After an independent analysis was conducted by the ITF Pro Circuit, in 2013 – 2014, it was shown that only 250 to 350 men and women were breaking even professionally from the prize money on offer. Out of 14,000. (Link below)
As a governing body for international players, who are trying to become professionals, does the ITF deliver on providing the right opportunities for all to advance their careers? Or, is it just the playground for the few and privileged?
Having conducted at least a hundred tournaments over the years, ITL can say that if a player is given a chance to play consistently over a set period of time in a location close to them, they will improve and advance. This is a fact.
Many kids who have played in our league are today ranked in the top 100 to 200 on the national rankings, from all the tournaments that local academies do using their structure. In part they were able to do so by playing event after event locally, fine tuning their skill along the way. Losing, fighting and finally winning.
Similarly, if the ITF provides avenues for clubs and academies to conduct tournaments in close proximity to them chances are they too will improve and advance. Even if 1 player comes out of a 100, it’s still a step forward to make tennis more inclusive and global.
The current state, and history, of ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments in India is as below:
ITF World Tennis Tour – MEN
Historical events and prize money allocation over time for the Men’s tour.
ITF World Tennis Tour – WOMEN
Historical events and prize money allocation over time for the women’s tour. More consistent than the men’s side, but 2019 looks like it’s not going to be much happening for our women pro players as well.
So where does this leave Indian junior players who have just finished their 18th year and are looking to try their skill on the pro level? Where will they compete?
Qualifying Draw Size and Points
When the new World Tennis Tour system had been implemented the qualifying draw size was reduced to 24 from 32, 48 and even 128.
Thankfully, due to player and foreign association pressure some changes have been made and it has been put back to a qualifying draw size of 32. Which means now 8 players, instead of 6, will qualify for the main draw.
But the biggest dilemma facing players is the ridiculous system of removing ATP/WTA points from the ITF tour almost completely. Only when you get to the finals are you awarded points!
Playing a $15,000 ITF tournament for points is next to useless, as they only award ITF Ranking Points. Which nobody understands the purpose of yet. (Link Below)
The Future of Tennis
As of now it’s very hard to predict what will happen with the current tour structure and how it will impact the tennis world in general. A lot of associations around the world are pressuring the ITF to make considerations and amend these new rules.
Hope is not lost, there’s nothing that time and pressure cannot change.
The best part at present is that some people, like Toni Nadal, are making their voices heard and letting the ITF know that they can still make it all better. Let the kids, journeymen and women play their tennis, let them grind their efforts on the court and be appropriately awarded for their hard work.
What you can do right now is write to your association and tell them that you would like them to represent your voice to the ITF, in making tennis more accessible to our kids, and future generations to come.
We care about what happens and have done our part by letting you know and will actively work towards creating more awareness, the ball is now in your court.