The ITF Transition Tour: A Radical Overhaul That Some Players Hate - UBITENNIS
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ITF

The ITF Transition Tour: A Radical Overhaul That Some Players Hate

After one month in use, the controversial changes has attracted backlash from many players on the tour.

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The International Tennis Federation is coming under fire over their controversial revamp of lower level tournaments with players saying they have been made worse off due to the changes.

 

The ITF Transition Tour was brought into effect this year with the aim of cutting down the number of players to make is easier for those on a tour to earn a living. A study conducted by the governing body found that that over 14,000 players participate in professional tournaments over a year. Under the new system, tournaments will be staged within a more localise circuit to make costs lower for both players and tournaments. On top of that, ITF ranking points have been brought in instead of ATP and WTA Points.

The idea of ensuring lower ranked players earn more is a welcomed one. According to the ITF, the ranking players need to achieve to break even is 336 for men and 253 for women. However, since the revamp many players have said they have not benefited and some have even stated that they have been made worse off.

“I would really like to meet a person who came up with this idea about the ITF transition tour and congratulate him. All the ideas that person got cannot function even in a perfect world because players have zero benefit from it and they don’t make any sense.” World No.457 Ana Vrljić wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week.
“Players could see a clear path for them if they play good for a year, if they are consistent eventually they would get there. With these new rules, players lost that vision, they lost seeing it clearly how to get to the top cause it seems almost impossible.
“Even by winning 16 15.000$ tournaments your ranking would be around 270 which is not enough for Grand Slam so you would be obligated to move to higher tournaments.”

Vrljić has extensive experience of the tour. The 34-year-old Croat has been playing in lower level tournaments for almost 20 years and has been ranked as high as 180th in the world. It appears that Vrljić belongs to an increasing group of players who feel that they are being treated as second-class citizens.

Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva has experience of playing at both the highest and lowest level of the sport. A former world No.35, she has played in 14 grand slam main draws and has eight ITF titles to her name. At present she is placed outside of the top 200.

“Money talks and money rules. They don’t need any players outside of top 100. They need the big names and the big profit from slams.” Karatantcheva wrote to Vrljić.
“By changing the rule, they secured easier stability for the top and impossible possibility for young, mid and lower ranked players to exist. If you don’t have the big agency behind you or a big sponsor you might as well quit.”

It appears that the lower ranked a player is, the worse the situation. 524th ranked Sviatlana Pirazhenka played in 24 tournaments last year. This year she failed to get into a $60,000 event she signed up for and was an alternative entrant for two other $25,000 events.

The situation is no better for the men either. Under the transition tour, the rules are slightly different. Former player Mark Petchey, who has a daughter that plays on the ITF circuit, has previously blasted the changes.

“It’s a shambles. Everyone is responsible for this mess. It’s impossible to state how much knock in effect this will have negatively for anyone involved in tennis.” Said Petchey.

Dave Miley, who has recently announced his candidacy for the ITF presidency, has conducted one of the most comprehensive reviews of the new system yet. In a 3000-word article written on his Facebook account, he has said the governing body has failed to provide a better pathway for players, help them break even and reduce the costs of playing on the tour. Miley has previously been in charge of overseeing the juniors, veterans and wheelchair activities of the ITF.

“It appears that there will be significantly less opportunity for players to get started on the tour if they are unranked or lowly ranked or coming back from injury. It will also be hard for late developing players from developing tennis regions to get started.” Said Miley.
“Remember Kevin Anderson and Malek Jaziri were not so highly ranked as juniors and developed much later.”

Following those comments, it remains to be seen how Miley would address the changes should he become president later this year.

Whilst the ITF had good intentions with their new structure, it is debatable if it is actually working effectively. One also has to question if they took into account evidence that proved the average age of a player peaking is rising, especially on the men’s circuit.

With a growing amount of dissatisfaction, it looks like this prediction of the ‘great tennis scandal’ of 2019 by Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim is becoming more of a reality every day.

“A realization that the ITF’s transition tour—and the USTA’s capitulation—was a sloppily-conceived mistake that will stunt the growth of the sport, reduce opportunity, curtail diversity and harm college tennis.”

Only time will tell if the ITF will change their format in the future.

Fed Cup

Fed Cup Finals Draw: Australia And Czech Republic Given Tricky Tests In Budapest

Australia and Czech Republic have been handed difficult draws for the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.

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(@FedCup - Twitter)

Australia and Czech Republic have been given tricky draws ahead of the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest. 

 

The event in Hungary takes place on the 14th-19th of April on clay to prepare players for the clay-court season that will approach.

In the inaugural event there are 12 nations competing for the Fed Cup title with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.

Ahead of April’s Fed Cup finale, the draw was announced today which has seen some mouth-watering matches set to take place.

Last year’s finalist’s Australia are in Group B and they have been given tricky tests against a strong Belarus team and Belgium.

