Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - TW Roadmap Exclusive!
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
TW Roadmap Exclusive! 03/12/2007 - 11:11 PM

(Okay, I know you want to know what happened at Indian Wells today, but I felt I had to write this very important, exclusive story having to do with the WTA Roadmap for 2010. I'll return to on-the-ground reporting from Indian Wells tomorrow. Pete)

The WTA is scheduled to announce details of its Roadmap 2010 v. 2.0 at the Sony Ericsson Open on Key Biscayne in a little over two weeks. But the real question behind this exercise is one any cartographer ought to understand: where exactly does this Roadmap lead the game at a critical and somewhat chaotic time. Wherever the game ends up, the journey is proving a pretty rough ride. Just how rough should be amply demonstrated by the contents of a memo I recently obtained, which presumably was sent to the WTA by the USTA.Roadmap2

In this document, the USTA very explicitly spells out its immediate concerns with the way the Roadmap is shaping up, but before we get into the details, a little background is in order. Back in the day, before the advent of Open tennis, the Grand Slam events were pre-eminent (as they still are), and most of the rest of the tournaments formed a loosely organized “circuit” built around each of the majors.

With Open tennis, a new frontier every bit as wild as the American West in the mid-to-late 19th Century opened up, and the calendar quickly filled up with a full-menu of tournaments, incorporating the old model but also putting it under some stress as entrepreneurs and sponsors rushed in to take advantage of the boom. This sowed the seeds of today’s chaotic, conflicted, overbooked schedule, on which the most viable (and often most healthy) fixtures remain the ones that serve as tune-ups for majors.

The other great upheaval occurred in tennis politics. Shortly after the dawn of Open tennis, the men formed the ATP Player’s Association, and the women formed their own tour and founded the counterpart to the ATP, the WTA. For most of the 1970s and 80s, the game was governed by a Pro Council, consisting of representatives from the players, the tournaments, and the ITF. The overlord of this 9-member board during its heyday was the PC’s chief administrator, M. Marshall Happer III – the closest thing tennis has ever had to a “commissioner.” The Pro Council was effectively demolished by the ATP revolution of 1988, at which time the players decided to take control of the men’s pro game, forming a partnership with tournaments. This aligned two key interests, but it also meant, in effect, that the ATP pros no longer had a classic player’s union. Since that major makeover, things have chugged along pretty much unchanged.

Now, let’s get to this document. The source of the USTA’s grievance with the emerging Roadmap is that it poses a direct threat to the US Open Series, which in just two years has had a quantifiable, positive impact on the popularity of the game. As Arlen Kantarian, the CEO of the USTA’s pro tennis division, recently told me, “We’re the national governing body of U.S.tennis, so I don’t really see this as an insupportably selfish point of view. I also believe that if tennis grows in the U.S., it also grows, globally. Let’s face it, we do have an impact as a nation.”

This seems undeniable. As much as the U.S is criticized and even reviled these days, there’s a reason that French kids are wandering around in flip-flops and belly jeans, and that the NBA has made huge inroads on the international sporting scene. So it was with tennis: The tennis boom was ignited in the U.S., and the world jumped on the bandwagon. Today, the U.S. is in danger of being eclipsed, and while America-bashers gloat over that, the decline of the game in the U.S. could trigger a domino effect that results in the rest of the world saying, “Tennis isn’t cool, nobody in America cares about it.”

Kantarian likes to point out that back in the 1980s, the women had over 20 tournaments in the U.S, and between 10 and 15 in Europe. The game was going great guns. By his count, in 2006 Europe hosted 25 women’s events while the U.S. had dropped down to 11. The WTA Roadmap (keep in mind that this has been a liquid document) brings the number of viable U.S. events down to as few as 5.

Kantarian feels this amount of shrinkage is unacceptable; among other things, it threatens to wipe out the two spring U.S. clay-court events, which have been popular with women who wanted to do some of their training for Roland Garros in the U.S. before making the trip to Europe. And a fair number of non-U.S. players choose to live and train in the states.

