• Tennis news

Canada's Downey named new LTA chief

ESPN staff
September 24, 2013
Canada reached the semi-finals of the Davis Cup for the first time in a century in 2013 © AP

Michael Downey, the president and CEO of Tennis Canada, has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.

Downey will relocate from his native Toronto in January 2014 and formally succeed outgoing chief executive Roger Draper, whose seven-year reign comes to an end this month.

The 56-year-old will be paid £300,000 a year with possibility for £100,000 bonus - less than half of his predecessor's £640,000 salary, a figure criticised as "unthinkable" by the parliamentary All-Party Tennis Group during a 2012 inquest into the sport's public funding.

Downey made his named working with Molson Breweries before moving into sports management with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors prior to taking the helm at Tennis Canada in 2004.

"This is a huge privilege for me, at a fantastic time for British tennis," Downey told the LTA. "We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, and it is an honour to be able to lead the work of the LTA in getting more people playing tennis."

Under Downey's leadership, Canadian tennis has developed a strong financial base through partnerships in the business world and invested heavily in tennis development, a factor that no doubt endeared him to the LTA selection committee.

In 2007, Downey spearheaded a new initiative to invest $1million into the country's high-performance program and open two national training facilities in Montreal and Toronto, and Canadian tennis has already seen the rewards for their inventment.

As well as the continuing success of the Rogers Cup tournaments in Montreal and Toronto, Canada reach the Davis Cup semi-finals for the second time in its history and the first time in a century in 2013, falling to Serbia.

Milos Raonic became Canada's first player to reach the ATP's top 10 since rankings were introduced in 1973 shortly before the US Open, while 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard is the highest-ranked Canadian female at No. 46 in the world.

"We set out to recruit a CEO with true success in business, with exceptional leadership credentials and ideally with significant knowledge of tennis," said LTA Chairman, David Gregson. "Michael demonstrably fits the bill perfectly and was the unanimous choice of our recruitment panel."

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