ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge has confirmed that he will be stepping down from his current role at the end of March.
Budge has been in the role for nine years, during which time he has led the tennis tournament through a period of unprecedented growth in terms of attendance, revenue, and international coverage, and transformed the ASB Classic into the must attend event on the Auckland social calendar.
During his time at the helm, tennis fans have seen some of the biggest names in world sport take to centre court at the ASB Tennis Arena, including Ana Ivanovic, Juan Martin del Porto, Venus Williams, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka and 2020 champion Serena Williams.
It’s a role that Budge is going to find hard to leave behind.
“It’s been an absolute privilege working on the ASB Classic bringing one of New Zealand’s favourite events to life for the past eight summers,” Budge said.
“There have been a lot of highs, as well as some very challenging days, and I feel honored to have been able to work on behalf of the sporting public to bring some of the biggest names in world sport to Auckland.”
Budge believes the timing was right to hand over the reins.
“The ASB Classic has established itself as one of the best stops on both the WTA and ATP Tours. We have incredible support from sponsors and our passionate fans, of which I will now become one, and I eagerly await the return of the ASB Classic in 2022.”
The 2021 tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19 and the implication of international travel and quarantine for international players.
Tennis Auckland has reaffirmed that planning will continue for an ASB Classic in 2022 and are working with both Tours, sponsors and key stakeholders on planning.