Thirty percent of the ATP Player Council's voting members, and the coach’s representative, have resigned from their voluntary positions following Friday's seven-hour plus meeting at Wimbledon that finished past midnight. The resignations come after former ATP executive Weller Evans was elected to fill the interim ATP Americas Player Representative vacancy.
Dutchman Robin Haase was first to announce his withdrawal. He tweeted, “It has been a privilege to represent my fellow players; however despite it being a time consuming effort, it has been an unproductive year. I do not feel I can represent the players in the way I should do. Moreover, I think that our representation is not at the right level to move tennis forward.”
Jamie Murray has resigned from the ATP player council. Robin Haase and Dani Vallverdu have also stepped down after last night's meeting at the All England Club.— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) June 29, 2019
Dani Vallverdu, the lone voice for coaches, and Jamie Murray, one of the two representatives in the doubles specialist category, were next to go. Sergiy Stakhovsky, a controversial replacement in January for Stefano Travaglia (who resigned), was the latest to announce his departure Saturday evening in London.
“In the light of recent events, I don’t believe my involvement in the player council is having any impact on the process of what the future will bring for our Tour or how it will be shaped,” Stakhovsky posted on Twitter. “The matters which will come to light in time completely discredit our structure and free will to perform our obligation and our duty to represent the players. It is very sad to see that personal gain and vendettas are at the heart of such a big disconnection in the player’s council.”
After deadlocking between Evans and Nicolas Lapentti in Rome six weeks earlier, the 10 voting players remained split on the issue on Friday. That left the decision to the other two player representatives, David Egdes and Alex Inglot, who selected Evans to serve out the remaining term, which ends December 31.
The council has been at odds since January, when in-fighting was first revealed publicly. Tensions grew at Indian Wells after current ATP president Chris Kermode was not renewed for another term following another deadlocked vote that left the final outcome in the hands of the then three board members: Egdes, Inglot and Justin Gimelstob. The 42-year-old Gimelstob resigned in May amid backlash for his no-contest plea to a misdemeanor assault charge, opening up a slot to fill.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the council’s president, addressed the situation in great length at his pre-tournament press conference Saturday.
“I think it's a system and a structure that keeps on failing us. I've been saying this before. We are all here as volunteers, as guys that are trying to do the role responsibly and also make sure that players are represented, different groups of players are represented.
“As president of the council, I can say that the last group that we have, or we had, is the most active one, the one that was dedicated the most, devoted the most. They wanted to make the difference, really cared about issues, constantly communicated between us as a group.
“Unfortunately the governing is structured in such a way that does not allow us to make any significant changes at our will. I've experienced that in the past when I was also not part of the council, when I was one of the 14 out of 15 players signing the document that had three points we requested from ATP management and our representatives to consider and follow up on; nothing was done.”
Djokovic, who hinted that his team wants him to step down, added one of his biggest frustrations in recent months has been the leaking of information behind closed doors.
“It violates the confidentiality of the group. If someone leaks an information and points out specifically one name or another for voting this way or that way, what's the point of being there and trying to be part of that system? Might as well have cameras and publicly broadcast everything that we talk about.”
If the Serbian didn’t have enough on his plate already, he will turn his attention to beginning his title defense when opening play on Centre Court Monday against Philipp Kohlschreiber.