The WTA Now Supports The IPTL, The ATP Still Does Not
by Tom Gainey | December 3rd, 2015, 11:32 am

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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11 Comments for The WTA Now Supports The IPTL, The ATP Still Does Not

elina Says:

Maybe the IPTL considers the ATP a glorified exhibition.

Money talks.

Ben Pronin Says:

It is kinda strange. It’s not like the ATP has to award points or money or anything of the like to the players. But the players are out there promoting tennis in places that don’t usually have sanctioned tournaments. Why not acknowledge it and say “look at our awesome ambassadors?”

Exhibitions are just exhibitions, not some kind of heinous treachery.

RZ Says:

Probably all for PR purposes and staying current with news.

jalep Says:

Didn’t pay much attention to IPTL last year, Tom Gainey, but this year Tennis Channel is covering some of it from now until December 20.

So I watched some yesterday.

What I saw was a couple old favorites – great to see Santoro and Marat. Marat not in the best shape, I didn’t think.
Very interesting mixed doubles match – one team especially caught my eye: Sharapova and Pierre Hugues-Herbert. Was hoping Maria would notice how smart and charming PHH was :D They won their match.

And Tom, your questions are my questions:

1.”Do these matches count?” It’s marketing/growing tennis in Japan, India, Singapore, UAE, and Philippines. If you are asking do they count for ATP or WTA ranking points? No. I don’t think that’s the point of IPTL – looks like hit and giggle = why it’s perfect for Monfils and Kyrigos. It gives the experience and feeling of being a team sport but lacks the serious edge and competition of Davis or Fed Cup.
For anyone having not seen IPTL:

2. “Are they part of the ATP/WTA?” No, not yet, anyway. Looks as physically demanding as putt-putt golf, to me. Look at the format:

Each player plays one set. One set! 5 sets are played: Women’s singles, Men’s singles, Doubles, Mixed doubles, and a Legend’s set.

2.”Why play an ATP/WTA event when I could make more in exo money for doing less?” Very interesting question. This crossed my mind when hearing Nick Kyrigos interviewed. Basically he said: Team Sport is what I love and it’s more fun and exciting than regular season serious sport.

My impression is that it would be fun to have a ticket if IPTL came to my city but – it’s not ATP/WTA level competition the way it’s set up now. I don’t know if it will ever be a league to take seriously – too soon to tell, my guess.

jalep Says:

Oops. Sharapova and Pierre Hugues Herbert won their SET, not Match. The team combines to win a match. As I said above, can’t see how playing IPTL is physically demanding compared to anything on the WTA/ATP calendars or anything as high quality and stressful as Davis or Fed Cup.

Watched more this afternoon.

It’s a lot of travel but maybe worth it, depending…

Fans in Kobe were enjoying it. Was fun to see Kei.

One of those links above meant to be this one, in case anyone hasn’t seen the website:

Who is your favorite team?

jane Says:

is it true that wawa and kyrgios are playing on the same team at the IPTL. if so… :D hope that goes well.

elina Says:

Too bad that Agassi and Sampras decided not to return to IPTL this year.

Both looked quite out of place against there senior cohorts last year so not a huge surprise.

I believe that they were likely the oldest of the senior group.

jalep Says:

jane, It’s true.

But only Nick the kid was in Kobe – no Stan. Singapore Slammers are in Manila next.

Milos no longer wearing the sleeve!

jane Says:

thanks jalep.
wow milos ditched ljubicic and the sleeve? radical!

Wog Boy Says:

Does that mean that Milos kept Riccardo Piatti as his head coach?

Alexandra Says:

I think it is clear to tennis fans that exos don’t count. Let’s not make them appear that dumb.

Personally, I don’t care too much about this league, but it’s nice to see the players have fun. It’s not something you see on the regular tour. If they would be coming to my city, I would go to, exo or not.

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