The Women's Tennis Association decided overwhelmingly in an informal vote this afternoon to pull out of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, effective next year, if a new national tournament that has been proposed receives an attractive network television package and if most of the top 20 women players support the separation.
Peachy Kellmeyer, WTA director of operations, said she didn't count the show of hands but that a vast majority of the 42 members present at the meeting in the Georgia Tech Coliseum where women are playing, are in favor of withdrawing from the largest U.S. tennis tournament.
The association is upset at what it has termed inadequate television coverage from CBS and the decision by the United Stated Tennis Association that the women cannot increase their field from 96 to 128, as the men have.
The WTA said it is prepared to accept a proposal from a New York-based promotional firm, Capital Sports, to stage an indoor late-summer tournament in New Jersey with $500,000 in prize money -- nearly twice what the women now compete for at the Open.
Kellmeyer said the only thing standing in the way of a formal withdrawal from the USTA-sponsored Open in New York is the support of the top 20 players and a newtwork television package. "We'll now go back and canvass the top 20 players to see how many will commit themselves to a separate championship," said Kellmeyer. "We don't want to start a new championship unless it is first class. And it wouldn't be that without the best players in the world and network television exposure.
"We expect a formal decision in the next couple of weeks."
USTA officials said last week that such a move would "be a great blow to women's tennis and to professional tennis overall." USTA Executive Secretary Rick O'Shea and W.E. Hester, past association president, attended the meeting but could not be reached for comment.
The USTA will hold its annual meeting in November, at which time it could decide to meet the WTA's demands.
The Capital Sports proposal would also make WTA a partner in revenue sharing and the administration of the tounament.