The ITF have set-up the ITF World Tennis Tour Players Panel ©ITF

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced the creation of the ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel for men and women, to give its athletes input on how the circuit is run in future.

As part of its ITF2024 strategy, the ITF is seeking to improve communication with the players in the sport.

Already, panels exist for three tennis disciplines with the Wheelchair Tennis Tour Panel being created in 2018, the ITF Seniors Panel in 2017 and the ITF Beach Tennis Tour Panel in 2019.

The new Panel will advise and make recommendations to the ITF World Tennis Tour Committee, which will then report to the ITF Board of Directors.

Seven current players from both the men's and women's circuit will be elected by their peers, and will be joined by an ITF-appointed chair and an ITF-appointed coach.

Australia's Mark Woodforde, a 17-time Grand Slam doubles champion as well as an Olympic gold medallist and former Davis Cup champion, will chair the men's tennis Panel.

Mary Pierce, a four-time Grand Slam winner for France who also won 18 Women's Tennis Association (WTA) singles titles and 10 WTA doubles titles, will chair the women's Panel.

Both will also serve on the ITF Board of Directors as athlete representatives, but neither, as well as the appointed coaches, will receive a vote when it is required by the Panel.

Tennis legend Roger Federer has recently suggested a merge between the ATP and WTA to promote further equality in the game ©Getty Images
Tennis legend Roger Federer has recently suggested a merge between the ATP and WTA to promote further equality in the game ©Getty Images

 The World Tennis Tour is considered to be an entry level circuit for professional tennis.

Men's tennis players with an Association of Tennis Professionals singles or doubles ranking below 350 can nominate a fellow player for election or stand themselves, with the same criteria covering women outside the top 150 in the WTA rankings.

All players on the ITF Tour can vote for the candidates.

ITF President David Haggerty said it is important to have differing views on the Panel. 

"It is vital that the views of players are represented at all levels of the sports and across the globe," he added.

"That is why we are establishing an ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panel to represent the interests and collective voices of athletes competing on the men's and women's ITF World Tennis Tour.

"We encourage tennis players to get involved with the player election process, this is an opportunity to contribute to making decisions for tennis through the exchange of knowledge, experience and ideas and to help shape the sport for future generations of players."

The nomination period for the 2020-2021 Panel will open in May with the outcome of the elections expected to be announced around June 15.

Elected members will serve a term until the end of the 2021 season, and thereafter each term will last two years.