Under the proposed Roadmap, a small group of 9 elite “Global” and 11 “National” tournaments would combine to form a body of “A-level” (think Tier I) events. The top women would have to commit to playing 11 events (two down from the current 13). In a telephone conversation about a week ago, WTA CEO Larry Scott told me that he felt this was a number that would protect the health of the top players, and discourage the withdrawals that have recently plagued the tour. But Global events would be guaranteed an impressive number of top players (7of the Top 10), while National (and lower) ones would have far more restricted access to top talent (2 of the top 6, or 3 of the Top 13).

In addition, lesser events would have to pay to play: in the event that more than the basic, guaranteed number of marquee players decided to enter (that is, if someone like Maria Sharapova  wanted to enter a National event that wasn’t on her original short list of 11 commitments), the tournament would have to pony up an additional $800,000 in prize money on short notice (while being unable to capitalize on Sharapova’s last-minute entry).

The main problem for the USTA is that no USTA-run tournaments applied to become an “A” event, mostly because of the financial burden. And other aspects of the proposed commitment system are seen as presenting further threats to U.S. events. So let’s look at the “Outstanding Issues” the USTA addressed in its letter to Scott (The points are direct lifts from the document; the explanation is my paraphrase).

Roadmap1

1 – Restriction on Player Participation. If a top player wants to add a National event to her schedule, the tournament will have to increase its prize money by $800,000 (nearly double). And the Roadmap also demands an additional $1 million for each marquee player in excess of 3. The USTA letter claims that in a conference call, even WTA officials agreed that the formula had “no basis in reality,” meaning that the USTA feels the WTA put it forth knowing that it was financially impossible to implement. But the bottom line is that it also amounts to the WTA telling top players that they can’t play an event they may want to enter because two of the top six players are already on board.

2 – Failure to Deliver Player Commitment. While the WTA wants to charge a National event $800,000 for receiving one additional top player, the liability on the WTA’s part if it fails to deliver one of the players it promised is a piddling $25,000. The USTA feels the penalty is inadequate, and makes a statement about the WTA’s confidence in its own system.

3 – Restrictions on Players Unable to Play in Global Tournaments. The USTA supports withdrawal penalties (Scott told me that those penalties will increase dramatically under the Roadmap), but it isn’t comfortable with proposed punitive action that would prevent players from entering subsequent tournaments (in effect, the WTA is proposing short-term suspensions). The USTA is concerned that the new punitive system might throw the baby of player participation out with the bathwater of broken commitment.

4 – Draw Sizes. The USTA does not believe that New Haven, which is played the week before the U.S. Open, can have a 32 or 56 draw, as that would demand a marquee player to play 5 singles matches in 6 days, right before the main event at Flushing Meadow. This means players will skip the event or quit before the end of the event. The USTA wants New Haven to have a draw of 28 (eliminating a round, with byes, from the 32 draw format).

The organization also believes that 56-draw events, while creating more jobs, contribute to player fatigue. Kantarian believes that the most attractive and viable format for tennis is combined (men and women), 32-draw, one-week events. It is also the one television broadcasters like best and, like it or not, in the present era television is the main driver of any sport’s popularity.

5 – Summer Combined Tournaments. The USTA is aggressively promoting combined events, and it wants the 2009 (and beyond) calendar to offer a definite, three-year schedule featuring additional combined events. The document says: “Combined tournaments are important to the growth of tennis in the United State and they appeal to broadcasters, sponsors, players and the media. . . Without this certainty (a three-year calendar), our partners (sponsors and television) have little basis for continuing their investment in our tournaments.”

6 – U.S. Clay Court Season. While Charleston has been assured a calendar slot, the USTA feels that it must promote two significant clay-court events, something that the Roadmap has no provisions for at the moment.

7 – Economically Viable Tournaments/Prize Money Levels. The USTA believes that the Roadmap calls for significant prize money increases that cannot be supported without additional revenue from the WTA. For instance, the WTA wants Indian Wells to increase its women’s prize money by $1.9 million (to $4.5 million, to match the prize money proposed by the ATP).The USTA feels that the WTA should make a commensurate contribution (in the way of sponsorship, television rights, etc.). Backstory: tournaments feel they have inadequate ownership “rights” – i.e., the WTA is taking too little risk, making too many demands, and taking too much money.

Okay, so what does all this mean?

Well, right now, nobody knows who will end up being part of the elite A level. The biggest concern is that the events will go to those who make the WTA the best offer. But let’s take the overview, keeping in mind the background. Tennis is currently in the midst of one of those  “the more things change, the more they remain the same” scenarios. That is, the USTA and its allies are moving very close to embracing and promoting the original tennis model, based on combined events and circuits build around the Grand Slam events.

