Oracle Unveils $$$ Awards for Young Tennis Professionals
Let me start by saying that here’s a company (a big tennis sponsor) that really gets it. If tennis is to continue well into the future more promising players need to be able to secure the financial funding it takes to make it in the sport. There are simply too many tennis athletes that could be world class who can’t survive without financial assistance. Yes there are tennis scholarships in college, but nothing significant after.
So, here’s the news I’m pretty excited about: Oracle Corp. (Larry Ellison’s company) today announced the creation of the Oracle U.S. Tennis Awards, player grants that will be awarded annually at the BNP Paribas Open to assist young American players as they transition from college into the professional ranks.
The two $100,000 grants will be awarded each year at the BNP Paribas Open to a male and female professional who have demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship and an aptitude for success on the pro tour. They must have played collegiate tennis prior to turning professional.
“Making the transition from college to the professional ranks is a real challenge,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “We hope these awards will provide young players with support to develop their games and improve their mental and physical fitness. Our goal is to grow the program and we invite input and support from other companies who are committed to U.S. athletics.”
The awards will be administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the governing body of college tennis.
“The ITA is proud of our partnership with Oracle,” said ITA CEO Timothy Russell. “Together we are growing the brand of college tennis and enhancing student-athlete experiences, and in doing so helping to return the leaders of tomorrow in America and around the world.”
Recipients will be selected by the newly created Oracle U.S. Tennis Awards Advisory Council, a six-member body that includes individuals committed to the growth and improvement of American tennis. The inaugural members of the Advisory Council are:
Chris Evert: Former singles world No. 1; current ESPN tennis commentator; co-founder of Evert Tennis Academy.
Ilana Kloss: Former singles world No. 19; commissioner of Mylan World Team Tennis.
Peggy Michel: three-time grand slam doubles champion; played college tennis at Arizona State; current Associate Tournament Director at the BNP Paribas Open.
Dr. Timothy Russell: CEO ITA; college educator for three decades.
Martin Blackman: General Manager, USTA Player Development; played college tennis at Stanford.
Todd Martin: former singles world #4; CEO International Tennis Hall of Fame; played college tennis at Northwestern University.
“I know how difficult the early months and years of a professional career can be,” said Martin. “These awards will certainly help. It’s great to see a company like Oracle step up to support American tennis.”
Added Evert: “The people at Oracle understand that becoming a top player requires a strong support system. We are confident that these awards will help some young players through those daunting early years on the tour.”