Belarus have Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Victoria Azarenka at their disposal while Belgium will be lead by Elise Mertens.

Meanwhile the other group in their half of the draw will see Czech Republic will face tough tests against Germany and a Switzerland team lead by Belinda Bencic.

On the other side of the draw, defending champions France will look to successfully defend their title when they face Russia and hosts Hungary.

Given the scenarios, this is a fairly good draw for France who would regard clay as their strongest surface and are favourites to make the last four.

In the last four, France could play USA who have been drawn with Spain and Slovakia who beat Great Britain in last weekend’s qualifiers.

Here is the full draw with the full round-robin schedule for April’s finals set to be released on Monday:

Group A

France

Russia

Hungary

Group B

Australia

Belarus

Belgium

Group C

USA

Spain

Slovakia

Group D

Czech Republic

Germany

Switzerland

Semi-Finals

Winner of Group A v Winner of Group C

Winner of Group B v Winner of Group D

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Fed Cup

Great Britain Handed Mexican Away Trip In Fed Cup Play-Off Draw

Great Britain face another away tie as they travel to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Offs.

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Harriet Dart and Anne Keothavong (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Great Britain have been handed an away trip to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Off draw as they look to compete in next year’s qualifiers. 

 

The Brits, who were without Johanna Konta in their 3-1 defeat away to Slovakia, will now head to Mexico in April looking to avoid being relegated to Zone Group I.

Just like their tie in Bratislava, they are likely to be without Johanna Konta who has one eye on the Olympic Games and also like their tie this past weekend the tie will probably be on clay.

However this time the British team will be favourites to make next year’s Fed Cup qualifiers as the Mexican don’t have a single Women’s singles player in the top 200.

There will be eight Fed Cup play-offs which will be played on the 17th and 18th of April, with the eight winners joining eight teams from the Fed Cup finals.

14 of the 16 teams are confirmed with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I still needed to be played in early March in Dubai after the Coronavirus epidemic meant that China couldn’t host the event in February.

Here is the full Fed Cup play-off draw:

(C) = Choice of Ground 

Brazil v Poland (C)

Great Britain v Mexico (C)

Canada v Serbia (C)

Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC

Japan (C) v Ukraine

Romania (C) v Italy

Kazakhstan v Argentina (C)

Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC

 

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Davis Cup

Former Tennis Star Robin Soderling Appointed Davis Cup Captain

The former world No.4 is hoping to make waves in the team competition.

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Robin Sodering has taken on a new role in the world of tennis after being appointed the captain of the Swedish Davis Cup team on Wednesday.

 

The 35-year-old takes over from Johan Hedsberg, who has held the role since January 2017. Soderling is a former world No.4 player and the last player from his country to contest a grand slam final at the 2010 French Open. After winning 10 ATP titles, his career came to an abrupt end after he failed to recover from a long-term illness. Soderling was hit by mononucleosis in 2011, a viral illness also known as glandular fever. He spent four years away from the tour before officially retiring in 2015.

“Being able to lead the best players in the country is an honour, so it was a pretty easy decision.” He told tennis.se.
“I have not thought about this, but when the question came, I immediately felt that I wanted to do this. I want it to go well for Swedish tennis.”

Sweden has won the Davis Cup seven times with their most recent triumph occurring back in 1998. They are currently playing in Group I of the Europe/Africa zone. This season the team managed to reach the World Group playoffs, but suffered a 4-0 defeat to Colombia. Sweden last played in the top tier of the competition back in 2012.

Soderling had been working with Elias Ymer, who is currently ranked 176th in the world. He is the brother of world No.76 Mikael Ymer, who is Sweden’s top men’s player. The reason for the end of their collaboration was because Soderling wanted to spend more time with his family. He is married with two children under the age of 10.

“I worked with Elias Ymer for a year and thought it was fun and educational. It was as close as you can get to your own career when playing yourself.” He said.
“But it became too much for me with over 30 trips a year. It didn’t work with my family situation. Maybe I listened too much to “Fidde” (Fredrik Rosengren) who said he had not seen his children in 25 years. I wasn’t prepared for that. I received questions after the assignment with Elias but declined no.’
“This assignment as the Davis Cup captain does not mean as many trips and given that I like tennis overall and above all Swedish tennis, the choice was easy.”

Soderling’s first test will be in March when his country takes on Chile on home soil. A team who has two top 100 players in singles. The winner will be moved into the 18-team Davis Cup finals, which was launched for the first time this year.

“Sweden has certainly not been favourites in all those matches. They have done really well.” He stated.
“If you look at the (Swedish) team, we have a good team with Mikael and Elias Ymer even though we are not super wide overall compared to many other countries that have several players in the top 100. But we are competitive and actually play for a place in Madrid against the world best team.”

During his playing career, Soderling played in 10 Davis Cup ties and won 14 out of 18 matches.

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