However you feel about the issues, the old complaint that the Lords of Tennis (the executives at the Grand Slams) care only about their own, blue-chip properties has been shattered. Kantarian, that NFL veteran and television-conscious, hard-charging administrator is far more old school than he may know. The U.S. Open Series has shown that a rising tide lifts all boats, and this isn't just a pro-American viewpoint. There’s nothing wrong with the French Open Series (aka, clay-court circuit) either.

Maybe it’s time for the women to think less about going it on their own and more about creating a closer partnership with the ATP and Grand Slams. The 1970s are over. There appears to be only one major obstacle for the men and women working together again, and it isn’t prize-money equality. It’s the increasing power and importance of the tour sponsor. The most serious criticism you can level at the WTA is that the it’s chasing the money, perhaps under pressure to please its partner (currently, Sony-Ericsson), rather than taking the long view of growing the game.

Here’s a concrete example of why this is dangerous: A company that wants to achieve, say, 2 per cent penetration of an emerging market in, say, China, knows that sponsoring a big tennis tournament featuring Sharapova-grade celebrity/players is a can’t miss investment. Television is a lock, so is deep media coverage, if only in that market – which happens to be the only market the sponsor cares about.
Keep in mind that the company has not nearly the same guarantee in a developed, media-saturated market, or in one that, for any number of reasons, isn’t on the company’s radar. If you’re more interested in selling computers in
New Zealand than cell phones in the U.S., it only makes sense that you would pour your sponsorship dollars into New Zealand.

But marketing needs are ever shifting, and sponsors have no vested interest in tennis per se. Depending on the market, tennis is either a sponsorship bargain or a tough sell. It’s easier to chase the money; there’s no doubt about that.

Many years ago, I traveled to China with Michael Chang, where he was playing in the first-ever ATP Tour event in Beijing (sponsored by Salem cigarettes). The tournament set-up and facilities were crude and the local people were unable to afford tickets, even though Chang had demi-god status. The event was televised in Asia. It was a great personal moment for Chang, and a great investment by the makers of Salem. But did it represent a net gain for tennis?  The model was both unsustainable and, ultimately, of little long-term interest to Salem. However, it did at least have some proportionality: It was a minor, fall event – a decent vehicle for trying to cultivate a new tennis audience.

The biggest concern about the Roadmap is that it will divert important resources from the places where tennis has established a track record for popularity and accessibility, or simply price those places out of the market, as the WTA sells the game to the highest bidder. The WTA should think less about the needs of its title sponsor than the emerging opportunity to strike new partnerships with the ATP and the Grand Slam events, for the long-term reconstruction of a game built around the Grand Slams and combined events.

Any politician can tell you what happens when you ignore the base, but more importantly, a rising tide lifts all the boats, no matter where they are moored, or whose flags they fly under.


49
Comments
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 03/12/2007 at 11:26 PM

What a post. Thank anyone you wish that we have a chance to weight in on this thanks to Pete.

What in the world is the WTA thinking? Has Larry Scott ever been to Indian Wells? Say what you want about the ATP, but the mandatory entry system at the Masters series level has, I believe, proved its worth.

This business of guaranteeing "7 of the top 10" or whatever is no step forward in any sense of the word. Unless there is a machiavellian brillantly structured long term plan to first wipe out the smaller tournaments, and only then figure out which ones are the true "tour" this won't help anything.

Perhaps the average fan has never been bored enough to wade through the WTAs current player commitment rules, but this business of having some players play a series of tournaments is exactly what is going on now, and is exactly why the Indian Wells field is not as deep on the WTA side as Miami.

The fans have proven over time that they want all the players at the tournaments if possible. The ATP has proven that you can get this together, more or less, for about 13 weeks out of the year, and that is with relatively bogus scheduling.

It has also been proven that any tournament which does not have all the top players, and as a result pays guarantees to a couple, is basically a glorified exhibition week and sooner or later everyone realizes it.

Based upon this summary, the Roadmap is nothing more than a bit of public jokeying for postition by a bunch of tournament directors which normally takes place behind closed doors.

