Pollard beats McNamee in Tennis Australia vote

Geoff Pollard retained his place as Tennis Australia president after fending off a challenge from former Australian Open tournament director and Grand Slam doubles champion Paul McNamee.

The vote Monday involving Tennis Australia’s 16 state and territory delegates was the first time Pollard had faced a challenge to his leadership since he succeeded Brian Tobin in 1989. He said following the secret ballot that this year would be his last in the post.

McNamee, who had been supported by the country’s leading tennis player, Lleyton Hewitt, had criticized Tennis Australia’s administration, including its performance on player development and declining player registrations.

“I’m planning a smooth transition where everyone can put their name forward and have a look at it for next year,” Pollard said.

He said his main focus over the next 12 months was to firm up final details for the redevelopment of Melbourne Park – venue for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Pollard sits on the International Tennis Federation board and is on its Davis Cup committee.

“I want to complete the negotiations with the government for Melbourne Park and those will be completed in the next 12 months. I know I had the support of the board,” he said. “I knew the right way forward was to complete these negotiations and make a proper transition which will happen next year.”

In March 2006, former tour player McNamee left Tennis Australia after 12 years as the Open’s tournament director and then chief executive. He has held executive positions in golf and Australian Rules football since, and is also a thoroughbred racehorse owner.

McNamee indicated in a statement following the vote that he would likely try again for the top position.

“I do believe that Australia needs to rebuild its status as a great tennis nation and, in order to do this, there are many ongoing issues that must be addressed,” McNamee said. “I will continue to play my part in helping our great game.”

McNamee won two singles and 24 doubles titles in his career.

He was ranked No. 1 in doubles in June 1981 and won four Grand Slam doubles crowns – the 1979 Australian Open and the 1980 and 1982 Wimbledon titles with fellow Australian Peter McNamara, and the 1983 Australian Open with Mark Edmonson.

McNamee was also a member of the Australian team which won the Davis Cup in 1983 and 1986.