Broken Dreams, lack of confidence, out of pathway on tennis
Analysis, reflection and proposals by Fernando Segal.
I´m writing this article of analysis and opinion, firstly because I think that voices must rise, minds observe and much more to act, because today there is certainly a deep feeling among players, coaches, organizers and many more that make up the people who work for the development of tennis in the world, that we are in a chaos of concepts, mainly of philosophical concepts of what is sought for our sport. Each opinion is valuable, and it is necessary to add to find more logical ways, in my opinion, to build a path of certainty and credibili
Conceptualizing that tennis at the time required changes, innovation or constant improvements, is something that anyone who knows his organization, the evolution that had and the demands of modern times and societies, that are more than clear. We all know that there are many organizations in tennis that opined, a lot of politics, interests, and more, lack of unification.
However, forget the philosophical concepts that make nature, tradition, history and own growth of tennis is in itself, a very risky action. That happened. I imagined that there are people in the ITF, I know some of them quite well, that they are people of good intentions and professionalism. This does not exempt them from being able to make mistakes and not read correctly the map of tennis development for the world. Change for to change, is unwise.
We the coaches and more, those of us who work in the development of tennis, know that a crucial food to generate players is the DREAM of becoming an important player: first to be the best of your city, then of your country, then compete internationally , be one of the best in the world and very important, in an individual sport, to compete for your country.
When the ITF changed the format of the Davis Cup, that child who saw his local players, wearing the colors of the country with a “national” shirt (Until before 2000 this did not exist and it was a change that I participated), you could enjoy and identify with that player and dreams, that one day it would be you. I know dozens of stories of children who were “ball-boys” in Davis Cup and dreaming, training and pursuing that dream, then they became those champions.
If you are from a Latin American country, if you are from a peripherical country, you will no longer see your teams compete and perhaps, as happened with countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Holland, India, Sweden and others, to beat locally a great historical powerful country in an great battles. Your children, your young players, not even yourself, will no longer see their great champions meters away in your place. That dream will be harder to feed.
Sure, the new format of Davis Cup is clearly, another format, more money, all concentrated and up to 2 WC for countries that do not qualify to the world main draw (Much suspicion was mentioned about how they did give them). But of dream, illusion, past motivation, there is nothing. There is more material, less spiritual
Gerard Pique according to some published statements is upset that the media, former top players or tennis world people tell him it is the “Pique Cup”, in my case I think it is to give too much importance to the football player, compared to Mr. Dwight Davis. But it is also true that this is not the Davis Cup as we knew it, even calling it that way, it is something else. Davis Cup, had high content of battles, changes of surfaces, strategies and previous tactics to complicate the rival, motivation for your own fans. I cannot imagine the fervent fans of a country traveling to Madrid, this year and sitting next to a Japanese, Australian, Brazilian or German, to name a few and shout a song just for your team beside them.
That Davis Cup went down in history. Rivalry is also coming, with the renewed ATP Nations Cup that will be played in weeks, in Australia, to add more confusion to tennis. More to tell but let´s move forward to talk more about this sitcom.
Talking about the second big change, the ITF Transition Circuit, now called the World Tennis Tour, another determining factor talking about the DREAM of the player.
In recent past, we who travel with young juniors players and then they are inserted to the professionalism, great part of the motivation, the longing to start was to win their first point of ATP and thus to continue.-What the ITF / ATP / WTA do, they change the model of professional insertion, not to abound in technical issues that I have already spoken in other articles and videos, again helping to kill the DREAM, creating instability, uncertainty and more, a reduction of players with the statements they want to reduce of 14,000.- only 3000, and why? To win a point you must at least win in a tournament of 25,000 four games in 2019. By 2020, future tournaments will not have ATP / WTA points.
A very few years ago one of the main concepts of the ITF was PARTICIPATION, that is, more people playing tennis, whatever the level. Another fundamental philosophical concept for our sport, MORE PEOPLE PLAYING. This is the other way around, closing the alternative that people join the system.
At this point it is added that the current double ranking system (ITF-ATP / WTA), generates the instability of another key philosophical concept “CONFIDENCE”, that is, a continuous, progressive system and for its own results is an ” Player development Highway ” or a “Pathway”. Today, having two ITF rankings – ATP / WTA, not giving points in the ranking is important for the player and when the spaces to grow on that highway are not properly open, it creates confusion, instability and uncertainty and more, great lack of ” CONFIDENCE” in how the destinies of our sport are carried.