It does not look very good out in the open.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 03/12/2007 at 11:38 PM

Sorry for the double post, but this is what happens when you are an amateur.

So, if the 9 Globals are really the WTA Masters series (but without all the top players), are the next 11, or the "Nationals" basically the tournaments which are now paying appearance fees? Is the $800K in place of the appearance fee?

What sane tournament director pays $800K for a "top" player?

Its insanity. Why in the world would any "National" tournament director ever agree to this? Where would the additional $800K come from, anyway?

Damn, I could get the answers to this at the Beer Hunter in a couple of hours, but its too far away! So close, but yet so far!

Posted by Aaress 03/12/2007 at 11:41 PM

Pete, your coverage of IW has been great, but thanks so much for taking the time to address the Roadmap.

Fans have barely heard a peep out of the WTA Tour about this since Larry Scott announced that he was upping the time-frame for the Roadmap last fall, and after reading your post, it's no suprise that the WTA is not wanting to shout these morbid details off the rooftops.

Yes Sony Ericsson pays the bills, but the Tour is selling itself down the tubes in efforts of promoting the game in places that fork up the dough, if not the dedicated fans. Your example of Michael Chang was the perfect example.

You mentioned that Charleston will probably escape the chopping block - any news on Amelie Island or Los Angeles? I know the Acura Classic is leaving La Costa after this season, so could it possibly become part of a combined event in Cincinnati?

Posted by Pete 03/12/2007 at 11:48 PM

Thanks, DM, Aaress . .. I forgot to write in the post that I don't understand why the ATP and WTA don't just adopt mirror-image Masters Series type formats - as Dunlop points out. I am part of a round table with Larry Scott here tomorrow morning and will broach that subject. It doesn't really seeem like rocket science, does it?

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 03/12/2007 at 11:54 PM

Pete,

Not rocket science indeed, other than the fact that every single proposal is not "a proposal" in the sense that, say, inter-league play in American Major League Baseball is a proposal, but what is really going on is a negotiation between, in this case, probably over 20 tournaments, each represented by a tournament director, none of which have much interest in each other.

Given the history, I must confess that I was simply not paying attention when the ATP made the Masters Series mandatory entry.

Did the other tournaments flip out? How did the ATP cram it down?

Posted by marieg 03/12/2007 at 11:54 PM

yup, I agree more combined events with equal coverage on ATP and WTA and with Grand Slams and of course the Davis and Fed Cups as focal points. Here in Asia they only show the ATP matches of the Indian Wells; this goes to show how the WTA needs more work in their broadcasting sponsors.

Posted by Aaress 03/13/2007 at 12:13 AM

Definitely not rocket science Pete and one of the most "logical" solutions to the problem. Thankfully the round-robin imploded or else I could see Scott and the rest of the honchos trying to test it out on the WTA circuit in hopes of getting rid of player withdrawals.

I'm sitting on the fence regarding sanctions, but I concur that something more extreme has to be done. Fining any member of the top five or ten $40,000 is hardly going to keep them from pulling out whenever it suits their fancy.

One of the scariest features of the new Roadmap is the $800,000 entry fee for National events.

The top players frequently enter tournaments at the last minute after a tough loss and the thought of a event having to fork up almost a million dollars just to have a headliner with no advance notice or ticket profitability is ridiculous.

Posted by GSte 03/13/2007 at 12:19 AM

Thanks for the post Pete. I agree with everyone in saying that one of the easiest solutions is that the WTA should make its tier 1 events mandatory for all top players. I also think that the Masters and Tier 1 events should all be combined. That way, at a minimum, one could expect to see all of the top men and women at the slams and Masters. If some of the players who play fewer events don't show up at the smaller events, then so be it. The idea of restricting the amount of top players in an event is beyond insane.

Posted by tlis 03/13/2007 at 12:54 AM

Wow. Some of that is truly baffling. I think I'm going to have to read this a few more times to digest it all. My initial reaction, though, is that this "Roadmap" seems more like a roadblock that will lead to lots of roadkill.

Posted by cyandream 03/13/2007 at 01:01 AM

I'm weighing in with my vote for combined masters.

Posted by cyandream 03/13/2007 at 01:03 AM

Also one other question, is the WTA finally dropping the gold/silver exempt stuff. How do they want to market their players for their tennis skill or their "sexual" appeal?

