To say the changes have been confusing is an understatement. I’m going to use this blog post to attempt to make it clearer, whilst also highlighting the absurdities that now result from the new system.
I’m going to use the upcoming women’s $25k event in Hong Kong as my template.
The way the draws break down are as follows: the first 17 entrants get in via their WTA ranking; as the screenshot below shows.
No issues there, they are in based purely on their WTA ranking. Whilst the next 5 get in via the ITF rankings.
Lopatetska is a very highly thought of junior so I’ll put her to one side, but looking at the other four, you have a young unranked Croatian (WTA ranking anyway) and three other pros in their 20’s with pretty unremarkable records who now have direct entrance. I hope you’ll soon see my confusion with this shortly.
So far we’ve 22 players accounted for. Four more are eligible for wildcards, leaving 6 qualifying spots.
Qualifying itself is made up of 24 players, 20 who get in directly via their WTA ranking and four wildcards.
It’s at this point that the whole new rankings system becomes utterly absurd to me. Every single one of the 20 players in the qualifying draw has a better WTA ranking than the 5 ladies who get direct entrance via the ITF rankings.
If the Holy Grail is winning WTA points then it makes little sense to me to have 5 players taking up main draw spots from an inferior rankings system.
I accept that there has to be some element of transition otherwise the whole idea becomes obsolete, but is this really the best method? In the tournament above you’ve three 20 something year olds getting direct entrance via the ITF rankings and given the point of this new system is to help speed up progression for top junior talent surely this is evidence it doesn’t work? Particularly when there are younger players with a better WTA ranking who have to qualify?
Is this honestly better than the previous system? Can’t see it myself.
Ultimately I can’t help but feel that anyone who is currently ranked 400+ and has a poor ITF ranking will end up feeling confused and completely unsure of how best to schedule next year. They’ll want to keep a WTA ranking, but now know that if they’re playing badly dropping down to the $15k level is of absolutely no benefit; therefore what do you do?
The end result is going to see a lot of people squeezed out of the game in my personal opinion and I’m quite frankly at a loss to see how this really helps transitioning players through at a faster pace.
However I accept I may be wrong and if I am, feel free to explain why!