 600 players protesting the new structure, which has left players frequently sitting on the sidelines because they cannot enter events.

"We founded United Tennis because we believe the players need to be protected at all levels of the professional game," Maria Patrascu, a board member who started the petition, told Metro UK. 

Some adjustments to ITF tournaments had already been announced, such as larger qualifying draws and an increase in the amount of rounds awarding ATP points, but players and coaches have said more changes are required.

The ITF has said the goal is to reduce the amount of players competing while improving earnings and providing a better transition to the ATP and WTA Tours.

Prior to the changes, more than 14,000 players competed in men's and women's events on the ITF tour.