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World Championship Tennis

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World Championship Tennis (WCT) was a tour for professional male tennis players established in 1968 (the first players signed a contract at the end of 1967) and lasted until the emergence of the ATP Tour in 1990. A number of tennis tournaments around the world were affiliated with WCT and players were ranked in a special WCT ranking according to their results in those tournaments.

The WCT had an important impact on the commercial development of tennis. It instituted a tie-breaker system, experimented the "no-ad" scoring system on 40-40 (called at times "sudden death") and outfitted players with colored clothing, a radical idea at that time. WCT also strongly encouraged the audience to cheer for players, rather than politely applaud, as the more staid tennis audiences had done before. They publicly emphasized their prize money structure and special bonus pool as an incentive to attract top players.


World Championship Tennis was founded in September 1967 by sports promoter David Dixon, who earlier witnessed the dreary conditions of the professional circuit before the open era when he visited a poorly promoted match between Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall.[1] In August of that year, he had presented his idea of a pro tennis tour to Lamar Hunt and Al Hill Jr., who agreed to invest.[2][3] WCT became the major professional tennis tour of players under contract of the early seventies.

After starting with the "Handsome Eight", the original eight players (Dennis Ralston, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Cliff Drysdale, Earl Buchholz, Niki Pilić, Roger Taylor and Pierre Barthès), the first WCT tournament was held in January 1968 in Sydney, Australia and used the VASSS scoring system. According to sportswriter Rod Humphries, this first event was a hastily organized tournament held in the parking lot of the Channel 7 television studios in Epping and was won by Tony Roche.[4] The first American WCT tournament was held in February 1968 in Kansas City, Missouri.[3][5][6] In March 1968 Hunt and Hill took over Dixon's 50% stake in WCT and Dixon left the organization. WCT took a loss of $300,000 during its first year of operation. Al Hill, Jr. became president of WCT.[7]

By early 1970, the WCT had signed other players (Marty Riessen, Ray Moore, Tom Okker, Arthur Ashe) and in July it acquired the player contracts of the other major professional organization, the National Tennis League (NTL), which had under contract players from the former professional group of Jack Kramer, namely Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Pancho Gonzáles as well as Andrés Gimeno, Roy Emerson, and Fred Stolle.[8]

In 1971, the WCT circuit grew to 21 tournaments around the globe.[9] In July 1971, at its annual meeting, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) voted to ban all WCT contract professionals from the ILTF tournaments and facilities from the beginning of 1972 onwards.[10] At the end of the 1971 WCT season, the top eight players from the season were seeded according to their WCT rankings and played a year-end championship tournament in November. This was held about two weeks before the similar championship of the rival Grand Prix circuit, called The Masters. For commercial reasons, from 1972 onward this championship, played on indoor carpet, was usually held in the spring in Dallas, Texas and became known as the WCT Finals. The tournament ran for 19 years and the last championship was held in 1989. The format for this event was adopted by the Association of Tennis Professionals for the year-end Tour Finals.

In April 1972 an agreement was reached between the ILTF and WCT that divided the 1973 tour in a WCT circuit that ran from January through May and a Grand Prix circuit that was scheduled for the rest of the year. Under this agreement WCT players were again allowed to play the Grand Prix tournaments.[11]

The WCT tour was merged into the Grand Prix tennis circuit in 1978. On 30 April 1981 WCT announced its withdrawal from the Grand Prix circuit and the establishment of its own full calendar season for 1982. According to Lamar Hunt the reasons for the withdrawal were the restrictions placed on them by the Men's Professional Council, the administrators of the Grand Prix circuit.[12] In January 1983, WCT sued the Men's International Professional Tennis Council (MIPTC), the Association of Tennis Professionals and the ITF, claiming unfair restriction of trade.[13] In November 1983 a settlement resulted in WCT's reincorporation into the Grand Prix with effect from 1985.[14]

1989 was the last season of WCT. The ATP established its own tennis circuit from 1990. On August 28, 1990, after the Tournament of Champions event at Forest Hills, WCT announced its dissolution.[15]

WCT also built and operated tennis clubs in the United States; WCT Lakeway World of Tennis in Lakeway (metro Austin), Texas and WCT Peachtree World of Tennis in Peachtree Corners (metro Atlanta), Georgia.[citation needed]

WCT by year[edit]

WCT 1968[edit]

WCT 1969[edit]

WCT 1970[edit]

WCT 1971[edit]

WCT 1972[edit]

WCT 1973[edit]

WCT 1974[edit]

WCT 1975[edit]

WCT 1976[edit]

WCT 1977[edit]

WCT 1982[edit]

WCT 1983[edit]

WCT 1984[edit]

WCT 1985[edit]

WCT tournaments returned to the Grand Prix stage after a three-year absence during 1982–84. There were only four events. The titles were split between Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, winning two each. While McEnroe entered into all four, Lendl played just two and won both. McEnroe won the WCT Houston title, beating Kevin Curren in the final.

