Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Oracle's Role in Saving US Tennis, with College Tennis a Prime Beneficiary
During the NCAAs last month, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced a partnership with Oracle Corporation, a Fortune 500 computer technology company. Along with the ITA's rankings and the annual awards luncheon at the US Open now being sponsored by the company, there's a new fall tournament, starting this year at the Malibu Racquet Club.
The small private club, purchased in 2007 by Oracle's chairman Larry Ellison, an enthusiastic player who owns the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, will host the tournament September 18-20. The men's and women's draws, with 16 players in singles and eight teams in doubles, will be filled based on preseason rankings, with spots for returning Indoor champions if still eligible, although they would probably be highly ranked anyway. The tentative selection process and schedule for the tournament:
Ellison is well known for his involvement with tennis at the highest level, but Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd is also a staunch supporter of the collegiate version of the sport, with the Baylor University Tennis Center named after him. Hurd, who attended Baylor on a tennis scholarship, graduating in 1979, was instrumental in the Collegiate Challenge men's team event that has been held the past two years in Indian Wells.
Both Ellison and Hurd have been the subject of recent articles on Bloomburg.com. The article on Hurd is titled "Oracle's Mark Hurd Wants to Revitalize American Tennis by Starting With Schools," and focuses on his belief that US college tennis can serve as the sport's minor league farm system. The final paragraph implies that the Malibu tournament is just one of two tournaments Oracle will be sponsoring in the future, although the second is most likely the Collegiate Challenge.
Next year, Oracle will back a pair of college tournaments and plans to create a series of pro American tournaments with spots reserved for promising college players. Hurd and Ellison have formed deep ties with the game’s elite, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, in the quest to inject fresh life into the American game and produce some superstars. “We are looking at all sorts of things,” says Hurd. “We are doing everything we can to help the sport.”