Then, third philosophical concept that was not properly addressed from my point of view: LUCK OF DREAM + PARTICIPATION + CONFIDENCE. Everything affects us as tennis developers.
And I ask myself these questions with my own answers:
Why reduce the number of places in the classification of a Future to only 24?
– They went from 128, 64 or 32 places to 24 places, causing a large number of players to be left out, as happened in several countries. Fewer players participating.
– In another remarkable step, it is agreed with the ATP, I suppose according with the ITF, to make a classification in the ATP Challengers of 4 players! Yes, 4 players of which one will be a WC. I mean less people when last year there were 16, 24 or sometimes 32 players. Again, fewer players
– What will happen to the university players from the USA and other countries that play and study there, given that they only have two to three months to compete.
– In part, the current system seems quite acceptable for the youth who are in the top 50, but we know very well that there are guys who are late maturing or do not play ITF in juniors, they have to thought about them, the system It is vulnerable at this point.
They say that the big problem are the bets?
– Everyone in international tennis are against corruption and the effort to realize the TIU, is a valuable point in favor. However, even today the ITF has a contract with the firm Sportradar, who manages the data for the bets that would be made and these, continue to give the results. Why not suspend that agreement and not provide more data of players and parties that are outside the TOP 200 (In a meeting of an ITF Commission, I mentioned it), that way, we cut the root of the temptation. Of course, there is money that comes for that contract, so let’s get players out as if that were the only solution.
– I wonder who thought that redesigning and reducing the number of players competing would see less bets or improve the level of tennis … This point goes through several other sides.
Do they mention that they improved the futures money and other events?
– It is not true. The future tournaments of U$D15,000 and U$D 25,000.- have exactly the same prizes as last years. Moreover, now it is more expensive for a player because they discount the $ 40 of the registration, a subject that did not happen before, when you were in the main draw.
– The ATP announces that in the Challengers there will be 16 more places for players with hospitality. (Topic in favor), however, do not mention two issues that for me are crucial, the prize in a Challenger ATP 80 for losing 1st. Wheel is U$D 260, if you lose in the second wheel U$D 520 and third, that is to say, you reached the eighth-finals U$D 860.-. Having a ranking of at least 300/350 in the world, it is very little money, if you think that you had to get the ticket, your coach’s, pay for your technician’s week and if you have a physical trainer, it will not reach you.
– The support to players in hospitality for 5 days is a point in favor, however, as mentioned by the promoters of the challengers, the biggest economic burden of this is the promoter himself, because the ATP gives very little support in the form of “Grant” to cover those 16 new players for 5 days. Another point to improve
Do the ITF comment that there are more future tournaments?
– Inaccurate. In the male side, from January to April the number of tournaments was reduced. Both in the US$ 15,000 and US$ 25,000.-, in an approximate to 20/25%.
– The change of a future tournament in 7 days, in short and mostly, benefits the promoter, because it reduces costs of: amount of balls used, there is one less arbitrator as obligation, it charges the US$ 40 that it did not have before and in many cases, that’s why the system grew in hotels or places that make several tournaments, is that players must pay a room in that hotel to have priority to play, sometimes train in the official courts and other constraints put by the promoters, for sell the rooms.
– Then the tournament becomes a business selling rooms in low occupancy season. That is why there are many, not because of the development of the tennis of a National Federation approach. We passed the problem to the promoters to do their business.
Double ranking, different values of the tournaments?
– Before the “pathway” of chained tournaments allowed players to make a tour at least of certain logic. Now there are two rankings, which only in certain cases are integrated. There are dozens of players with better ATP / WTA ranking, who have not been in the main draw of an ITF tournament.
– Likewise, since there are few places for players with ITF rankings in challengers, then it is very difficult to travel with some progression. Difficult to plan a competitive program
– How is it possible that if a player won 8 ITF futures of US $ 15,000 last year (2018), that is, from the organization itself spending from his pocket, traveling the world, having a lower ranking or possibility than someone who won a first round with WC of an ATP Challenger. That is, one player won 40 matches and the last one only and his ranking is worth more. Something does not create “CONFIDENCE”.