Posted by Bobby 03/13/2007 at 03:32 AM

another great post, Pete! I hope larry comes to his senses and doesn't forget what great tourneys like bank of the west does for teh game of womens tennis. i think the time I almost beat larry in jr tennis must have damaged his thinking!

Posted by sophie 03/13/2007 at 06:34 AM

It's rules of engagement that suck. The moribund RR proved that complicated rules do not sell tennis either to fans or players.

KISS works. I can follow the ATP Tour, no problem.

WTA is a minefield - Tier 1 or 2 or XYZ, gold and silver exempt, Mauresmo told to go and play in Dubai, top seeds get a bye in tourneys and play 4 matches for a title, "we" can guarantee you a top player or 2 or 3 (get on that plane, Shrieky, forget your invitation to the Oscars), Global, National for crying out loud.

Even their points system...who knows or cares who's #1, the women don't seem to.

Roadmap - forget it. Any SatNav would self destruct.

Posted by skip1515 03/13/2007 at 08:03 AM

1. Combining Pete's post about the Warrior Generation with this one (thank you, Pete, btw), we find a 180 degree shift in philosophy: from players who wanted to play to players who want to get paid - the idea that when a player *decides* they want some tournament matches, last minute, their decision comes with a guarantee of add'l dollars is just ridiculous.

Yo, you want to enter our tourney two days before the draw? We'd love to have you. Extra bucks 'cause you deign to come to our fair burg? What're you smoking?

2. If television is key, combined events are more popular, and a geographically sound schedule that suggests a progression leading up to a Slam are all good things (which aids in the public's understanding of what's going on throughout the year), you're absolutely right that putting all these components together isn't rocket science.

So why isn't anyone suggesting that the tours and ITF go after a single sponsor, who'd have the most to gain from a unified presentation of pro tennis?

Posted by Samantha 03/13/2007 at 08:08 AM

To be frank, the WTA has very little control over what the top women do. Let's face it, if Sharapova would rather show up at the Oscars or Vanity fair party and claim she's too sick to play, who is going to stop her? Larry Scott, making an event mandatory, imposing a fine? I don't think so. If you look at the women field in Dubai, it was deeper then IW. I think it has alot to do with money and we have to remember that tennis is a profession and people will go where they can make the most money. If IW can't afford to pay the players as much as Dubai, then they willn't get the quality of players that showed up at Dubai where the winner took home a quarter of a million. It's a matter of money. You pay for the best, you get the best. Go Justine!

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 03/13/2007 at 09:00 AM

Thanks Pete, Question - what does the ATP think about the idea - given your take on their opinion of the average WTA match and the fact that they are pretty far ahead with their approach - master series, competition for ranking points, attendance, etc.

Would they view the new joint event, four grand slam series approach something that would increase the total prize money available and growth of the game?

Who would run the thing ? I am not sure Larry Scott is holding the strong hand in this partnership.

This sounds no different than the implementation of any merger and reorganization - there are winners and losers. It is always quicker and even kinder to make the "right" decisions and implement them quickly.

There will be some very unhappy people and perhaps legal reasons where there will be a transition period but if the right answer is four Grand slam based series events and a year end = that would be about it for big tournaments.

I, for one, think if they do it correctly tennis would make more sense, structure wise, and come back stronger than the current fragmented mess we currently have going.

Posted by patrick 03/13/2007 at 09:16 AM

I wish the WTA would make all Tier I mandatory (just like the ATP Masters Series) where the top 50 players at the end of the year would automatically be entered. If the top 50 does not enter, the player would earn 0 points which counts toward their ranking.

Posted by BillyBob 03/13/2007 at 09:40 AM

I don't like combined events for the WTA, outside of the Slams. Look at IW - Pacific Open: At the combined events only the ATP players are ever on TV. In combined events the women get zero coverage. Nothing. Even TTC covering the event, rarely, if ever, even lists the Women's scores. Make the WTA's "Master Series parallel" a week before the Men's. You could have a 2-4 week "event" for the venue involved. I think the Canadian Open for the WTA/ATP model is particularily clever and engaging to the fans. As it is now, the WTA is lucky to get a semi-final of a Tier 1 on TV. Combine all the events and the fans will only see highlights of matchpoints for the WTA. No combined events until the launch of TTC2, please.

