Sydney lawyer Stephen Healy was elected the new president of Tennis Australia in a secret ballot held on Monday morning.
Healy succeeds the retiring Geoff Pollard, who has held the position since 1989.
Healy, the Tennis NSW president, beat former Australian Open director Paul McNamee in the ballot.
Healy congratulated McNamee on his campaign and said he was looking forward to working with Pollard in a hand-over phase over the next six months.
“I am excited about the appointing and leading tennis in Australia,” Healy said.
“There are many challenges and issues that need to be addressed if we are to appeal more to the community and if we are to produce champions.”
Healy’s challenges include ending the in-fighting in Australian tennis ranks, boosting participation at club and junior level and getting a better representation among the world’s elite players.
Australia has just Lleyton Hewitt (ranked 32 in the world) and Peter Luczak (73) in the top 100 in the men’s rankings, while Samantha Stosur (No.10) has only Anastasia Rodionova (96) and Alicia Molik (97) for company in the top 100 in the women’s.
“It is possible for us to do a lot better, no question,” said Healy, who will resign from his position as Tennis NSW president to concentrate on the top job.
“It is a very competitive world game, there’s 160 countries trying to squeeze players into the top 10 or 20.
“It’s different to what it once was back in our glory days of the `50s and `60s, but I think we can genuinely expect to have more players up there.
“I think the strength of Australian tennis has always been where a group of players come along and they pull each other up.
“At the moment in the juniors there is a really outstanding crop and that’s what I hope is going to happen in the next three to five years.”
Healy said he was excited about working to address Australia’s slide, and said the issues of a shortage of elite players and finding more aspiring juniors were linked.
“You could argue which end drives the other end, whether it’s participation driving player development, but my personal view (is) if you have players at the very top level and you have role models for the kids it drives participation,” he said.
Healy planned to invite discussion among former players, tennis officials and coaches in a bid to unify the sport, and would approach overseas-based coaches in a bid to lure them home.
He said tennis also had to do better at encouraging the thousands of people who supported the Australian Open every year to pick up a racquet themselves.