MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: Geoff Pollard, Vice President of the International Tennis Federation and past-president and chairman of Tennis Australia, has been presented with the 2013 Golden Achievement Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum and the ITF.
The 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 was presented with the award by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Hall of Fame President Emerita Jane Brown Grimes on Saturday at the Australian Open Legends’ Lunch, hosted in honour of six-time Australian Open champion Roy Emerson.
"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 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 recognise his great contributions to the game with this honour."
Pollard served as President and chairman of Tennis Australia for 21 years before retiring in 2010. He led the organisation 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. Indeed, when Pollard took on the role, Tennis Australia had a staff of 20 people and annual revenues of $3.5million but under his leadership the organisation became profitable, with revenues soaring to more than $110million and staff growing to well over 140.
Pollard also served as chairman of the Australian Open, improving the facilities and increasing prize money to ensure that 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 also served as president of the Oceania Tennis Federation since 1993, instituting 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 role within tennis has extended far beyond Australia. 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.