April 8, 2014 – .TENNIS Reconsideration Request. As we head to the peak of tennis season, with Wimbledon and the US Open in a few months, it would be nice to see the “Tennis Community” obtain their own gTLD for .TENNIS. Unfortunately, the applicant for .TENNIS failed to pass the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) – Scoring 11 out of 16 (needing 14 to pass). The problem? .TENNIS scored a zero (0) for “nexus.” That’s right, they were aced. In their Request for Reconsideration, which was just posted, the Applicant requests that the ICANN Board reconsider the decision pointing to some important support. To be sure, “Tennis” is a clearly delineated community with “straightforward membership definition and association with the game of tennis.”It’s intuitive; there is a tennis community with players, supporters and venues worldwide.As to nexus however, the Applicant failed to establish that the name of the string [the gTLD .TENNIS] matches the name of the community.Of course, .TENNIS matches (exactly) the “Tennis Community,” however the Applicant is Tennis Australia (think “Australian Open”) and does not represent the wider community – it is too narrow.The CPE panel correctly found that “.TENNIS refers to the sport and the global community of people/groups associated with it, and therefore does not refer specifically to the Tennis Australia community.”
This result seems straightforward, except that after it filed its Application for the new gTLD, Tennis Australia obtained “global” support from the International Tennis Federation, the USTA, the Federation Francaise de Tennis, All England Tennis & Croquet Club (which is Wimbledon), the Women’s Tennis Association, and the ATP Tour(representing essentially most, if not all of the Tennis Community).Under the rules, it appears that this widespread, global support, while extensive, does not fit the Applicant’s definition of “Community,” which is purely Australian focused.
It will be interesting to see what ICANN does with this request. Technically speaking, the Applicant fails CPE, but it has the support of the global tennis community. Had Tennis Australia drafted its answer to Question 20 in its Application to represent the broader community, the result may very well (indeed should have been different). In pertinent part, the Applicant identified the “community” by stating that “[t]hrough the .tennis TLD, Tennis Australia commits to serve the Australian tennis community, which is comprised of the eight Australian state-and territory-based Member Associations…” Q20(a). Thus, while there is stated global support for the .TENNIS string, the Application shows an Australian centric community, and may not be able to reconcile the language with the support.
It is a shame because the supporting organizations have the geographic scope and membership to justify community. The new gTLD program needs strong communities to pass CPE to provide true alternatives to the existing .COM model. .TENNIS seems to make sense, and its supporting members appear to have the widespread, global reach to establish “nexus.” Unfortunately, because Tennis Australia failed to understand “nexus” and include this global community in its Application definition, it, and the “Tennis Community” may end up losing this game, set and match.