Too often in today’s world due to the advent of social media, a hot topic is discussed, dissected and then forgotten about as the next pressing issue rears its head.
It’s what allows scandals to blow over, because we’re seemingly loathe to talk about an issue from last week when something new and fresh has popped up.
Sadly this phenomenon is arguably the reason the outrage at the ITF World Tour has seemingly died down.
Therefore I’m writing this blog to look at exactly what has changed for the better, nearly 5 months on from the introduction of the ITF World Tour.
One of the critical issues I’ve highlighted in previous blogs were the sheer number of opportunities that disappeared over night. The numbers I calculated said that in the 3 month period last year from Jan to Mar, there were 7,972 qualifying spots. This was then reduced by 5,692 spots with the changes that were made in the same three month period at the beginning of this year. That’s a shocking number of opportunities that disappeared overnight.
How did the ITF respond? Well they raised qualifying draws by 8, to 32 instead of 24. They argue that to increase it any further would result in players playing two matches a day and they’re concerned for their welfare. This, as much of what the ITF says is nonsense. Players already ARE playing twice a day in a number of locations.
They then go on to claim another issue is that the IRP report that I’ve discussed previously limits them to 7 day tournaments. Simply untrue. It was a recommendation. Unless my grasp of English is a lot worse than I think it is, a recommendation is something you can choose to implement should you wish. I mean, if it’s not and it had to be implemented, then why are the ITF able to ignore the recommendation that live scoring is turned off at the $15k level?
In the interest of being clear, the above screenshot is for those who aren’t aware of the additional changes. The things mentioned in the screenshot do very little to address the core issues and so I won’t go into them.
We’re 5 months on and very little has changed. There are two ranking systems, reduced tournaments and reduced opportunities and seemingly no resolutions in sight.
It’s affecting players in a big way and some have simply walked away. 22 year old Omar Salman (link at the bottom of the blog) was ranked 450th at the end of last year then overnight finds himself in the 700’s once the removal of the ATP points from the $15k events he had played was applied. The mountain he was now being forced to climb once again was too much for him and he has called it a day.
Omar will be one of many, sadly.
I was previously active on Twitter highlighting these issues but held back as I wanted to see what changed, if anything.
However we’ve seen recently and shamefully the USTA give their backing to David Haggerty as he attempts to get re-elected as ITF President, so now I guess is as good a time as any to remind people of the shambles he has presided over.
This ultimately isn’t my battle to fight. I’m not a player, coach, academy director or anyone whose livelihood is directly affect by the changes, but I’m passionate about the sport and it’s essential we don’t allow indifference and apathy to creep in. The players need our support and this cannot be allowed to just be swept under the carpet.
I intend to write to the LTA to demand they do not support Haggerty and if you’re a fan of the sport I ask you do the same to your national federation. It may take half an hour of your time, but could have a lasting impact of the strength of feeling and support reaches the sorts of levels it should.
It’s time the sport listens to its fans, whether that be on this issue, or more recently with Justin Gimelstob. Without fans you have no sport, so stop taking us for fools.
Omar Salman link: http://www.aftnet.be/Info/Divers/Omar-Salman-decide-d-arreter-les-frais