After creating, ‘ATP and ITF – Time for CHANGE’ and ‘ATP & ITF Petition’, I received hundreds of emails from players and tennis fans on a daily basis. The word is spreading, big time! There are currently thousands of people getting involved with this ’cause’ in over 5 different countries.
After reading through many different suggestions from people I wanted to share a very ‘simple’ idea with you. If the ITF with the support of the ATP can make the prize money system at the lower levels like it used to be. Players at the futures level were able to earn enough to break even. Tennis players at this level are what we refer to as, ‘GRINDERS’. They are willing to risk everything they have, travel to the most random places in well below average conditions, and be on the road for 40 weeks of the year living out of a bag knowing they will have $0 by the end of the year. We all know this but we still do it, why? For the love of the game? sure. That love runs out quicker than you think.
Imagine how much more competitive the tour would be at this level and how many more lower level players would be able to break through if the ATP/ITF simply increased the prize money to where players could break even. I think that is a reasonable request! (If they kept increasing the prize money in the lower levels tournaments over the years small percentages at a time we wouldn’t be having this issue).
It gives the really talented and hard working players with no money a longer period of time to be able to break through. By no means am I suggesting that future level players that lose first round every week should be making money. Way to many players are forced to quit at their highest ranking. I believe that is a reason to change the system for the better of the sport by seeing who the TRUE top 200 are and for the well-being of the lower level players as they are breaking through the cracks.
The average age in the top 100 is 27 years old. This means that players are peaking a lot later in their careers than they previously did but the path to ‘peaking’ has been made that much tougher with the current system in place. On average players are able to break through the top 200 after 4 years if they are good enough and if they are able to overcome the financial barriers. The percentage of players that break through are extremely small as it is, why make it even smaller?
Increasing the prize money at the lower levels won’t take anything away from the top players who were able to break through (with a deep pocket or not), they have earned every bit of it. But it will make this sport a lot more attractive at a Professional level and improve thousands of players lives across the world.
Most players quit after their first year or two. Many quit because its not the easiest career path but the ones that stay out there and increase their rankings on a yearly basis have to quit too because they run out of funds. Many of these players are on track (according to statistics) to the top 200. These are the players that the system needs to change for. Tennis will always have guys ranked 500-2000 that may never break through, thats a fact. But why cut the changes from the players who had the potential but ran out of money before their time…
A recap of the benefits:
- Top players aren’t affected
- Lower level players who have what it takes are able to play for the ‘required’ time given to break through
- The ATP has its TRUE top 200
What I mean by ‘True’ is that there are a lot of players that would have been able to make it to the top 200 (maybe not the top 20 but part of the ELITE players in the top 200), if they were able to play for longer.
Due to the amount the game has changed over the years the system needs to allow players to play for at least 4 years on average. If you don’t make it by then its your decision to continue or not but at least you were able to give yourself a good chance. Although a very small percentage of players, there is no doubt in my mind that the top 200 would have seen many difference faces over the past 10 years if there was a different system in place.
The question is how much (%) will they need to increase the prize money in the lower levels to make this difference? The ITF effects the ATP and vise versa but who makes the call to change the system? They don’t seem to work together. So, how do we approach this situation in the best way possible and to who?
I am not here to tell the ATP or the ITF how to run their organization/federation, neither will I try. I am simply asking them to REVIEW the price money system and try come up with a solution that will make sense for them and the players.
Click here to view the prize money breakdown on the Futures and Challengers Tour
Have a great weekend, cheers