WATCH - Draw for underage tennis tournament sparks sexism row after 'trashy' ceremony involving female models
The Next Gen ATP Finals draw party has been branded 'sexist' after a remarkable ceremony in which players were made to select their groups for the tournament by choosing female models.
The Next Gen series is an eight-man competition taking place for the first time this year, pitting the world's top seven 21-and-under singles players, plus an Italian wild card, against one another in two round-robin groups of four, with semi-finals and a final following to determine the best young tennis player on the planet.
The draw, which took place in Milan on Sunday night, involved each player taking turns to pick a model, each of whom had the letter 'A' or 'B' hidden on their body. That letter would then correspond to the round-robin group into which the player would go.
After the player had chosen his model, they walked down a catwalk arm in arm, with the girl then revealing their letter to the cameras.
It made for uncomfortable viewing, with many in the tennis community calling the process 'sexist'. Fans voiced their discontent on Twitter, calling the process "trashy", "depressing" and "shameful".
The ATP NextGen Milan draw ceremony made players select models to determine their groups. Stunningly uncomfortable, cringeworthy and trashy. pic.twitter.com/g63OfK5IOK— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 5, 2017
A number of rule changes will be experimented with at the Next Gen ATP Finals, and organisers had hoped that the tournament could give a glimpse into the future of the game.
Indeed, the official tagline for the competition reads: "The future is now".
However, the ceremony for the draw for the tournament provided little reason to believe the sport was progressing as hoped.
Cycling, motorsport and boxing have all come in for criticism for failing to modernise in recent years and retaining the presence of female models in podium ceremonies and pre-fight weigh-ins. Many would think of tennis as one of the more progressive sports out there, and this draw party will have been seen as a blight on the sport.
The Next Gen ATP Finals begins on Tuesday, with the final taking place on Saturday 11 November. The winner will take home a prize pot of £960,000.