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October 9, 2013

Alison Lee


ALISON LEE:  Hello, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  It's nice to see everyone gathered for me to say hello.  I think I know quite a few of you because I've been coming here for many, many years.  I wanted to see you all today in the capacity of my new role as head of the region.
Does anyone want to ask any questions?  I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to just talk.

Q.  It's the first time that the Chinese player Zhang Ze played with Roger Federer in the doubles and they won the game.  How do you see this cooperation?
ALISON LEE:  Fabulous.  To have someone like Roger pair with one of Chinese's up‑and‑coming players, that's a wonderful promotion for tennis, for Zhang himself.
It doesn't surprise me at all that someone like Roger stepped up to do something like this.  I know it's gotten a lot of coverage.  It was great to see they won their first match and I hope they can win a few more matches.
Very good.

Q.  This is the fourth year for the Shanghai Rolex Masters to be the best of the ATP 1000s.  What is your impression of the Shanghai Rolex Masters?
ALISON LEE:  Obviously, as I've said, I've been coming here for many years.  To see this stadium in particular start out in 2005 with the Tennis Masters Cup event, we thought the facility then was spectacular.  To see what it's become today, 2013, as the Masters 1000 event, the facility itself grows more and more beautiful, it really does.
Because you may not have seen other tournaments, you may not have anything to compare it with.  But it truly is beautiful.  The permanent corporate hospitality, merchandise area, the courts, it's a very high level.
The players, you've got the best players in the world.  You've got the top guys all on court today, all of our star players.  I think Shanghai's very lucky to have a tournament like that in your city.
It's very strong.  There's a reason that Shanghai keeps winning the ATP player award.  They love playing here, they really do.  It's a warm environment.  They go in the player restaurant.  It is far and away the best player restaurant and player lounge in the world.
So for players, yes, we had rain at the start of the week, but they know they can go and relax, have something to eat, and it's okay.  It's a very good tournament.  You should have no doubt.

Q.  It is said that Beijing is also applying for having an ATP 1000.  How likely do you think it is for two cities from China to have an ATP 1000 series?
ALISON LEE:  There are nine Masters 1000 tournaments in the world.  There are no licenses for sale.  The ATP are not increasing that number of tournaments.  There are four Grand Slams, nine Masters 1000 tournaments, 11 or so 500s, and the rest are 250s.
Beijing is not in the process of acquiring a 1000.  But one day things might change because who knows.  When we get players from China and other parts of Asia, we get the momentum moving forward with lots of players, more challenger tournaments, more ATP tournaments, of course we should have another Masters 1000 tournament one day.
It's not happening right now.

Q.  As you can feel, Chinese people always want to have bigger tournaments, more important tournaments.  Can you elaborate more on how important the ATP challengers are?  Does the ATP plan to have more challengers next season because it's the national games here?
ALISON LEE:  That's right.  Challengers, which some of you may be aware of, are one of the vital stepping stones for creating talent.  You have the futures events, challenger tournaments, ATP World Tour tournaments, Grand Slams.
When you say will Beijing get another 1000?  I think China needs to focus on getting the right structure of tournaments because you can be top‑heavy and then not have anything in the middle.
We are working with the CTA who have done a great job.  They've gone from having no challenger tournaments to having one in Beijing, run by the China Open, to six last year.  That's a very good number.  They've committed to six next year, as well.
I just had a challenger workshop today with all of the challenger operators around the region, including the CTA.  Everyone is very, very aware of the fact that we need to have more challenger events in Asia and in China.
In Asia we now have 28.  That includes Australia.  In Asia/Pacific China, 17.  In Italy, 15.  They used to have 25.  Economic problems, they don't have so many.
But countries that have a very good structure of tournaments, juniors, futures, challengers, ATP World Tour events, countries like Spain, France, Brazil, they're the ones creating the top players.
France has 10 players inside the top 100.  That's where we need to go.

Q.  Thank you for your high comments about the Shanghai Rolex Masters.  In your eyes, is there any room for improvement for the Shanghai Rolex Masters in terms of organization, match‑watching experience or other aspects?
ALISON LEE:  Well, it's a beautiful stadium, as I said.  But, of course, people do talk about that it's a fair distance from the city.  Perhaps one day we will see a train line come here.  The best venues around the world, the big ones in America and other places, the most successful ones have a train line.  That's probably what Shanghai needs in the next step in the in next few years to attract more spectators, because definitely you've got the best product.

Q.  There is some news saying that Shenzhen may have an ATP 500 and 250 events.  Is that what you mean by China needs the right structure because you need to build some low tournaments maybe?
ALISON LEE:  Look, I can't comment on that at the moment, on Shenzhen.  Definitely there's talk, but I can't comment on that.
If a tournament were to move to Shenzhen, that would obviously be very good for China.  But I can't say more.

Q.  The number of challenger events is increasing in China.  What is the expectation from the ATP for the Chinese market?
ALISON LEE:  What is the expectation?  Well, it could be a hundred really.  You can play in South America for three months and never leave South America, or Brazil even, because they have a good swing of tournaments with different prize money, 50, 75.
That's what China should aim for because it's very difficult for players, as we know, to travel long distances from China.  Visas, jetlag, food, culture, different things.
So to have more challenger events in China that attract international, good players, so that your local players can compete against them, that's what you need to aim for.  The CTI is very aware of this and working on that.

Q.  As a female staff in this male's game, I want to know what kind of advantage you have in your work?  Can you specifically talk about some details, the certain work you do.
ALISON LEE:  Yes, I am the only female on the management team for the ATP.  I do think it's true that women add a different perspective when you're in a room full of men.  I really do believe that, a different perspective.
Apart from that, I just consider myself a regular employee, the same as anybody else.

Q.  Compared with the male staff, what kind of advantages do you have in your work as a female?
ALISON LEE:  Advantages?  Well, mainly the different perspective when matters arise.  Say you come across an issue or a problem.  Perhaps men look at it one way, women might look at it another way.  So a different perspective.

Q.  When recently you opened a Chinese social media account.  You always update it with some news.  Why do you have the idea to open a Chinese social account?
ALISON LEE:  Well, you guys are so active in your social media.  I wanted to reach out to you all.  I don't know if you find it very interesting, but any photos I get, throw it on there, a couple comments.
Any advice?

Q.  More.
ALISON LEE:  More?  Okay, I'll do my best.

Q.  Just now you mentioned a very good structure for the tennis.  I think it's very good for tennis itself.  How will the ATP attract sponsors to get more interest in the different levels of tennis?  Chinese people like to see the ATP 1000, 500, but if you put more challengers here, how do you get more people to watch the games or sponsors to support this kind of low‑level tennis?  I think it's a problem.  Do you have other successful experiences in other parts of the world?
ALISON LEE:  First of all, the reason that people put on challengers, usually they're run by tennis federations.  The reason they've run them is to produce better players.
Being a form of entertainment and attracting spectators is a secondary consideration.  They're putting on an event that they want their local players to test their abilities against overseas better players.  That's why they have them.
Some tournaments in Europe and South America, they do very well with sponsors.  Actually even today some of the Japanese ones, they do very well.  They charge for tickets.  They have 10,000 people attend their challenger events in Japan.  But they've been doing it for a while and they know what to do.
Some places we've seen that you have a sponsor of a swing of challenger events.  That makes sense in South America or Europe.  It's more appealing to a sponsor.
But challenger events are not to make money; they are to produce top players.  Usually they're funded by federations, although local promoters also fund them.  They just work out a way they can make it work.

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