Posted by Ruth 03/13/2007 at 10:07 AM

Pete: What you said in your 11:48 am comment yesterday is what I've been wondering about for years. When a system or rule or plan works effectively in one Tour, why does it take ages for it to be adopted by the other Tour, or why is it often ignored completely? Dare I hope that, now that the "principle" of pay/gender equity has been settled (equity, that is, when similar products, as in the Slams, are provided), we might see the WTA and ATP working together to make other aspects of the Tours (the rankings systems? penalties for various "crimes"? etc) mirror each other? That would be great IMHO.

Meanwhile, I am still having trouble figuring out what kind of thinking (nerve?) makes the WTA demand an $800,000 upgrade in prize money for a certain level of tournament while it offers itself a mere $25,000 slap on the wrist if it fails to live up to the promises inherent in the upgrade. My faculty union is in the middle of heated negotiations with my college right now, and I certainly hope that neither side is putting forward proposals like that! :) If so, this first day of our strike will be followed by many, many more!

Posted by Ruth 03/13/2007 at 10:22 AM

Samantha: I agree with your comment about how the money available will always influence the decisions that players, both male and female, make about where and when they'll play. And it amazes me when people, all of whom probably demand decent raises for their work in the real world, seem shocked by that truism.

However, I also feel that there are other variables that have nothing to do with $$$ which influence players' scheduling choices. For example, I really doubt that the women are flocking to Charleston only or mainly because of money. Is Charleston really the USA's secret Dubai? :) I've heard several players on several occasions talk about how the whole atmosphere at the Family Circle event, the way they are treated etc etc make them enjoy being there. Of course, if the players are fooling me and they're just talking about secret payments and great goodie bags, well....LOL

Posted by Lydia 03/13/2007 at 11:00 AM

Pricing places out of the market is to me the biggest concern. We can't let it become like the Vegas strip.

Posted by april 03/13/2007 at 12:24 PM

Nobody but Sharapova likes L.Scott. all the players think he's a butthead and that he's nothinng but a Patrick McEnroe when he's talking about Blake or Roddick even when they are getting trounced by Federer and down 5 breaks.
From giving Sharapova cakewalk draws to ordering players to save a tournament when "the new face of tennis" is too injured to play but is healthy enough to party at the Oscars.
Why do you think players skip tournaments now injured or not? They do not get the respect they deserve;nothing more nothing less.The attention is on Sharapova and not on the others who work hard;get shitt* draws and get really injured.
Until you pay attention on players and not their marital status,sexual preferences;or upcoming weddings;actual weight or mental issues;don't expect anything from them in return and that goes from the head of the ITF,WTA to you journalistswho find some of them boring but pay little time in finding out really who these ladies are behind the scenes besides the vain gossip and bashing sessions and us fans too.
I've been watching the ATP because of that;men are changing girlfriends like they change boxers but it's ok;we don't hear about it that much from the journalists and they don't get press about that;we get tennis.
The women right now don't talk smack like Hingis used to do back in the day; and thank goodness she stopped because she isn't winning anything when the top 5 players are competing and we get some tensions due to the quitting of Henin in a Slam final but hey she and Mauresmo when they are both healthy put on a good show when facing each other;journalists and fans alike find them boring personality wise.

Posted by kombo 03/13/2007 at 01:06 PM

eeww... gross. This is embarassing.

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 01:46 PM

Tell us how you really feel, April! BTW, tournament draws are made in public, not by Larry Scott.

Posted by Lisa 03/13/2007 at 01:52 PM

Okay, whose to say that the other national tennis authorities won't be in the same bind that the USTA will be in? The USTA is a large organization with a lot of money, but even so, it can't empty its piggy bank in favor of the tournaments and let its CTA and Sectional programs be penniless

Also, I like the combined events but that does not guarantee dual television coverage. Consider, the dual events like Sydney, Memphis and now IW. Sydney only showed the women. Memphis only showed two or three matches at best. IW, has so far only showed the men. I don' buy the theory of "if we build it, people will come."

Upping the appearance fees at the cost of the local tournaments is ridiculous, especially because top women have a propensity to not show up. Will the tournaments be given back the money it fronts for these players???? I don't think so...

