Players' Group Moving Forward

Times Staff Writer

Bolstered by the recent backing of world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, the new players' trade association will hold its first organizational meeting Tuesday in Key Biscayne, Fla., at the NASDAQ-100 Open.

The International Men's Tennis Assn. (IMTA) has been incorporated, according to its legal counsel, and the agenda for the opening meeting includes the election of an executive committee.

Among the group's listed goals, in a memo issued Thursday, are to "improve the flow of information from the ATP to the players" and "obtain financial and operational information from the ATP, including information relating to the player pension plan, ATP revenue and expenses."

One of the key figures behind the effort is Wayne Ferreira, who has been meeting with players in informational sessions. He said more than 20 players had signed on.

Meanwhile, ATP leaders have been reaching out to their constituents. The ATP's chief executive, Mark Miles, made it clear in a letter to tournament directors, dated March 7, that IMTA was not trying to break up the ATP, but organize "the players' voice with the ATP differently."

"Since January, I have met personally at length with more than 50 [players], and it does not appear that this initiative is appealing to the vast majority of them," Miles wrote in a letter obtained by The Times.

Hewitt doesn't fall in that category. He dismissed the assertion of Todd Woodbridge, a member of the ATP's Player Council, who told Reuters that the group would fizzle out.

"Somehow, I doubt that," Hewitt said. "... I think the biggest thing is getting the players' issues across better. I think there's not enough -- the ATP hasn't done enough for the players, as the players' voice."

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