Communication is another key, lacking clarity and affecting CONFIDENCE
– There was misinformation all last year
– The name World Tennis Tour is a good branding. The ITF Transition Tour weighed as a concept.
– Until almost enf of last year, there was no total consensus of the rules that were going to have for players, coaches, National Federations. I spoke with several on November and many of then, they don’t know quite correctly all rules.
– And so much more to quote.
I could go on with much more data and reflections, but better we go to some recommendations that for me, are key in the short term in line with other friends of international tennis some of them and others more important from my reflection for the long term that are more philosophical:
PROPOSALS FOR THE SHORTT TERM
1. Return to the draws of, at least 16/24 players for Challenger and up to 32/48/64 at least for Futures.
2. Do not charge the US $ 40.- to the players in the main futures table.
3. Suspend the delivery of data to companies that handle bets beyond the Top 200 in the world.
4. Cancel the tournaments of USD$ 15,000.- and only that there is USD$ 25,000.-. (In a medium time-table) (Since the ITF has money for the increase in Davis Cup revenues, establish “grants” for countries earmarked for that increase.)
5. Unify the ranking again and give ATP points (According to ATP sources, they never wanted to remove ATP points from future tournaments)
6. Increase the possibility of doing more junior tournaments in each country, to generate greater possibilities of having ITF ranking
PROPOSALS FOR THE LONG TERM (Let’s make more serious changes)
PLAN A. (Alternative)
– That the ATP / WTA, (in its acronym, Association of tennis players) TAKE CHARGE OF PROFESSIONAL TENNIS. Make your complete ranking, the development of the “pathway” of professional training and professional development tournaments. It make more sense for me.
– The ITF that is in charge of the juniors and regional circuits.
– It must be considered that the ITF is the International Federation of National Tennis Federations and does not precisely represent tennis players in training and development. In fact, there is no committee of players Top 300, Top 500, Top 1000 representing the position of the players before the circuits. Even that, there are not players on such ranking integrated to ITF Committees.
Those of us who know the system from within, we know that many times in the National Federations, there are not precisely people with experience in the development of players and tennis structures.
– The ITF by its nature does not represent the players competing or in developing pro phases , as well as the tennis coaches and teachers. Help, but first defend the rights of its partners, national federations. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s like that. So, they had to improve this!
– Improve the investment in money for the base players.
– More marketing and sponsors for the circuit. (Today he has almost nothing, you did not have to work more on this instead of changing the system)
– Others to be pronounced later
PLAN B – (Other alternative)
The ITF continues making the tournaments and the ITF ranking of players in development stages, but then it aligns with those that it already does with the WTA. That is to say, the ITF today makes Challengers of U$D 50,000, U$D 100,000.- on women side and because they do it in women and not in men??. (Another philosophical incongruity of the system so far)
– Let´s do it in men tennis as well.
– In this way, if you unify the ranking with both entities (ATP / WTA), the futures of US$ 15,000 are canceled, it starts only from US$ 25,000.-, the higher-priced tournament options such as U$D go up 50,000.- and 100,000.- and in this way, they are the promoters that could produce the money for the events, with more options for the players in the economic aspect. (It will be necessary to study how to help the promoters)
– Create as in the Golf and other sports, more regional professional integration circuit (Latin American Circuit, Asian Circuit, African Circuit, etc.)
– And an integration system with a unique ranking is created so that the best ones can play the qualifies (already of more players) and be a progressive system.
– Improve the amount of money for base players.
– More marketing and sponsors for the circuit. (Today has almost nothing)
– Others to be pronounced later
Finally, the sport that we love, that we have as a profession and that we integrate as a world community is at a deeply uncertain moment. There are voices from all sides speaking and demonstrating. It is clear that VALUES of our sport such as: DREAM, CONFIDENCE, PARTICIPATION, LOGICAL GROWTH SYSTEM and others, from my reflection and opinion, have been affected by these decisions that ignored their own value of the sport which we have. It is necessary to evaluate and act with sensitivity for what is happening and, above all, provide congruence, security and a clear vision of where we are going.
There are already made facts, others that can be changed and clearly, recover confidence. It is a matter of listening more and acting at the height of the leadership that is intended to have and represent. Make a real difference
FOR A BETTER TENNIS
Broken Dreams, lack of confidence, out of pathway on tennis