Tennis

T&RA Ladies Participation Review

23 Mar 2015

UK agreed way forward


Introduction

A review was conducted in response to Claire Fahey’s request to play in the 2014 British Open. Whilst this was the catalyst, it was deemed appropriate to consider the broader question of ladies participation and provide a solution which would consider a broad range of stakeholders and make recommendations in the long-term interest of the health and reputation of Real Tennis in the UK.

Stakeholders Consulted

  • T&RA Tennis Committee members
  • IRTPA Executive Committee members
  • LRTA Committee members
  • Overseas Tennis Associations
  • Significant current/potential sponsors & benefactors
  • UK based and overseas professionals
  • Leading Amateurs
  • Tournament organisers
  • Policy makers in comparable (racquet) sports

Conclusions

  • The review group can report that the overwhelming majority of stakeholders favour the admission of suitably qualified Ladies into Open events.

  • Further it is clear that the major current and recent sponsors of Real Tennis Tournaments/ Clubs are wholeheartedly in favour of ladies participation.
  • Whilst the precedents from other sports vary, there is increasing evidence of ladies competing and being encouraged to compete in the top flight of professional sport.

  • There is a clear safe-harbour provision that permits the operation of single sex events due to differences in the relative strength etc. of the average man versus the average woman. It is uncertain whether these provisions would prevail in the event of an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

  • The reputational consequences for Real Tennis of adopting a single sex approach would be detrimental to the image of the game and would be likely to reduce the quantity and quality of Ladies playing Real Tennis and hence would be damaging to the long-term future of the game.

Recommendations

Following consultation with the stakeholder groups listed above and considering the various arguments/precedents/legal provisions the working party recommended the following points which were accepted by the Tennis Committee and endorsed by the T&RA Board:

  • Where events are designated as Open, or otherwise not manifestly restricted to one gender, they should be Open to suitably qualified players regardless of gender. Where the tournament rules specify a qualifying condition e.g. Age (under/over), Handicap, Status (Amateur/ Professional) or Family Relationship then provided the individual or pair satisfies that condition they will be eligible to participate regardless of gender.
  • If this recommendation is accepted, then the existing draft Guidelines for the operation of the British Open should be amended to make the Tournament explicitly Open as regards gender. Similarly changes should be made to event rules, where required, to Overs/Unders/Fathers & Sons or other events which may have been seen as men only events to make gender neutrality manifest.

  • The IRTPA (on behalf of the IWCC) should be asked to review the operation of "Ranking" and specifically "Race" points and to make recommendations and amendments to those schemes to address the possibility of ladies earning such points. It is recommended that Ladies should be allowed to accumulate ranking points (to ensure appropriate tournament entry and seeding) but not race points (since the World Championship is clearly stated to be a gender specific event).


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