Last week, while the buzz and excitement of one of the world’s most prestigious tennis events played out on the courts nearby, members of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) joined tournament officials at Wimbledon for an engaging round table discussion on integrity in the sport.
The session added to an already busy schedule of ITIA engagement with the wider tennis family across the grass-court season, as colleagues from the education and investigation teams were joined by CEO Karen Moorhouse at the All England Lawn Tennis Club to further strengthen the relationship and communication between the ITIA and officials on tour.
According to Wimbledon.com, there are 377 officials working at The Championships in 2023, covering more than 650 matches across the fortnight in south west London. Though two of the four major tournaments now utilise electronic line calling, the world’s oldest tennis tournament opts for tradition, relying upon the most skilled officials in the game in the process.
According to Championships Chief Umpire, Adrian Wilson, the ongoing support of the ITIA is vital in upholding impeccable standards expected on the hallowed grass.
He said: “Working closely with the ITIA remains an important part of tennis officiating and Wimbledon in particular.
“All our Officials working at The Championships, whether at Qualifying or Main Draw, have to be registered on the ITF Officiating Portal and as such sign up to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, which gives the All England Lawn Tennis Club confidence that we are doing everything we can to protect the integrity of the sport and Wimbledon specifically.”
The session focused on developing lines of communication, alongside providing officials with the invaluable opportunity to ask any questions about the ITIA, investigations, and case studies of corrupt activity on tour.
Jenni Kennedy, the Senior Director of Investigations at the ITIA, was part of the round table discussion at SW19 and explained the importance of such meetings in the pursuit of a clean sport for all.
She said: “Tennis officials have an integral role to play in upholding the integrity of our sport. They have the potential to be our eyes and ears on the ground.
“The tour is so diverse, with tournaments occurring in multiple continents in any given week. Officials supporting us with our intelligence gathering can be a huge help in our investigative process, and it’s important that officials know they can rely on the ITIA’s support in both identifying and eliminating corrupt activity.”
“It’s possible that they have spotted something which, while it may seem innocuous to them, could be the missing piece of the jigsaw in an investigation. It was great to have the opportunity to talk informally about our work together and strengthen those relationships.”
The ITIA team has delivered outreach across the professional tour, including events at Nottingham, Queen’s, and Wimbledon qualifiers. This work has been coupled with strategic engagement at junior events, including Tennis Europe and ITF competitions in Roehampton.
Efforts to provide preventative education to juniors has proven particularly successful in 2023, with emerging stars like 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, who reached the fourth round in SW19 having come through qualifying, benefiting from one-to-one training with ITIA staff on tennis’ twin anti-corruption and anti-doping programmes.
Meanwhile, the Wimbledon round table is one of an increasing number of engagements delivered by the ITIA for officials in professional tennis, as well as one-to-one and group education sessions for emerging professional players. These initiatives are underpinned by the ITIA’s strategic focus on prevention, led by the Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board and the organisation’s new CEO Moorhouse, who joined the ITIA in the first quarter of 2023, bringing a wealth of governance and regulatory expertise to the role.
She said: “As an organisation, we want to place an emphasis on being approachable, really embedding ourselves within the sport. It is vital that the tennis community has trust in us to uphold the principle of fair competition, and we can only do that effectively if we build networks with key stakeholders and maintain a presence on tour.
“Over time, we’re beginning to see more and more players, agents and officials approach members of the team to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. Events like this week’s round table provide us with opportunities to offer face-to-face support to officials and really get to understand their thoughts, concerns, and ideas of how we can work together more effectively.”
The next officials’ round table is scheduled to take place at the US Open in New York later this year, but the ITIA provides support to tennis tours and officials of all levels throughout the tennis calendar.
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Published 12 July 2023 12:00
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