Craig Tiley has defended his dual titles as Tennis Australia chief executive and Australian Open tournament director, insisting the responsibilities encompass “basically” one role.

There is a belief in the Australian tennis community that Tiley and TA’s obsession with transforming the grand slam event into a sporting and entertainment goliath has come at the grassroots game’s expense.

But Tiley said those concerns came from “a tiny minority” and were “emotive”, according to his data, and that most of his time was spent focusing on growing the sport in Australia.

“People want to take a crack and bring it up, because it’s an easy one, because you see two titles,” Tiley told SEN’s First Serve.

“I should probably remove one of the titles … basically, it’s one role. I think to really understand it, is you’re the CEO of the business … (and) a big part of the business is the Australian Open.

“I don’t run the Australian Open – there is a team of people that run the Australian Open … my responsibility is to make sure we have the best capability and the best leadership.”

Tiley said the confusion stemmed from him being the spokesperson for not only the Australian Open but Tennis Australia in general.

He was appointed as TA’s CEO in October 2013, on top of being the grand slam’s tournament director, a role he has held since 2006.

“People will say the tournament is separate from the business. That was the problem tennis had historically –the two were separate,” he said.

“There were two separate reports to the board. It was during that time when the sport had the biggest challenges and so it was, I think, in the late 2000s when they were brought together into one organisation.

“That was the right move – the other slams have it that way. So I think sometimes it’s a misunderstood role.

“You only really get to understand it if you’re actually working in the organisation. No one in the organisation would be saying it’s two different roles.”

Tiley conceded TA had room to improve but that its intent was right and that he shared the “same objective” as the sport’s rank-and-file participants to “get more people to play the game”.

He also said TA’s investment in the heavily scrutinised UTR Rating system – designed to provide level-based competition – was not compromising its decision-making on how best to develop and retain players.

But a UTR points race will be introduced as “one of many solutions” to better the format and try to address a significant slump in tournament entries, particularly from regional areas.

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