In today's Annual General Meeting of the International Tennis Federation in Zagreb, Croatia, it was announced that the International Tennis Hall of Fame has committed to making a significant annual financial contribution to the Development Program.
The program is jointly funded by ITF, Grand Slam Development Fund, and now, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and it is focused on the concept that the leading tennis industry organizations collaborate to develop competitive tennis opportunities worldwide, particularly for juniors in developing nations.
In addition to the financial contribution, an additional component of the Hall of Fame and ITF's growing partnership is that the Hall of Fame will present an annual award at future ITF Annual General Meetings. The award will recognize an organization with a track record of distinguished service to the growth of tennis. The inaugural award will be presented in 2017.
"We welcome the Hall of Fame's initiative in taking part in the efforts to ensure the future of our sport. We share common values - both the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the ITF are committed to fostering the growth, development, and preservation of the global sport of tennis, and this new partnership highlights these efforts for us both. The Development Program is a tremendously important program, and in working with the allied partners in tennis, we look forward to seeing it, and our sport, flourish," said ITF President David Haggerty.
International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin commented, "The International Tennis Hall of Fame's mission is to preserve, promote, and celebrate tennis history. We see evidence every day that today's tennis champions are inspired by those who have come before them in the sport. This is a guiding principle in the mission of the Hall of Fame. Through celebrating our sport's great history, we are working to inspire its future - its fans, recreational players, and future Hall of Famers. As an organization, we are both excited and committed to partnering with the Development Program. Like the ITF and the Slams, we envision a bright future for our sport and investing in the development program is an important step in the Hall of Fame being an active partner in the collective effort to build that future."
He continued, "Additionally, as is evidenced by the Hall of Famers who have been inducted for their great contributions to tennis, the Hall of Fame is acutely aware that the success of our sport is a direct result of the dedication of many individuals and organizations. In partnering with the ITF, we look forward to the opportunity to appropriately acknowledge these organizations through this new award to be presented at future ITF Annual General Meetings."
The award criteria and process will be detailed at a future date, and the selection process will be a joint effort of ITF and the Hall of Fame.
Haggerty noted, "Throughout the ITF Conference and Annual General Meeting this week, we have placed significant emphasis on the need to work more collaboratively among the major organizations in tennis. The Hall of Fame leadership also believes strongly in this concept and this new partnership is a terrific example of how the industry organizations can find creative ways to work together for the betterment of our sport."
ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Development Program is jointly funded by the ITF and the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF). The GSDF was established in 1986 with an initial donation of £100,000 by the Championships at Wimbledon. Over the years and in partnership with the ITF, the program has provided nearly $100 million in funding to grow the sport worldwide.
Funding is allocated to varied important efforts, namely, the establishment of both junior and professional tournament circuits and assisting players directly by creating playing opportunities through touring teams and providing travel grants. The ultimate goal of these programs is to offer players the chance to gain international competitive experience so that more nations and players will be represented in the mainstream of international competition.
Additional Development Program activities include facility grants, coach education, 10 and Under Tennis programs and the provision of equipment.
The Program is facilitated by a team of ten Development Officers who are stationed strategically throughout the world. Funds are allocated worldwide, with heavy emphasis on developing nations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Caribbean, as well as support to Eastern Europe and South America.
A number of current and former players who have gone on to great success have received assistance from the ITF/GSDF including: Hall of Famer Gustavo Kuerten (BRA), Zhang Shuai (CHN), Simona Halep (ROU), Thomaz Bellucci (BRA), Grigor Dimitrov (BUL), Li Na (CHN), Nicolas Massu (CHI), Nicolas Lapentti (ECU), Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi (IND), Eleni Daniilidou (GRE), Paradorn Srichaphan (THA), Cara Black (ZIM), Jarkko Nieminen (FIN), Marcos Baghdatis (CYP), Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR), Victoria Azarenka (BLR), and Ricardas Berankis (LTU).
For additional information about the program, visit www.itftennis.com/development.
Photos courtesy of ITF.