Change the ITF Tennis Rules
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The future of professional tennis has gone under a drastic change in 2019. Many players believe this could be the end of their dream.
Here are the main reasons why:
1. The current professional rankings have ended up with close to 750 players for men and 850 women. At the end of 2018, there were almost 2000 men and 1250 women.
2. $15,000 professional tournaments are no longer considered professional tournaments; they don’t award professional points.
3. Many players continue to compete in $15,000's (even top 200 players!) because there are many that are held for consecutive weeks in the same place. This is not the case for $25,000's. This will mean that all players will have to significantly increase their budget to travel to a different place on a weekly basis for $25,000's and other tournaments (where currently many players don’t even enter the qualifying).
4. All ITF events have reduced their qualifying draw sizes from 128/64/48/32 to 24. Due to this, hundreds of players aren’t even able to compete. The solution has been to offer a pre-qualifying draw which is up to the discretion of the tournament organizer to host or not, and even then it’s yet another additional obstacle for players.
Yes, this means all players who lost their WTA/ATP ranking because of the new system are not considered professional anymore, only those who have points from $25,000’s or higher are (note: in men’s $25k events only the winner and finalist earn ATP points). Their professional status has been taken away from them. Their chances of winning professional points in $15,000's doesn’t exist anymore. All the best professional tennis players seen on TV today and all the tennis legends won some of their first professional points by competing in entry-level tournaments, the equivalent of $15,000's today. This 'first step' is so important for all professional players, and now it’s gone.
All tennis players who work hard every day to win their first professional point in a $15,000 tournament have been denied. The very essence of beginning a professional career, as well as continuing one, will be extinguished for many tennis players around the world if these changes persist. Many players have already said that since these changes happened, they will probably quit.
This is happening because the ITF (International Tennis Federation) ordered a major restructuring of entry-level professional tennis. They have implemented their own ranking system that will award players "transition points" in $15,000's to redeem for a spot to play in 'real professional events', such as $25,000's. In fact, they have already said that by 2020, they plan to entirely remove $25,000's from the men's professional tournament category. This is due to a study (found here) that shows there are currently ~14,000 players competing in professional tournaments, of which almost half do not earn any prize money.
Tennis players may be alone on the court, but this is a calling for all of them to come together and say "no" to these changes. For all their team members, family, tennis fans, and all people around the world to stand up against this injustice. Our goal is to reach 10,000 unique signatures until it’s impossible to keep ignoring our voice.
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