McNamee gets a tilt at dream job
PAUL McNamee has switched his focus from the domestic to the international, shelving a plan to seek nomination for the Tennis Australia board during next month's first election under its new constitution and instead pursuing the position as chief executive — and possibly chairman — of the men's governing body, the ATP.
A former Australian Open tennis and golf administrator and recently axed head of the Melbourne Football Club, McNamee has already privately expressed his interest in the ATP role being vacated in December by South African Etienne de Villiers. The search is expected to take several months; Tennis Australia board nominations close on Friday week ahead of the October 27 vote.
New York lawyer John McEnroe snr, Sydney-based ATP executive Brad Drewett and veteran American tennis identity Butch Buchholtz have all been linked to the prestigious ATP job, with 73-year-old McEnroe snr having publicly flagged his intention to apply. So, now, has McNamee, who recently canvassed the possibility of succeeding Geoff Pollard as Tennis Australia president. Pollard intends to stay on for a final two-year term.
"I don't think you can be pursuing international positions at the same time as getting involved in domestic politics, so I'm not intending to stand for the (TA) board," McNamee said yesterday.
The former Wimbledon doubles champion said the ATP role would "be a dream for anybody in tennis, the ultimate job, and I've got my energy on that as far as work is concerned — not that I was looking for a job at Tennis Australia, by the way, but until the ATP process plays out I won't be pursuing another formal job here".
De Villiers has served as both chairman and CEO of the ATP, and no decision has been made on whether to continue with that system or revert to split roles. "It's very early days. All we know is there's a vacancy — or two," said McNamee, who is nursing a badly injured left hand that required surgery after an accident dismantling a door earlier this week.
"They've only just started the process of hiring the search firm — all I'm doing, along with everybody else, is expressing an interest.
"I guess I would be pretty hopeful of getting to the interview stage, and once you get to that stage you've always got a chance, but it will be highly sought-after. It's a very important job in the sport, especially with all the changes that are happening now. It will be a plum job for somebody."
McNamee continues to organise — but no longer owns — the Hopman Cup, and is a management consultant of the Southern Cross FC consortium, which is bidding for the second A-League Melbourne franchise.
Tennis Australia's member representatives will elect a president and six other board members at its annual general meeting, with the board then appointing two further directors.