Guillermo Vilas, who received a one-year suspension and a $20,000 fine last month from the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, filed a formal notice of appeal yesterday, the council announced in New York.
Vilas called the council's sanction "without basis in fact" and a "patently illegal and offensive determination" in papers filed with the council's lawyer, Roy Reardon. Vilas was suspended and fined June 8 in Paris after the Council determined that his coach and representative, Ion Tiriac, had accepted $100,000 for Vilas to participate in a tennis tournament in Rotterdam March 14-20.
At the time, Vilas was given 30 days in which to appeal. Filing of the notice yesterday means the suspension will not take effect until the appeals process has been exhausted, which could take several months and permit Vilas to participate in the U.S. Open in September.
A spokesman for the Tennis Council in New York said Vilas' appeal could be heard by a single arbitrator if both Vilas and the council can agree on the same person. If not, each will select one arbitrator and those two will select a third.
Once that process is complete, the arbitrators must give 30 days advance notice of a date to hear the appeal; they have until 30 days after hearing the appeal to file their final report.
Vilas, the fifth-ranked player in the world, is the first to be suspended for accepting guaranteed appearance money, a practice said to be commonplace in professional tennis. Several of the world's leading tennis players have spoken out against the suspension.
If Vilas' suspension is upheld, he would be barred from all Grand Prix and Davis Cup events, but would be permitted to play in exhibitions.