There’s a method to the seeming madness in the WTA Tour announcing a second season-ending tournament to start in 2009 in Bali, Indonesia.
Another year-end championship? For the “losers” that fail to qualify for the season-ending Top 8 WTA Tour Championships in Doha? Huh?
There is no “Super Bowl II” where the third- and fourth-place NFL teams play each other. There’s no “Loser’s World Series,” or PGA Tour event featuring the non-top finishers, nor a NASCAR race for the Danica Patricks and Dick Trickles (Is he still racing? If not, bring him back) of racing. But the WTA Tour may be on to something here.
The event in Bali will do a trial run from 2009-2011, featuring the Top 8 players who didn’t qualify for the “real” year-end championships, but did the best in a series of Asian tournaments to be staged on the new-look WTA Tour calendar mainly during the end of the year. In other words, the WTA Tour is offering a wad of cash ($600,000) for the next-tier level of pseudo-marquee players such as Daniela Hantuchova, Martina Hingis and Elena Dementieva, and up-and-comers who they hope to entice into actually playing events at the end of the year instead of putting in half-hearted schedules after the US Open — when they realize they’re already out of the running for the Top 8 championships.
In other words, former ATP employee and current WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott is realizing that money talks (see: the ATP bringing back a crazy-large year-end “bonus pool” for top players), and props to the movers (if not shakers) in tennis realizing that wagging the dollars (see: appearance fees that are supposed to be illegal but occur everywhere — kind of like gambling!) is the way to get players to show up at events with racquets in hand instead of fake doctor’s notes.
“It’s great that we will be featuring and promoting in their very own end-of-year finale a group of world class players who are vying to one day be number one in the world,” said Daniela Hantuchova in a press release quote that not only probably didn’t come out of her mouth but makes little sense. “I have always loved playing in Bali and am sure the Commonwealth Bank International Championships will create great excitement among those players competing in the 2009 international level events with the hope of qualifying for Bali.”
Press-releases-as-fake-quotes aside, props to the WTA Tour for an innovation that, carried out correctly, could actually work.
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