Sarasota IS a Tier IV (Cheap tickets)
The following is an exerpt from Bob Larson's Women's Look Forward
If Casablanca has always been weaker than its tier, Sarasota has always been absurdly stronger. Even though it's a Tier IV, the field is usually toward the upper end of the Tier III scale. It's not hard to guess why: It's close to Miami, it's close to the players' homes, it's a chance to warm up on green clay for Charleston and Amelia Island.
How strong? Strong enough that there are players in qualifying who will be getting direct entry into Charleston and Amelia Island -- players such as Jill Craybas, Lina Krasnoroutskaya, and Stephanie Foretz. Players with big results at Miami, such as Alicia Molik (not likely to be a threat on clay, though) and Marion Bartoli and Marlene Weingartner (and she could be a clay threat). Nadia Petrova is a former Top 30 player who is stuck in qualifying. Mirjana Lucic made the qualifying draw only after several players pulled out. Lilia Osterloh needed a wildcard into qualifying, and got it only because another wildcard withdrew. It really does look like the qualifying for a Tier II, not a Tier IV.
Strong enough that Paola Suarez, one of the best clay players in the field, is unseeded and opens against Jelena Dokic. Also unseeded is Iva Majoli. And Tamarine Tanasugarn (thought that's only reasonable on clay). And Daja Bedanova. And Mary Pierce. And Elena Likhovtseva. And Roland Garros semifinalist Clarisa Fernandez. And -- drumroll, please -- Conchita Martinez. On clay. This is a Tier IV, and if features eight Top 25 players!
Or try it another way: The #1 seed at Sarasota qualifying is Jill Craybas, #58 as of last week. The #1 seed in the main draw at Casablanca is Virginie Razzano, #57 last week. In other words, not one player at Casablanca would have earned direct entry into Sarasota (assuming this week's rankings were used -- there might be one or two who would have qualified based on the rankings at the time entries closed, e.g. Henrieta Nagyova).
Proud to be an American
Not blind. Not uninformed. We are party to atrocities. But the response of the world after 9/11 is worth noting. Even our most dire enemies offered aid. We should all be so lucky.