While a industry source earlier this week said ATP Senior Vice President-Communications David Higdon was leaving the ATP of his own free will, the Tennis Week website today reported Higdon is officially out as a victim of “restructuring” at the tour.
“Following a restructuring of the ATP communications and marketing departments, David Higdon has left the ATP,” an ATP spokesman told Tennis Week on Monday afternoon. “The ATP as a whole is thankful for his contributions to the sport over the years and wishes him well.”
Not noted is the fact they’ll be “restructuring” that key communications position from the U.S. Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida office over to Europe, likely London where the new communications VP can snuggle with ATP President Etienne “E.T.” de Villiers. Since Europe is the main hub of tennis, most of the key positions have been moved out of the U.S. Pretty soon the ATP’s U.S. office will be one guy with a fax machine.
Higdon’s downfall began a couple years ago when de Villiers was handing out CEO tags for each of the regional offices. Despite much campaigning, Higdon was passed over in favor of the ATP’s lawyer, Mark Young, to head the U.S. Office.
Higdon has served as the rapidly-spinning mouthpiece of late, covering the many one-eightys of the de Villiers regime, most recently at the Masters Cup in Shanghai.
After earlier this year when de Villiers let slip that China probably wasn’t the most ideal place for the year-end championship, and that the ATP never should have signed off on the location (a pre-E.T. deal), Higdon served as the media mouthpiece once the ATP landed in Shanghai in November. They then had to explain how, unlike previous statements, they LOVED the Shanghai location and were actually offering them an extension of their contract to host for years to come. That is after Shanghai officials reminded them they’d spent more than $200 million thus far on the event, and had more to pony-up.
A former writer for TENNIS magazine before putting aside his journalistic ethics to spin for the ATP (as did prior comm. VP Pete Alfano, who was picked from the NYT), Higdon will no doubt take some time to gather his eqilibrium and possibly pick up an exemplary writing career that also included work for the New York Times and Sports Illustrated among other publications.
Then again that depends on what kind of exit contract he signs, since I’m sure he could pen quite the book on the wacky going-ons behind the scenes on the men’s tour. But like former CEO Steve Bellamy’s silent exit from The Tennis Channel, tennis as a whole is very good about paying out large exit lump sums that include no-talky-talky clauses. Such memoirs would make for some good reading, but they’re probably 10-20 years down the road.
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