The WCT Finals in Dallas saw the unexpected defeat of McEnroe in the quarterfinals by Joakim Nyström in three straight sets. The title was captured by Lendl, whose success completed a triplicate of titles in three weeks: Fort Myers on hard, Monte Carlo on clay and Dallas on the carpet. Other players have won three, even four, tournaments in successive weeks in the Open Era, but never on different surfaces.[citation needed]

In Atlanta, McEnroe won the final over Paul Annacone in three sets. The WCT Tournament of Champions in Forest Hills ended with much anticipated final between Lendl and McEnroe. Despite winning only two of his last 12 matches over McEnroe in ATP tournaments, Lendl beat McEnroe 6–3 6–3.

Nabisco Grand Prix
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Mar 3 Houston, USA WCT Houston Shoot-Out $300,000
United States John McEnroe d. South Africa Kevin Curren, 7–5, 6–1, 7–6 John McEnroe d. Peter Fleming, 6–4, 6–0
Kevin Curren d. Shahar Perkiss, 6–2, 6–2
April 14 Dallas, USA Buick WCT Finals $500,000
United States Ivan Lendl d. United States Tim Mayotte, 7–6, 6–4, 6–1 Ivan Lendl d. Jimmy Connors, 6–3, 2–1 ret.
Tim Mayotte d. Joakim Nyström, 6–4, 4–6, 6–2, 7–5
April 28 Atlanta, USA WCT Atlanta $300,000
United States John McEnroe d. United States Paul Annacone, 7–6, 7–6, 6–2 John McEnroe d. Mike Leach, 6–3, 6–3
Paul Annacone d. Kevin Curren, walkover
May 12 Forest Hills, USA Shearson Lehman Brothers Tournament of Champions $500,000
Clay (Har-Tru)
United States Ivan Lendl d. United States John McEnroe, 6–3, 6–3 Ivan Lendl d. Aaron Krickstein, 6–1, 2–6, 6–1
John McEnroe d. Henrik Sundström, 6–2, 3–6, 6–2

WCT 1986[edit]

The WCT Atlanta tournament was marked by early exits of top seeds Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker in the first round. Edberg lost to Mikael Pernfors, and Becker lost to Tim Wilkison. In Dallas, Anders Järryd was the unexpected winner, having replaced the injured Ivan Lendl in the 12-player draw.

Nabisco Grand Prix
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Apr 6 Atlanta, USA WCT Atlanta $220,000
United States Kevin Curren d. United States Tim Wilkison, 7–6, 7–6 Kevin Curren d. Brian Teacher, 6–4, 6–2
Tim Wilkison d. David Pate, 6–4, 2–6, 6–4
Apr 13 Dallas, USA Buick WCT Finals $500,000
Sweden Anders Järryd d. West Germany Boris Becker, 6–7, 6–1, 6–1, 6–4 Anders Järryd d. Mats Wilander, 6–4, 7–5, 6–3
Boris Becker d. Stefan Edberg 7–6, 7–6, 4–6, 7–6
May 11 Forest Hills, Queens, USA Shearson Lehman Brothers Tournament of Champions $500,000
Clay (Har-Tru)
France Yannick Noah d. Argentina Guillermo Vilas, 7–6, 6–0 Yannick Noah d. Ivan Lendl, 6–3, 7–5
Guillermo Vilas d. Martín Jaite, 6–3, 6–3
Oct 12 Scottsdale, USA WCT Scottsdale Open $220,000
United States John McEnroe d. United States Kevin Curren, 6–3, 3–6, 6–2 John McEnroe d. David Pate, 6–3, 6–3
Kevin Curren d. Todd Witsken, 7–5, 6–7, 6–4
Nov 23 Houston, USA WCT Houston Shoot-Out $220,000
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Živojinović d. United States Scott Davis, 6–1, 4–6, 6–3 Slobodan Živojinović d. Derrick Rostagno, 6–4, 6–4
Scott Davis d. Eliot Teltscher, 7–5, 6–4

WCT 1987[edit]

