Top 5 Moments in Tennis This Week 4-9

WTA and ATP players left Miami for Charleston, Monterrey and Davis cup.


5. The ITF announced a major restructuring of entry-level professional tennis, ie ITF Prof Circuit (Men and Women) with the inception of a new global ITF Transition Tour in 2019.

The reform programme is in response to a three-year ITF Player Pathway review of professional and junior tennis that included an analysis of player and event data from 2001-13, and a survey of more than 50,000 stakeholders. The review established that there are too many players trying to compete on the professional circuit; too few players are breaking even; and the age of these players is increasing…These tournaments [new tour] will be held within a localised circuit structure that reduces costs and increases opportunity for players, and reduces staging costs for organisers.

Transition Tour tournaments will be created through the repositioning of the existing $15,000 (Level I) tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit that will no longer be held as part of the Pro Circuit in 2019. Transition Tour tournaments will offer ITF Entry Points instead of ATP/WTA ranking points, with the two systems linked to ensure that the more successful players are able to use their ITF Entry Points to gain acceptance into ITF Pro Circuit tournaments.

It is not clear that this change will actually be beneficial to players. Will 1.5 million to the Pro Circuit Tour, the goal of decreasing the number of players, removal  of level 1 tournaments and changing ranking points achieve the IFT’s stated goals? Moreover, with ITF ranking points instead of WTA/ATP ranking points, how will the system determine who gains acceptance into the ITF Pro Circuit? The press release would have benefitted from some work with a PR professional. As has become customary, the ATP and WTA Presidents, Chris Kermode and Steve Simon, have yet to comment publically on this major change. Why didn’t the ITF revamp the circuit tours instead of adding yet another tour?

4. Sure branding is important as is sponsorship, but the ever-changing names of tournaments is harmful to the sport. This maybe even more detrimental than the court signage including betting houses. This week’s WTA Tournament has two distinct names. Charleston Open. Volvo Car Open. This is quite ineffective marketing from the WTA. Yet another way the tour is crippled by poor management and vision. This is not relegated to the WTA alone. The ATP too has taken the money. Houston is Fayez Sarofim & Co. Us Men’s Clay Court Championship and Marrakech is Grand Prix Hassan II.

3. Nice to see Stephens in commentator mode this week. She was professional yet charming even when probed to comment on her boyfriend’s, Jack Sock, chances in his Davis Cup match against Kyrgios. She’s proven her knowledge of the sport and more importantly her ability to talk effectively with a variety of players and tennis professionals. She clearly shone. She is magnetic and a second career awaits her, if she wants it…

2. Kerber wisely ducked the more high-profile Premiere Charleston Open for Monterrey even though it is a small hard-court event. She and her team undoubtedly saw this as an opportunity to build confidence, get match play and fine tune her off the rails game. She has had a slow and disappointing start to the year. In the seven tournaments she has played, she has only reached the semi-finals in one, Dubai. After a noteworthy year in 2016, on would expect a bit of a let down but like Muguruza she is overwhelmed by her success. Last year she won two grand slams, the US Open and Australian Open, and reached the finals at Brisbane, Wimbledon, Olympics, Cincinnati and the WTA Finals. Let’s hope the lower-profile wins in Monterrey was the tune-up she needed: Schiavone>Minella>Watson>Suarez-Navvaro 7(8)-6, 6-1.

1. In Charleston Rogers impressed, Kasatkina dominated and Ostapenko outlasted. The young-ins came to dethrone the veterans: Venus, Keys, Wozniacki, Lucic-Baron, Safarova, and Stosur. Most disappointing was Keys’ round two defeat to Rogers 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 and Venus’ to Siegemund 6-4, 6-7, 7-5. While Venus’s match was winnable. Keys’ simply wasn’t. The Charleston native, Shelby Rogers, was on fire and into the quarterfinals, giving America hope if only momentary. However, Ostapenko is the queen of the ball in the singles and doubles final.

Also:

Winners This Week:

  • Charleston Singles and Doubles-TBD
  • Monterrey Kerber lost to Pavlyuchenkova 4-6, 6-2, 1-6
  • Davis Cup USA/AUS 2-3, France/GB 4-1, Serbia/Spain 4-1, Belguim/Italy 3-2

Next Week:

  • Two Outdoor Clay ATP 250 Tournaments: Houston and Marrakech April 8-16.
  • Two International WTA Tournaments: Bogota (Clay) and Biel (Hard) April 10-15/16.
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