A good racquet

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:52 AM ET

Canada's top professional women's tennis tournament has not exactly been a star-studded event lately, but this country has produced the WTA Tour's latest executive hires.

The WTA Tour announced yesterday that 15-year Tennis Canada employee and current Toronto tournament director Stacey Allaster has been hired to fill the new position of tour president, while Ottawa native David Shoemaker has been promoted to chief operating officer and general counsel.

The Canadians will officially become the right-hand people for WTA chairman/CEO Larry Scott Jan. 1, 2006, at the tour's office in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"(Canadians) are the flavour of month," said Scott, who played doubles professionally with Canadian Grant Connell in the late 1980s.

The WTA has courted Allaster, a Tennis Canada vice-president, for several years. Scott had informal discussions with Allaster at Wimbledon this year and finalized the deal at the U.S. Open. She will play a key role in marketing and sponsorship efforts, two of her departments in Canada.

But, after all the bad publicity because of big-name withdrawals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal the past few years, player commitment and tour scheduling will be issues close to Allaster's heart.

"We're not going to create (the right) system and culture for the current superstars, but we are building the right system and culture for future superstars," Allaster said. "To make the business work, we need top players to play top events."

Scott was impressed with Allaster's work in Toronto, where Tennis Canada unveiled the new Rexall Centre last year and landed Rogers as a title sponsor.

"Canada is an important member in our tour and this should send a strong signal of the degree we have admired the operations and professionalism of the Rogers Cup," Scott said.

Shoemaker was chief legal officer before the promotion.

Allaster will stay with Tennis Canada until December as the organization attempts to figure out how to replace her.

"There's a very good chance (of a change) to the management structure as there should be in any case where you lose a very significant employee," Tennis Canada president/CEO Michael Downey said. "When you have a person with Stacey's tenure, the structure starts to gravitate toward the individual. Now, we have a clean slate. We have to determine how the existing people fit into it and where the gaps are."


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