Nabisco Grand Prix
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Apr 12 Dallas, USA WCT Finals $500,000
Czechoslovakia Miloslav Mečíř d. United States John McEnroe, 6–0, 3–6, 6–2, 6–2 Miloslav Mečíř d. Andrés Gómez, 6–7, 7–6, 6–4, 6–2
John McEnroe d. Stefan Edberg, 7–6, 6–7, 7–6, 6–4
May 10 Forest Hills, USA Shearson Lehman Brothers Tournament of Champions $500,000
Clay (Har-Tru)
Ecuador Andrés Gómez d. France Yannick Noah, 6–4, 7–6, 7–6 Andrés Gómez d. Boris Becker, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3
Yannick Noah d. Slobodan Živojinović, 6–3, 7–5
Oct 11 Scottsdale, USA WCT Scottsdale Open $232,000
United States Brad Gilbert d. United States Eliot Teltscher, 6–2, 6–2 Brad Gilbert d. Michael Chang 6–3, 6–4
Eliot Teltscher d. David Pate 7–6, 7–5

WCT 1988[edit]

Nabisco Grand Prix
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Apr 3 Dallas, USA WCT Finals $500,000
West Germany Boris Becker d. Sweden Stefan Edberg, 6–4, 1–6, 7–5, 6–2 Boris Becker d. Brad Gilbert, 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
Stefan Edberg d. Yannick Noah, 6–2, 4–6, 6–3, 6–3
May 8 Forest Hills, USA Eagle Tournament of Champions $485,000
Clay (Har-Tru)
United States Andre Agassi d. Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Slobodan Živojinović, 7–5, 7–6, 7–5 Andre Agassi d. Aaron Krickstein, 6–3, 6–3
Slobodan Živojinović d. Luiz Mattar, 7–6, 6–3
Oct 9 Scottsdale, USA WCT Eagle Classic $297,000
Sweden Mikael Pernfors d. United States Glenn Layendecker, 6–2, 6–4 Mikael Pernfors d. Kevin Curren, 4–6, 6–2, 6–3
Glenn Layendecker d. Jim Pugh, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1

WCT 1989[edit]

1989 was the final year of the WCT tour. Only three events were organized, all of them were incorporated into the Nabisco Grand Prix and gaining ATP ranking points.

At the 19th (and last) WCT Finals in Reunion Arena, John McEnroe won his fifth Dallas title. His semifinal with Ivan Lendl produced the best match of the tournament, and McEnroe beat Lendl for the first time in over three years. The tournament was negatively impacted by the withdrawals of Boris Becker (who did not appear at all) and Andre Agassi (walking off the court during a second set match with McEnroe). Brad Gilbert entered the event to fill the gap for Becker and surprisingly made it to the final. Later in spring, Lendl captured last two WCT titles in Scottsdale and Forest Hills[16] to close the WCT era.

Nabisco Grand Prix
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Mar 5 Dallas, USA WCT Finals $500,000
United States John McEnroe d. United States Brad Gilbert, 6–3, 6–3, 7–6 John McEnroe d. Ivan Lendl, 6–7, 7–6, 6–2, 7–5
Brad Gilbert d. Mikael Pernfors, 6–3, 6–7, 6–3, 6–3
Mar 12 Scottsdale, USA WCT Eagle Classic $297,000
Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl d. Sweden Stefan Edberg, 6–2, 6–3 Ivan Lendl d. Emilio Sánchez, 6–2, 3–6, 6–3
Stefan Edberg d. Amos Mansdorf, 6–7, 6–4, 6–1
May 8 Forest Hills, USA Eagle Tournament of Champions $485,000
Clay (Har-Tru)
Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl d. Peru Jaime Yzaga, 6–2, 6–1 Ivan Lendl d. Andre Agassi, 6–2, 6–3
Jaime Yzaga d. Michael Chang, 6–4, 6–3

WCT 1990[edit]

There was no WCT tour in 1990, when the ATP established its own circuit named the ATP Tour, however there was one (final) tournament sanctioned by WCT.[15] The Forest Hills WCT at West Side Tennis Club was moved from green clay to hardcourts and run as special non-ATP Tour event. Ivan Lendl stamped his WCT dominance winning the last title.