Posted by Kombo 03/13/2007 at 02:25 PM

April, I actually like Hingis' personality. :) I don't find her boring at all. Fist pumps et al gets old after a while, Hingis' subtle cattiness tickles me :D

Posted by Ali C. 03/13/2007 at 02:30 PM

It's the dance we do. ;)

Question: how did we find out that the WTA asked/ordered Mauresmo to Dubai? Did she or the Tour say something to that effect?

Posted by Samantha 03/13/2007 at 02:35 PM

Speak for yourself April, I find Justine to be much more exciting then any player in the WTA. But I agree that Sharapova gets far too much attention when the WTA should be promoting the great rivalries between Justine and the Williamses or Justine and Amelie who have the two most beautiful games in the WTA. Go Justine!

Posted by Samantha 03/13/2007 at 02:42 PM

Ali C, I think Amelie went to Dubai for the same reasons that most of the players go, Greed. All the Swedes are gone, so the tourney is over for me. Oh when will we produce another Borg?

Posted by safinafan 03/13/2007 at 02:48 PM

First I have a stupid question - Am I dreaming or didn't the USTA come out recently and say that they were going to form an alternative tour to the WTA because of this "roadmap"?

I seem to remember reading that somewhere, and if I'm not dreaming it up, maybe they just couldn't materialize it due to player apathy. If I'm not, maybe they should.

Anyway, while the whole proposal seems stupid and outlandish, what's going to happen is that they will create more big money Dubai's and more economic division between the top players and the rest of the field. That said, the need for an alternative tour will become relevant. That also said, it wouldn't be unheard of for some of the more principled top players (no, I'm not including $harapova) to boycott or something in solidarity of their struggling sisters.

Regardless, while I'm not a fan of either the WTA or the USTA, The guy who wrote this actually says, "...the contents of a memo I recently obtained, which presumably was sent to the WTA by the USTA." This sounds like a leak. And it's pretty sad that USTA would be leaking a memo to a Tennis Magazine writer and makes them look bad. No offense, but isn't the LA Times interested in this? Didn't they have people at Indian Wells? All it would serve to do in Tennis would be to piss off this small sliver of hardcore fans, who were going to read it anyway.

This all seems like a junior high school pissing match, not to mention a bunch of smoke, to get fans riled up. If true, feel free to go for my alt tour suggestion. I'll bill you later.

Posted by Mlelly 03/13/2007 at 03:46 PM

It's truly a shame that the people with the most vested interest in how the professional game is structured in the future (tennis players and fans) will have virtually no say in how this evolves. The power structure (that is the people with the money) don't seem to want to take the long term view and thus they are likely to kill the goose. It would be lovely if the players with the most clout wanted to take a leadership role here, but one can clearly see they are about making money right now and really who can blame them when it's such a free for all? In my thinking April most tennis fans don't give a hoot about much beyond the quality of the matches we are allowed to see. Unfortunately, it's the tour and sponsors (read the money/advertisers) who are promoting the whole sex appeal angle to the non-tennis public... and no one's going to stop them until the players themselves say no mas...

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 04:27 PM

safina, you are indeed dreaming; the USTA has maintained all along that it doesn't want to form an alternate tour but would consider the option if their concerns weren't redressed. Two very different things. Also, you'd be surprised how large the "sliver" of readers here is, and the people of influence who read the material.

Posted by Ryan 03/13/2007 at 04:55 PM

Maria just collapsed--draw is opening up for Martina--beat Daniela!

Nothing will ever be solved as long as there are like 9 different organizations fighting for the riches.

Posted by safinafan 03/13/2007 at 05:07 PM

Pete, the USTA inference that they would consider an alternative in the face of WTA obstinence must be what I was thinking of.

I take it you are the writer of this blog. Again, I'm no fan of either org, but with all due respect, you sure seem to be banging the drum for USTA.

As to your readership, I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark and submit that it doesn't exactly compare in size and scope to the LA Times.


Just a wild guess.

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 05:29 PM

Safina, if I am banging the drum for the USTA because I support their cause and reasoning. This is a weblog, I am a person of opinion. And I would say that more people read this blog entry than the last tennis politics story written in the LA Times. If you'd like to make a wager, email me because I know how to produce the numbers. I don't need to take "a wild guess." But no harm done, have a good day.

