Davies receives Hall of Fame ring
NEWPORT, R.I. — When tennis industry executive Mike Davies took his first administrative position in the sport in the late 1960s, the Open Era was just beginning and the sport was in a pivotal transition period. With his creative business mind and vision for the immense potential tennis offered as a professional sport, Davies hit the ground running with new ideas to make tennis better for players, more enjoyable for fans, and financially viable. More than 40 years later, Davies is still at it, as he currently serves as CEO of the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara. Over the years, he has been responsible for developments in the game that range from negotiating the first, highly successful television broadcast contracts for tennis and developing major sponsorships to introducing the colored tennis ball to the game. In recognition of his vast and important contributions to tennis, Davies was presented the highest honor in the sport earlier this summer — induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In a special ceremony on Friday evening at the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara, this important achievement was celebrated once again with the presentation of his official Hall of Fame ring.
Hall of Fame CEO Mark Stenning presented Davies’ ring on Center Court at the New Haven Open following the evening semifinal. Also participating in the ring ceremony was fellow Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz .
The Hall of Fame rings were introduced last year and are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next few years as a special symbol of their induction. Hall of Fame ring ceremonies have been hosted recently during Wimbledon, when Martina Navratilova received her ring, at La Grande Nuit de Tennis at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where Frankie Durr, Ilie Nastase, Nicola Pietrangeli, and Gianni Clerici were honored, and at the Copa Claro tournament in Buenos Aires, where Gabriela Sabatini was presented her ring. The ring presentations have offered a platform for tennis fans to re-connect with some of the greatest champions of the sport at venues and events that have significant meaning to the Hall of Famers and their fans.
The personalized rings bear a green stone set in gold, to complement the Hall of Fame’s brand colors. In addition, the rings are etched with each honoree’s name and the Hall of Fame logo crest. The rings have been generously underwritten by The Bruce T. Halle Family of Scottsdale, Arizona.
After a successful pre-Open Era playing career, Davies’ 40+ year career in tennis promotion and administration officially began in 1968, when he became Executive Director of World Championship Tennis. While leading the WCT, Davies was at the forefront of staging tournaments and selling sponsorships and television rights, thereby creating a platform for professional tennis to expand into large stadiums and major cities. The group contracted top professional players including Rod Laver, Cliff Drysdale, Roy Emerson, Tony Roche, and Stan Smith. In 1970, Davies launched the first multi-million dollar pro tour, which consisted of 20 tournaments throughout the world, and culminated in a final that aired on NBC- the very first network broadcast of tennis. The airing drew an extraordinary 20 million viewers, and interest in tennis surged. The telecast was just one of Davies many innovations that are still in play today.
For example, when viewers commented that it was difficult to see the ball and the players on a telecast, Davies introduced yellow tennis balls and colored apparel. When pace of play became too unpredictable, Davies mandated new rules of 30 seconds between points and 90 seconds between games. And when the networks made it difficult for companies to advertise, Davies sold Wilson on court branding rights- forging the way for growth in sports broadcasts and sponsorships.
In the 1980’s Davies moved on to serve as Executive Director of the ATP and then as General Manager of the ITF, putting both organizations on firm financial footing during his tenure, and facilitating many other positive changes, including increased prize money and more tournaments for the ATP players.
Not just a mover and shaker behind the scenes, Davies, originally from Swansea, Wales, was Britain’s No. 1 ranked player in 1957, 1959, and 1960 and he was a member of the British Davis Cup team. In 1960 he reached the men’s doubles final at Wimbledon with Bobby Wilson.
Since 1955, 225 of the greatest champions and contributors to the sport have been inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Presently, there are 88 Hall of Famers living in 16 different countries, a testament to the global reach of the game.
Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring the game’s greatest heroes. In addition, the Hall of Fame provides a landmark for tennis enthusiasts, offering an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and its stars, historic grass tennis courts that date back to 1880 and are open to the public, an ATP World Tour tournament and the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July, and numerous public events year-round. To learn more, visit tennisfame.com.
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