Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Sometimes U.S./Sometimes Asia
Co-Ed Tournaments: A Great Idea Or Asking For WTA Trouble?
As you might have heard, a lot of the top events are gearing up to feature the men and the women together in the near future. The ATP's new version of the Masters Series plans to eventually have co-ed fields at Madrid, Rome, Cincinnati, and also possibly in China, in addition to Indian Wells and Miami, which have co-ed fields already. In addition, a lot of other lower-level (but still notable) tournaments have gone co-ed in recent years, including New Haven and Moscow. And there are rumors that Charleston is going to have a concurrent men's tournament pretty soon.
I know that many people think it's a great idea, as fans can appreciate men's and women's tennis at the same venue, and the events can generate more attention from both fans and the media.
Personally though, I think the WTA is in danger of becoming too dependent on the ATP and putting itself in danger. Why? Well, WTA has worked hard to make their events successful and lucrative without any support from the men for many, many years. However, several of those long-running events have been jettisoned in order to latch onto ATP events. The hugely successful event in San Diego is gone, replaced by the new to-be-co-ed event in Cincinnati. Amelia Island has been downgraded on the new Roadmap plan.
If the current trend continues, there may be very few WTA-only top events left. That could have serious ramifications in the future. What would happen if the ATP suddenly went back to viewing the women with contempt, or if sponsorship dollars started going down for whatever reason? It's very conceivable that the ATP and the tournament directors might drop the women from the co-ed events. That would leave the women would almost nothing, as the previously faithful communities such as San Diego would understandably be reluctant to go back in business with the same WTA that dropped them in the first place.
Also, I have already noticed that the TV coverage in co-ed events has been dominated by coverage for the men. On the Tennis Channel, you would think that the New Haven event was a men's only event, as they showed one James Blake match after another, ignoring the women pretty much altogether (even though it was the women who really made that event successful in the first place). The WTA needs TV coverage to show the public there are other players besides Sharapova and the Williams sisters. It will become even tougher to do that if all the coverage gets taken by the men.
So personally, I think the WTA needs to secure its independence and future by not going overboard with the ATP partnership. What do you guys think about the trend?