Posted by safinafan 03/13/2007 at 05:36 PM

You certainly are defensive there Pete. Could that have anything to do with the fact that your magazine is placed in the mailboxes of every USTA member?

You have a good day too now. :)

Posted by april 03/13/2007 at 05:49 PM

wow Safinafan you hit the nail.

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 05:57 PM

Yeah, you got me, I'm a secret operative for the USTA, and am crucially linked to the Kennedy assasination as well.

Posted by Neup 03/13/2007 at 06:19 PM

Pete, could you tell me who is the anagram for "Wary Net Rusha" and "Was Hearty Run"? I've racked my mind for hours!

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 06:30 PM

Neup - I am under strict orders from the USTA not to divulge that information. . . I'm going to let you twist in the wind a little longer by just giving you a hint: old-school, lefty, watches the Wiggles a lot. Get back to me if you're still having trouble and I may give you another hint. . .

Posted by Trudes 03/13/2007 at 07:35 PM

I read Maria's interview a few moments ago and almost fainted.
I had no idea ther WTA us using that ridiculous on court coaching here at the PLO. Is this what it's come to???

I've pretty much tuned out the women's tour for the past year and a half, and I think this may be the final nail in the coffin.
WTA has lost all credibility as far as I'm concerned.

Onto more inportant matters...
Is Andy Roddick doing press this week? I haven't been able to find his interviews on the ASAP or PLO site.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 03/13/2007 at 07:47 PM

By the way, when you said, Pete, that "no USTA run tournaments applied to be "A" level events" that means (i) US Open does not count, obviously, (ii) events such as Miami, and perhaps Indian Wells, are going to be "Globals" right (Miami for sure, correct?), so (iii) we're talking about other tournaments not deciding to be "A" events, right?

Like Family Circle, La Costa, Manhattan Beach?

Other than the basic flaws, what did this mean, only four or five tournaments per year in the United States? With everything else being exhibitions?

Posted by Darthhelmethead 03/13/2007 at 08:05 PM

Sounds like the WTA's selling out to the Man. And is there any guarantee that Sony Ericson would be around after the WTA is stuck with these changes

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 03/13/2007 at 08:07 PM

Because its difficult to figure out, the top WTA non-slams, based upon money and tier status, seem to be Tokyo, Dubai, Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Charlston, Berlin, Rome, San Diego, Toronto, Moscow, Zurich.

That would be 13, plus the Slams, 17.

Is the deal that 17 is basically too many for the babes? With the ATP at 13, a case could be made.

Is this roadmap really designed to figure out which tournament directors emerge from the cage match?

Posted by jac 03/13/2007 at 09:07 PM

Ruth,

I said a couple of days ago that the WTA is a boring joke-you implied that I might be in a minority; now what do you think?

Posted by nugmartin 03/13/2007 at 09:08 PM

Hingis is driving me insane, she can not break Daniela :(

Posted by Pete 03/13/2007 at 09:34 PM

Dunlop, inside dope on the "big combined" events is: IW and Miami, then two of these: Madrid (seems a lock for mr. Tiriac), Rome, Shanghai. . .

Posted by FoT 03/13/2007 at 10:25 PM

Guys, if this (WTA) is what some of the fans want the ATP to change to (not knowing who will win a tournament from one week to the next)...then count me out. I like seeing the "stars" on the weekend. I hate when we have a lot of upsets like this. The WTA was on thin thread to start with now so many "name" players are out (although I'm glad Maria is! lol)... But still... I guess I just like stability (that's why I love it when Roger's in the tournament on the last Sunday)... But that's just me. Some people say that's boring...but this WTA event is boring to me. Now the ATP is getting there...

I have to think back to the 'good old days' for me when the final was between Venus and Serena; Roger and even Nadal! (well...Roger and anyone)...lol!

But the people asked for 'new and different' and they are getting their share in this tournament. I love it when we have the #1 vs #2! Oh..the good old days! lol!

Posted by MrsSanta 03/13/2007 at 11:02 PM

I've read these WTA roadmap shenanigans several times and I still do not get it. Apparently with enough cash(in multiples of 800K) I could hold a tournie in my backyard and get as many top seeds as I want to show up.


We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  Someone to Talk to. . . The Wild Blue Yonder  >>




Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646148 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin