More on Player Participation
by Sean Randall | April 9th, 2006, 9:40 pm
  • 1 Comment

Okay…So clearly many of you are not seeing eye-to-eye with me on my position that the top female players on the WTA should be ashamed of themselves for only playing 41% of the tournaments at best. Thanks for the comments.

Folks…I get that Lindsay Davenport cannot play all 63 WTA events, or that she could even play half of them for a number of reasons. But my point is that tennis is a sport (the only sport i still wonder??) in which its best players are unable to play a full schedule and play less than half of the tournaments, which in most cases is less than 25%.

Ask yourself this: If you were in charge of a pro sports league or a team owner, would you really feel comfortable in your top players playing less than 25% of the scheduled events? Doubt it. And I doubt the top chiefs in the other sports – PGA, NBA, NFL, NASCAR, etc – would go for that. But somehow in tennis that’s okay. Somehow in tennis the chiefs have made it so the best players simply cannot play in all the events! Roger Federer cannot play in all the scheduled ATP events! Neither can Maria Sharapova. It simply can’t happen.

At very most, Federer could play in around 80% of all ATP/Slam tournaments.

Now again what other sport is set up that way? I cannot think of another sport where its players cannot play 100% or even 90% of events.

And in the end no wonder why tennis struggles so much on Madison Avenue. How do you sell a product in which the key participants hardly post?

This gets to my main problem with the sport and that is that tennis needs to shorten the season to the point where the top players become a bigger part of the week-to-week circuit. Right now they really aren’t. Again, I know in tennis the players cannot play 100% of the events but they need to be at least near or over 50%. That’s not asking too much, is it?

Sure some of you will say there’s no way Sharapova or Federer will play over 30 events (half of the 60 total or so) a year. But that’s why tennis needs to cut back on the number of events offered. Cut the dead weight tournaments, streamline the season and basically have one big important event per week, or around 40 events a season. Even better, keep pushing the 10-day events and the calendar could go down to around 30 events per year.

How great would that be! All the top guys playing each week and building rivalries. Instead the way the schedule is set up Andy Roddick and Federer will likely not be in the same draw until Rome the second week in May, assuming they both play that – and that’s a big assumption!

Yeah, I know that they are scheduled to both be in Monte Carlo next week, but with Andy playing Houston starting tomorrow and Roger just being Roger I think I have a better chance of being in Monte Carlo than they do. You get my drift?

Taking it a step further, April 1 and the US Open Andy and Roger – for those of you hoping to see them play against one another – will likely be in the same draw together at best 6 times. The events being Rome, Hamburg, French Open, Wimbledon, Canadian Open and Cincinnati. That’s just six times at best in the next FIVE months. And that’s if we are lucky…Is that acceptable? Not in my mind…


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One Comment for More on Player Participation

Nghi Says:

WTA needs to make all Tier I events a MUST like the Men do with their Master Series events. On the other hand, even if they make it a MUST some top players will just show up and lose in the First Round just to say they’ve shown up to play.

There are 54 weeks in a year, why not just play a tournament every two weeks, beside that of the Grand Slams and Miami and Indian Wells?

Tennis commentators and writers keep on saying how fit the players are right now. My only question is why then are all the players so freaking injured if they are that FIT?

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