Special event
Date Location Tournament Prize Money/
Final Semifinals
Aug 26 Forest Hills, USA WCT Tournament of Champions $500,000
Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl d. United States Aaron Krickstein, 6–4, 6–7, 6–3 Ivan Lendl d. Henri Leconte, 6–7, 6–3, 6–1,

WCT Year-end Championship Finals[edit]

The WCT Finals were usually held in Dallas. The 1971 quarterfinals and semifinals were played in Houston, and the final was played at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas. The 1972–1979 editions were played at the Moody Coliseum, and the 1980–1989 tournaments at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

The first edition of the WCT Finals in 1971 was played in November, just a few days before The Masters, the equivalent of the WCT Finals for the rival Grand Prix circuit. Because of TV pressure, the second edition was held in May 1972 and most of the following editions were organized in between months of March and May. Nevertheless, in 1972 another edition, less important and with half the prize money, was held in November in Rome. The prize money offered to the winner, Arthur Ashe, was $25,000 compared to the $50,000 won by Ken Rosewall for the main edition in May.

A decade later there were three editions of the WCT Finals; the most important one in Dallas, and the others in autumn in Naples, Italy, and in winter (in January 1983) in Detroit, Michigan.

Year Champion Runner-up Score
1971 Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Rod Laver 6–4, 1–6, 7–6(7–3), 7–6(7–4)
1972 Australia Ken Rosewall Australia Rod Laver 4–6, 6–0, 6–3, 6–7, 7–6
1972 winter (Rome) United States Arthur Ashe United States Bob Lutz 6–2, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 7–6
1973 United States Stan Smith United States Arthur Ashe 6–3, 6–3, 4–6, 6–4
1974 Australia John Newcombe Sweden Björn Borg 4–6, 6–3, 6–3, 6–2
1975 United States Arthur Ashe Sweden Björn Borg 3–6, 6–4, 6–4, 6–0
1976 Sweden Björn Borg Argentina Guillermo Vilas 1–6, 6–1, 7–5, 6–1
1977 United States Jimmy Connors United States Dick Stockton 6–7, 6–1, 6–4, 6–3
1978 United States Vitas Gerulaitis United States Eddie Dibbs 6–3, 6–2, 6–1
1979 United States John McEnroe Sweden Björn Borg 7–5, 4–6, 6–2, 7–6
1980 United States Jimmy Connors United States John McEnroe 2–6, 7–6, 6–1, 6–2
1981 United States John McEnroe South Africa Johan Kriek 6–1, 6–2, 6–4
1982 Czech Republic Ivan Lendl United States John McEnroe 6–2, 3–6, 6–3, 6–3
1982 fall (Naples) Czech Republic Ivan Lendl Poland Wojciech Fibak 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
1982 winter (Detroit) Czech Republic Ivan Lendl Argentina Guillermo Vilas 7–5, 6–2, 2–6, 6–4
1983 United States John McEnroe Czech Republic Ivan Lendl 6–2, 4–6, 6–3, 6–7, 7–6
1984 United States John McEnroe United States Jimmy Connors 6–1, 6–2, 6–3
1985 Czech Republic Ivan Lendl United States Tim Mayotte 7–6, 6–4, 6–1
1986 Sweden Anders Järryd West Germany Boris Becker 6–7, 6–1, 6–1, 6–4
1987 Czechoslovakia Miloslav Mečíř United States John McEnroe 6–0, 3–6, 6–2, 6–2
1988 West Germany Boris Becker Sweden Stefan Edberg 6–4, 1–6, 7–5, 6–2
1989 United States John McEnroe United States Brad Gilbert 6–3, 6–3, 7–6

WCT final rankings by year[edit]


  1. Australia R. Laver
  2. Netherlands T. Okker
  3. Australia K. Rosewall
  4. South Africa C. Drysdale
  5. United States A. Ashe
  6. Australia J. Newcombe
  7. United States M. Riessen
  8. United States B. Lutz
  9. Australia R. Emerson
  10. Spain A. Gimeno


One ranking was issued for the second part of 1971 and first part of 1972, and another for the second part of 1972 final standings. The first eight players in the second ranking played the 1972 autumn-winter WCT Finals held in Rome.


The players were separated into two groups, A & B, with each group playing certain tournaments. The top 4 from each group qualified for the final at the end of the season.[17]


The group was divided into three groups, Red, Blue, and Green and the top 8 points winners qualified for the final (marked with*): 2 players by group plus the other two players having most points. Each group played separate tournaments except the Philadelphia tournament at the start of the season.


The group was divided into three groups again, Red, Blue, and Green and the top 8 points winners qualified for the final (marked with *). Each group played separate tournaments except the Philadelphia tournament at the start of the season.

