The tennis season is over but the exo season is kicking into full gear. This week the IPTL in Asia relaunched offering participants plenty of money after a long, arduous season.
Unless a significant charity component is involved, the tours – the WTA and ATP – have always shunned these type of exos which confuse fans (Do these matches count? Are they part of the ATP/WTA?), damages the field of sanctioned tournaments (Why play an ATP/WTA event when I could make more in exo money for doing less?) and could lead to injury and exhaustion for top players who are prone to chasing money (just see how many stars are playing this week!).
Last year, ahead of the launch of the IPTL, new ATP CEO Chris Kermode slighted the series.
“There have always been exhibitions,” Kermode said. “There always will continue to be exhibitions. I think what has caused this to be an issue is the word ‘league.’ This is just a series of glorified exhibitions. I actually don’t have a problem with it. It’s very light entertainment. It’s no problem that players can go and play in it. They’re not going to be playing at 100%.”
And since, the ATP has never once acknowledged the IPTL on their website, player biographies or anywhere in their media releases.
But the WTA has apparently come around after also ignoring the league in 2014. Yesterday, on their website they posted a short preview of their top stars who are in the competition. And today they posted a story of Serena’s loss to Pliskova.
That’s the same Serena who after losing at the US Open didn’t play a single WTA match including the WTA Finals tournament the rest of the season. Yet here she is playing a non-WTA, exo event in Kobe, Japan and the WTA acknowledges it, promotes it and by all measure, appears to be okay with it.
The WTA did just hire a new CEO, Steve Simon. So maybe this reflects a sea change in philosophy toward exos? Maybe any tennis is good for tennis?
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