There are currently 3 ATP Challengers (Dallas, Chennai, & West Lakes) and 6 ITF Futures (Argentine, Egypt, Great Britain, Portugal, Spain & Turkey) been played around the world. If you are currently playing in these events or reading this blog post please send me players names and emails to add to my list, it will only take 5 minutes. Thank you!
“Tennis is an all-around sport. You need speed, coordination, endurance, flexibility, power, strength, mental stability and also a lot money and traveling.”
Thanks to everyone that contacted me after my last post. I was able to connect with a former council member that has offered to help get in touch with the current council members who will hopefully be able to help us move forward with the ‘Petition’.
If you didnt know, I started a Facebook group and Facebook page, ‘ATP and ITF -Time for change’ and ‘ATP & ITF Petition’ to reach out to as many players as possible. I have started an email list of all the players who have contacted me, the list is growing daily. Once the letter is written (with the help of Former SA Tennis CEO, Ian Smith and former council members – if thats what they end up recommending) I will email everyone on my list the ‘petition’ or upload a form on my website to sign.
We are heading in the right direction, spread the word, send me emails with contacts and I will keep everyone updated on the page. Cheers
While watching the Super Bowl tonight I did some research on the financials of the ATP and ITF. I wasn’t able to find any useful information about the ATP but found a few interesting facts about the ITF:
- The number of players registering for the Pro IPIN membership (International Player Identification Number) increased by five percent from 2012 to 18,230
- 8 men’s tournaments received grants from the Grand Slam Development Fund
- Number of ITF tournaments increase by 11.5% in 2012 to 582
- Total prize money increase by 9.3% in 2012 to $6,675,000
- Reduced $15,000 tournaments while compensating by increasing the $10,000 tournaments by 19%
I was under the impression that there were ‘only’ +-8000 registered Pro players. The Grand Slam grants seem like a great idea (which I never knew about) but do they think that 8 tournaments out of 582 in a year are going to make a difference? Now, the most interesting number of them all was the whopping, $6,675,00, the total prize money for 582 tournaments… The total prize money for the US Open was $26,104,000 for one tournament! Need I say more?
According to the ITF annual report they delivered an operating surplus of $0.7M in 2012 after a LOSS in 2011.
- “Sponsorship income was lower than expected”
- “we were also fortunate that the London Olympic Games was reflected in the level of income we received”
The ITF obviously aren’t doing to well for themselves. Does this explain the current problem in the prize money system? The ATP needs the ITF but they are clearly doing nothing to help the lower level tournaments in PROFESSIONAL tennis, which in the end of the day is THEIR (the ATP) association. There is something missing here, please leave a reply below with any thoughts or send me an email on my contact page. The more people that get involved, the more feedback that we receive, the better our changes are of making a difference.
Here is a list of the Players Council: Kevin Anderson, Roger Federer, Jarkko Nieminen, Gilles Simon, Robin Haase, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Mahesh Bhupathi, Eric Butorac, James Cerretani, Andre Sa , Claudio Pistolesi, Yves Allegro. Can we reach out to these players to help? Contact me here
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.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to start the year off with $20,000 in my bank account. This year that number started in the negative after spending every last penny on my tennis (and more) during 2013. After returning from South Africa in December I started planning my schedule for 2014.
It didn’t take me long to realize that planning a very demanding traveling schedule with limited cash flow would be challenging. I decided that I was going to give it another shot this year after I had made enough money through coaching privately in Miami. I also decided that I was going to create a facebook group, ATP and ITF – Time for change. Every week there is a new article online telling a story about the life of a Professional tennis player. Unfortunately very few of them are positive. The press get great stories from it, the International Federations do nothing about it and the players suffer because of the poor system they have in place. The prize money has to be allocated differently or increased otherwise it will kill the game of tennis.
This group is meant to spread awareness and get the ATP, WTA and ITF to wake up.
After receiving very good feedback from this group I created a facbook page, ATP & ITF Petition. Both the group and the page have had a lot of ‘traffic’ lately and it keeps increasing.
It didn’t take long for hundreds of players to jump on board with this petition along with multiple tennis/sport websites across the world. View the articles links below:
- livetennis.it – ATP can’t support more than 10% of their field
- spaziotennis.com – Prize money break down
- parentingaces.com – Q & A with me about the futures tour
- sportsgazette.co.uk – A campaign and petition have been launched to change things
- tennisbest.com – The struggle on tour
I have an interview with a Spanish based website early next week. I plan on talking about the following: e.g. If a sponsor approaches me today and offers me $100,000 for the year and expects nothing in return I will be able to travel comfortably, pay to have a coach travel with me 8-10 weeks of the year (which isn’t much), look after my body better, be in a better frame of mind, give myself a greater chance to make it and most importantly I will be able to focus primarily on my tennis, giving me the best chance to ‘break-through’ in the extremely touch group of players. Lets say that everything goes according to plan and I have a DREAM year, my ranking jumps from 1150 in the world to top 200 in the world. It would be a huge achievement for me or any other player out there but the sad reality is that you would have spent that $100,000 (which in MANY cases its your money or your families), made a huge jump in your personal career, top 200 in your field, and have a great ‘resume’ as a player BUT you will be left with $0 in your bank account and you have to rely on another sponsor for the next year otherwise you will HAVE to quit at your highest ranking because its not possible to compete at that level if you aren’t in it 100% or at least allowing yourself the chance to compete as often as the rest of the field. As an 18 year old with a sponsor like this it makes sense to do it but when you are in your mid 20’s does it make sense to invest all your time and other peoples money into something that will have zero financial return even if you do have, what I would consider, a great career if you reach the top 200. Now you are 23, 28 or 33 years old with nothing to show for it, what now?
Cant the ITF (as the International Federation) and the ATP (as the only association for tennis Professionals) make a change?