Skip to content

Ziv to succeed Downey as Tennis Canada's chief executive officer

Tennis Canada is promoting from within for its chief executive officer position. Tennis Canada chief executive Michael Downey speaks to the media at their year end news conference in Montreal, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

TORONTO — Gavin Ziv's journey at Tennis Canada started when he was a ballkid in 1987. It set him on a path that has led him to the top job at the national sport organization. 

Ziv, who currently serves as senior vice-president and chief tournaments officer, will become chief executive officer in late fall, Tennis Canada announced Tuesday. 

He'll succeed the retiring Michael Downey in the position.

"As I sit here today, a dream has been realized," Ziv said on a video call. "Tennis, and specifically Canadian tennis, has been woven into the fabric of my life and this organization holds a special place in my heart."

Downey, who spent 15 years — over two terms — as CEO, is set to retire on Dec. 31. He announced his retirement plans last February.

Since Downey first took the job in 2004, Canadian tennis has enjoyed several strong years at the elite level. Some of the more notable achievements were Bianca Andreescu's U.S. Open women's singles title in 2019 and the Canadian men's team's first-ever Davis Cup crown last fall.

"We have become a world-leading tennis nation under Michael’s excellent stewardship and I look forward to building upon his legacy by mapping out the best possible future for our sport in Canada," Ziv said. 

"Together with the Tennis Canada board and our passionate staff we will continue to raise the bar on winning, elevate the fan experience by being digital-first, provide broader access to year-round facilities and create a safe and inclusive environment for all."

Ziv has spearheaded the annual ATP and WTA 1000 National Bank Open tournaments in Toronto and Montreal. He also led Canadian negotiations to secure equal prize money for WTA players at the tournament starting in 2027.

Ziv played an integral part in negotiating the agreement for the expansion of the ATP/WTA 1000 events from seven days to a 12-day format by 2025. He's also the first Tennis Canada executive to concurrently sit on both the WTA and ATP boards.

"I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to steer the Tennis Canada ship into the future," Downey said in a release. "Gavin knows the business inside out and has spent 25 years working passionately for the greater good of our sport. 

"Most recently, he crafted our five-year strategic plan and 10-year revenue forecast for the National Bank Opens. I have every confidence that with Gavin at the helm, Tennis Canada will continue to reach new heights.”

After spending his early days as part of the ball crew committee, Ziv, 48, joined Tennis Canada as a marketing intern in 1998 and was coordinator of national events through 2001.

"I knew then that there was no better company to join if I wanted to make a difference in Canadian tennis," he said.

Ziv also served as Canadian Open operations manager and director/tournament manager of professional and national events. He was named NBO chief tournaments officer last October.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

Looking for National Sports News? viewed on a mobile phone

Check out Village Report - the news that matters most to Canada, updated throughout the day.  Or, subscribe to Village Report's free daily newsletter: a compilation of the news you need to know, sent to your inbox at 6AM.