In a special on court ceremony today at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo, the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) honored Mr. Masaaki Morita by presentation of the 2017 Golden Achievement Award. The award is a salute to his dedicated service to tennis and in particular, for his work to grow the sport in Japan.
The Golden Achievement Award was presented by David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation and by Hall of Famer Michael Chang, representing the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Japanese tennis superstar and current world No. 5 Kei Nishikori, who came up in the sport through Mr. Morita’s tennis development efforts and is now coached by Chang, also took part in the special presentation, as did Mr. Nobuo Kuroyanagi, president of the Japan Tennis Association.
The Golden Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion, or education, and who has devoted long and outstanding service to the sport.
“Mr. Morita has been a significant driving force behind growing tennis in Japan. As a result of his commitment, Japan has produced talented athletes who can compete at the sport’s highest levels and tennis has grown immensely in popularity in Japan,” said Haggerty. “We are all grateful for his vision and commitment to tennis, and it is a great honor to recognize his contributions to the sport at the Japan Open, an incredible event that he helped build.”
International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin commented, “Mr. Morita had a clear vision for the potential growth of tennis in Asia, specifically Japan, and he has shown immense commitment to seeing this through to fruition. His efforts have shaped the history of our sport, generating great champions, namely Kei Nishikori, with more to come undoubtedly. Tennis as a whole is better as a result of his commitment to it, and we are very pleased to partner with the ITF in recognizing his positive impact on the sport.”
Morita, a former executive at Sony and the younger brother of company founder Akio Morita, has been a leader in the development of Japanese tennis for many years. He served as the president of the Japanese Tennis Association for more than a decade, starting in 2000, and was named an Honorary President in 2012.
Morita has made a tremendous impact on the sport in player development. Through the Masaaki Morita Tennis Fund, he has invested millions of dollars in funding for Japanese players to train at IMG Academy, with the intent of producing tennis superstars on the ATP World Tour and the WTA Tour. Japanese athletes have grown immensely through the program, most notably, Kei Nishikori, who won the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, reached the US Open final in 2014, and has been ranked as high as world No. 4. Nishikori has won 11 titles on the ATP World Tour, including two at the Japan Open.
The Golden Achievement Award is selected from a pool of nominations submitted by tennis federations and individuals from the around the world. The annual honoree is selected by the Golden Achievement Award Committee, which is comprised of tennis administrators.
The Golden Achievement Award, first instituted in 1999, has honored 17 outstanding contributors from nine different countries including Japan’s Eiichi Kawatei who was presented with the award in 2005. Past recipients of the Golden Achievement Award are Vittorio Selmi of Italy (2016); Mark Stenning of the United States (2015); David Jude of Great Britain (2014); Geoff Pollard of Australia (2013); Shamil Tarpischev of Russia (2012); Tim Phillips of the United Kingdom (2011); Heinz Grimm of Switzerland (2010); Peachy Kellmeyer of the United States (2009); Juan Maria Tintore of Spain (2008); Nancy P. Jeffett of the United States (2007); James R. Cochrane of Great Britain (2006); Eiichi Kawatei of Japan (2005); John Curry of Great Britain (2004); J. Howard "Bumpy" Frazer of the United States (2003); Enrique Morea of Argentina (2002); Pablo Llorens Renaga of Spain (2001); Gil de Kermadec of France (2000) and Brian Tobin of Australia (1999).