ASB Classic tournament director Nicolas Lamperin admits the imminent arrival of the United Cup will have an impact on the two weeks of professional tennis in Auckland.
Although there has been no official word from Tennis Australia regarding a mixed 16-nation tournament, which will replace the ATP, it is common knowledge in tennis circles that an announcement is forthcoming.
The United Cup will come up against the ASB Classic women’s week, eliminating 16 players to come to Auckland.
Coco Gauff is already confirmed for January and Lamperin is on track to confirm all of its big stars for next year, but in the years to come, when the United Cup is more established, its impact on the Classic will increase.
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“It will involve a lot of players,” Lamperin told Stuff.
“But as we know, not all players like to play team events, or even mixed events and some will want to focus on individual tournaments, especially the first week. [of the season].
“It will give us challenges, but I’m sure we can find ways around it.”
Bringing back an upgraded version of the Hopman Cup, with ranking points available, ticks a number of boxes and is likely to be popular.
“It’s a very exciting new competition for the circuit and there was strong demand for a mixed event,” said Lamperin.
“From what I understand, the ATP Cup never really worked out financially, because it was launched just before Covid, which had a negative impact on the competition.
“I think it was very important for them to find a new format that worked and I think that’s exactly what they’re doing now.”
Lamperin returned from New York last week, where he had numerous meetings with agents and players about coming to Auckland. He was back in New Zealand when news of the United Cup broke and said there had been no discussion about it from agents.
“The mixed event has just been approved in New York by both boards, the ATP and the WTA,” he said.
“Most of the details are not finalized yet, in terms of the point structure and also the fees for the players.
“I have a feeling it’s going to take a few more weeks, so most players are pretty happy to commit to tournaments at this stage.”
Going forward, the ASB Classic may remain as it is and be further impacted by the United Cup as it becomes established.
Or Tennis Auckland and Tennis New Zealand could look to improve the tournament in the first week, to make it more appealing to top-ranked players.
Another option could be to embrace what is happening and seek to become one of the cities involved in the United Cup and drop the Women’s Classic.
Lamperin says he is about 85% complete with recruiting top players and there will be a big announcement on Tuesday about a male player coming.
Meanwhile, Tennis NZ has taken a more active role with the ASB Classic this year, sharing the workload and financial risk with Tennis Auckland.
Both professional tournaments are back on the international calendars with the WTA and ATP in January after a three-year absence.
Many new employees will work on the events, including Lamperin, while Rohan West has become CEO of Tennis Auckland.
But aside from the staff changes, the relationship between Tennis Auckland and Tennis NZ has changed, with the latter involved in covering the financial liability for the two weeks of tennis.
“We had a management contract with Tennis Auckland to run the tournaments, which expired after the 2020 event and we were in the process of renewing the contract when Covid hit,” Tennis NZ CEO Julie Paterson said. .
“So that put the contract on hold, because we didn’t know when the tournaments were going to resume. So we collectively agreed that we wanted the tournaments to take place in 2023 and we came together to make sure that happened. .”
Tennis NZ owns the Women’s Classic, while the rights to the men’s tournament belong to Tennis Auckland.