1976–1983: All the players were put back together and played the same tournaments.


WCT expanded from the previous year and broke away from the Grand Prix for the year. There were three finals, Spring (Dallas) the most important one, Fall (Naples, Italy) and Winter (Detroit) and therefore three different points tables for each season:[21]


There were only 9 tournaments and the WCT were back with the Grand Prix circuit.

  1. Czechoslovakia I. Lendl
  2. United States J. McEnroe
  3. Argentina G. Vilas
  4. United States V. Gerulaitis
  5. Argentina J. L. Clerc
  6. Australia P. McNamee
  7. Czechoslovakia T. Šmíd
  8. Poland W. Fibak
  9. Hungary B. Taróczy
  10. United States B. Scanlon

WCT Challenge Cup[edit]

Some special events such as the Aetna World Cup (where the Australian pros and the US pros faced in a team event because in 1970, at the start of this event, contract pro players weren't allowed to enter the Davis Cup) or the Challenge Cup (an 8-man tournament) were held by the WCT organization.

List of WCT Challenge Cup winners[edit]

  • 1976 – Honolulu – Ilie Năstase defeated Arthur Ashe, 6–3, 1–6, 6–7, 6–3, 6–1
  • 1976/7 – Las Vegas – Ilie Năstase defeated Jimmy Connors, 3–6, 7–6, 6–4, 7–5
  • 1977 – Las Vegas – Jimmy Connors defeated Roscoe Tanner, 6–2, 5–6, 3–6, 6–2, 6–5
  • 1978 – Montego Bay – Ilie Năstase defeated Peter Fleming, 2–6, 5–6, 6–2, 6–4, 6–4
  • 1979 – Montreal – Björn Borg defeated Jimmy Connors, 6–4, 6–2, 2–6, 6–4
  • 1980 – Montreal – John McEnroe defeated Vijay Amritraj, 6–1, 6–2, 6–

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1971). World of Tennis 1971. London: Queen Anne Press. pp. 141–144. ISBN 978-0362000917.
  2. ^ "Hunt gains breakthrough with TV tennis contract". The Windsor Star. November 4, 1971 – via Google News Archive.
  3. ^ a b Tom Koch (March 1988). "It Was 20 Years Ago Today". D Magazine.
  4. ^ "Roche at Top Form in Final" Sydney Morning Herald, January 26, 1968. Page 12
  5. ^ Frank Deford (February 12, 1968). "Now Tennis Goes Mod". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 28, no. 6. pp. 12–15.
  6. ^ "Tennis Amateur Says Wage Runs About $9,600 a Year". Lawrence Journal-World. AP. January 4, 1968. p. Eleven.
  7. ^ Bob Briner; Frank Deford (April 19, 1971). "But It Looked Like A Great New Racket". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 34, no. 16. pp. 56–64.
  8. ^ "Lamar Hunt obtains six pro tennis stars". Eugene Register-Guard. July 29, 1970. p. 2D – via Google News Archive.
  9. ^ Wind, Herbert Warren (1979). Game, Set, and Match : The Tennis Boom of the 1960s and 70s (1. ed.). New York: Dutton. pp. 65–70. ISBN 0525111409.
  10. ^ Bud Collins (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). New York: New Chapter Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0942257700.
  11. ^ "ITF – History". International Tennis Federation (ITF).
  12. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1982). World of Tennis 1982. London: Queen Anne Press. pp. 167–177. ISBN 0356085961.
  13. ^ Curry Kirkpatrick (May 16, 1983). "And Suddenly He's A Man Of Clay". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 58, no. 20. pp. 40–47.
  14. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1984). World of Tennis 1984. London: Willow Books. p. 11. ISBN 9780002181228.
  15. ^ a b "W.C.T. Out of Business". The New York Times. August 28, 1990.
  16. ^ "Some Changes At Forest Hills". The New York Times. April 29, 1989.
  17. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1974). World of Tennis '74. London: Queen Anne Press. pp. 167, 168. ISBN 978-0362001679.
  18. ^ World of tennis 1977 : a BP yearbook. London: Macdonald & Jane's. 1977. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-354-09010-0.
  19. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1980). World of Tennis 1980. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780362020120.
  20. ^ Tingay, Lance; Barrett, John; International Tennis Federation (1982). Slazengers world of tennis 1982 : the official yearbook of the International Tennis Federation. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-356-08596-8.
  21. ^ Slazengers world of tennis. 1983. London: Queen Anne Press. 1983. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-356-09383-3.

External links[edit]