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Pollard receives Golden Achievement Award

MELBOURNE — The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have presented the 2013 Golden Achievement Award to Geoff Pollard AM, the past-president and chairman of Tennis Australia and a current vice president of the ITF. The Golden Achievement Award is given annually to an individual who has made important contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion, or education, and who has devoted long and outstanding service to the sport. Pollard received the award on Saturday in front of a group of colleagues and friends at the Australian Open Legends’ Lunch hosted in honor of Roy Emerson. The award was presented by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Hall of Fame President Emerita Jane Brown Grimes.

“From player development initiatives to significant improvements to the Australian Open and so much more, Geoff Pollard’s contributions to our sport have been vast and impactful,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “Tennis around the world, and particularly in Australia, is better off as a result of Geoff’s leadership, dedication, and accomplishments. He truly embodies the spirit of the Golden Achievement Award, and we are pleased to recognize his great contributions to the game with this honor.”

Pollard retired from his position of president and chairman of Tennis Australia in 2010, after serving the organization for 21 years. During Pollard’s tenure, he led the organization through a period of significant growth, notably including a governance change to convert Tennis Australia from an amateur association to a modern and successful professional corporate body. When Pollard assumed the role, Tennis Australia had a staff of 20 people and annual revenues of $3.5 million, and the Australian Open was in need of an overhaul. Pollard set out on a path of thoughtful strategic management, and under his leadership the organization become profitable, with revenues soaring to more than $110 million. The staff grew to well over 140, and the organization substantially increased national player development initiatives, among many other successes.

Pollard also served as Chairman of the Australian Open, and through a number of major changes including facility improvement and prize money increases, the event went from having its Grand Slam status in jeopardy to being on firm status as an equal to other Grand Slams, and in many aspects, the leader. During Pollard’s tenure, the tournament moved from the small facility at Kooyong to the state-of-the-art tennis center at Melbourne Park, and it became the first of the four majors to have a retractable roof installed. It now has two stadia with retractable roofs, with a third roof to open next year. Prize money is now in excess of $30 million, and the event attracts more than 600,000 fans each year. With Pollard as Chairman, the Australian Open evolved from being primarily a domestic event to becoming Australia’s largest annual international sporting event worth between $150 and $250 million annually to the Victorian economy.

In addition to his work with Tennis Australia, Pollard has served as president of the Oceania Tennis Federation since 1993. In this role, he has instituted significant youth tennis programming that encourages development of future players and tennis fans throughout the region.

In 1988, Pollard was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant and ongoing contributions to the sport.

Pollard’s dedication to tennis extends far beyond Australia and Oceania. He was elected by his international tennis industry peers to his current position of vice president of the International Tennis Federation. In addition, Pollard has served as chairman of the ITF Rules of Tennis Committee and chairman of the ITF Technical Commission. He has been a member of many other worldwide committees, including the WTA Tour Board, Grand Slam Committee, and Davis Cup Committee. In 2010, he joined the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.

While Pollard has devoted his entire career to growing the sport of tennis, he got his start in the game at an early age. He was a successful junior tennis player, and was a member of the Australian Junior Davis Cup team in the 1960s.

Past recipients of the Golden Achievement Award are Shamil Tarpischev of Russia (2012); Tim Phillips of the United Kingdom (2011); Heinz Grimm of Switzerland (2010); Peachy Kellmeyer of the United States (2009); Juan Maria Tintore of Spain (2008); Nancy P. Jeffett of the United States (2007); James R. Cochrane of Great Britain (2006); Eiichi Kawatei of Japan (2005); John Curry of Great Britain (2004); J. Howard “Bumpy” Frazer of the United States (2003); Enrique Morea of Argentina (2002); Pablo Llorens Renaga of Spain (2001); Gil de Kermadec of France (2000) and Brian Tobin of Australia (1999).

bitti.jpg

ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. 2013 Golden Achievement Award Geoff Pollard AM, and Hall of Fame President Emerita Jane Brown Grimes.

Photo by Paul Zimmer

 

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