As the ATP continues its recruitment process for a new CEO, we at TenniShorts.com have been given exclusive access to the intricacies of the process, Alix Ramsay writes. Leaked documents, including this transcript from one candidate’s interview, give a unique insight into the complex and on-going efforts to find a new boss for the men’s tour.
“Oh, hello… I’m not sure if I’m the right place. Is this the job interview? It is? Ah, good. I’ve come from the Job Centre, you see. They sent me down here as part of David Cameron’s Earn or Learn initiative. Well, I’ve never really done much of either so here I am. Now, here’s my paperwork: as you can see, I’m Marlon Butterthwaite and originally I’m from Giggleswick but these days I reside in Chigwell.
They didn’t tell me much about the vacancy at the Job Centre – I’m assuming it is a position with perks as I was hoping for something along the lines of a staff canteen. I’m not too fussed about a company vehicle as I had one of those once. Exclusive use of the works’ wheels at weekends, they said. Trouble was I was working as a delivery operative for the Co-Op and I discovered to my cost that girls are seldom impressed by a milk float. Not on a Saturday night, at any rate. They can be very picky, can girls.
You don’t have a staff canteen? I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Let me make a note: “Will have to bring sandwiches…”
Now then, they said at the Centre that the name of your company was “80p” and, I must say, it didn’t sound very adventurous. Not unless you’re trying to undercut the Pound Shop, that is. Just my little joke.
Oh, “ATP”. Ah. What does that mean, then? Association of Tennis Professionals. Mmm. Tennis. I was never much good at games at school. Never got picked for anything. Even when we had a kick-about at playtime, I ended up as a goalpost. But I’m keen to learn.
So what do you do, then, as the ATP? Oh, you represent the players, do you? That’s nice. And you represent them in what way? You try and get them the best deal in terms of prize money, competition structure, working environment, scheduling and the tournament calendar, amongst other things. And who do you go to to get that sorted out, then? You go to the tournaments. Right. And who represents the tournaments? You do. Ah, I see. I think.
Right then, what are the biggest problems you face in sorting it all out? Well, I can see that the players would want to play less and earn more – who wouldn’t? – but if the tournaments want them to play more so that they can stay in business, how do you resolve the issue? Oh, I get it: you don’t resolve it; you just keep talking about it incessantly while the exhausted and over-worked players fill their vacation time with highly paid exhibition appearances. That way nothing gets done and we all stay in a job. That sounds simple enough. I’m sure I could manage that. If no one has fixed it in all these years, I don’t see that I could upset the apple cart and come up with a solution. No, that all sounds very workable from my side.
Now then, do you run all of tennis? You don’t. Do you run Wimbledon? Because I’d like to go to Wimbledon. I’ve seen it on the telly. Who runs Wimbledon? Wimbledon runs Wimbledon. How does that work, then? Wimbledon is part of the Grand Slam Committee. And who runs the Grand Slam Committee? The grand slams run the Grand Slam Committee. That’ll learn you, Butterthwaite: ask a silly question and you know what’ll happen. But you do negotiate with the grand slams to get the best deal for you players, more prize money and the like. And do you get what you want? No. Oh.
And do you run the ladies? You know, women’s tennis? Because I’d like to run that Maria Sharapova, if you get my drift. Although I don’t think I’d get very far with a milk float.
You don’t run women’s tennis. Who does? The Women’s Tennis Association. And what do they do? The same as you only they do it for the girls. So you fight your ground and they fight theirs? They don’t? How come? What do you mean equal prize money? Oh, I see: you do all the fighting for them, they stand at the sides holding the coats and they walk off with the winner and a bigger pay cheque. That’s typical of girls: fussy about transport and invariably fickle. Well, at least in this job, I wouldn’t have to worry about them.
There is one thing that worries me (because I do like to keep abreast of current events): I’ve read a lot about performance enhancing substances that some athletes have been known to take. I mean, that Lance Armstrong – he was a one, wasn’t he? Then again, if you spend more than a month pedalling around France on one of those tiny little saddles, you’d want to take something. The chafing must be awful. Anyway, what do you do about drugs at the ATP? You do nothing – that’s the ITF’s job. And who might they be? Oh, I should have known: the International Tennis Federation.
So, then: one of your players tests positive following a test done under the auspices of the ITF and following the protocols set out by WADA – that’d be the World Anti-Doping Agency – and then when he gets busted, he goes to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, to get his sentence reduced. And the same goes for the girls. But why don’t you just cut out the middle man and have the player pee in a pot and take it straight to CAS to see what they think? Well, it was just a thought and, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t like your tone. I’ll not be spoken to like that.
Now, if I’ve got this right, you’ve got the ATP, the WTA, the ITF, WADA and CAS all trying to run this drugs thing. It sounds like a bad hand at Scrabble, that. Although, if you give me a moment…. yes, if you rearrange ITFWADAATPWTACAS you get “Await daft cat’s paw”. That just about sums the whole thing up.
No, I think you’re wasting my time. I’ll not be coming back. There’s a nice little vacancy at the biscuit factory down our way and they’ve got a staff canteen. My mate says they do a lovely hotpot on a Thursday. I’ll be on my way; good day to you.”