View Full Version : WTA, ATP should trim length of calendars

Oct 17th, 2002, 11:56 AM
I must say I agree w/this article and have been saying the same thing for the last three years. Venus & Serena always had the right idea - but had to listen to the critics and pundits put them down for it. Of course this year they have played more - but got mentally and physically drained towards the year's end because of it.

Although - we have to give it to Serena for rolling thru tourneys in order to capture the #1 ranking. She still hasn't played the questionable 17 tourneys that are requirted in 2002. Some media types swore that would be the only way for either Venus or Serena to gain the #1 ranking. Serena proved them all wrong.

I still say they should implement my scoring system.


WTA, ATP should trim length of calendars

More stories about tennis

Post or read comments in our online forums

By Leighton Ginn
The Desert Sun
October 17th, 2002

This might sound like another cry of "the sky is falling," but the WTA and ATP might need to take action soon.

It is critical that both tours take steps in downsizing their current schedules or face losing more top stars.

This is nothing new. Many people have said and written the schedule needs to be shorter. And it’s nothing new that both tours have done nothing to address this problem.

While the schedule remains long, many stars are ending their careers prematurely.

The long tour schedule has already claimed the careers of Patrick Rafter and Jim Courier because of burnout. If Russia wins the Davis Cup in December, Yevgeny Kafelnikov will be next.

Mark Philippoussis and Richard Krajicek are only a shell of themselves any more.

You can only wonder if former No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten, who had hip surgery earlier this year, might face the same fate.

And on the women’s side, has anyone heard from Mary Pierce?

Lindsay Davenport missed most of the year after knee surgery and many wonder how much longer she’ll stay on tour.

Anna Kournikova has been besieged by ankle and foot problems the last two years.

Kim Clijsters has been trying to play all year on a bum shoulder. It’s a startling list of injuries for a non-contact sport.

The latest tennis player to take the rest of the year off is Martina Hingis, who said she came back too soon from ankle surgery.

She said she also needed to, in her words, free her mind, which suggests burnout.

Her announcement also raised speculation that Hingis might retire. She’s only 22 years old.

You have to wonder how many stars will retire prematurely before the tours do something to address the schedule.

The first place to start is any tournament after the U.S. Open, with the exception of the tour championship tournaments.

Interest drops off dramatically following the U.S. Open. What’s the point in having the season dragging on?

Yet, there are seven more weeks worth of tournaments before the tours’ championship tournaments.

Nothing good can come from playing in those seven weeks. Only bad things can happen.

Last year, Hingis and Davenport suffered their injuries after the U.S. Open.

So for the millionth time, shorten up the schedule, preserve your stars and preserve the sport.

Sam L
Oct 17th, 2002, 12:14 PM
NO the seasons are short enough already.

As a tennis fan I can't believe you want a shorter season, meaning less tournaments, and less chances to see your favourites. Tsk, Tsk.

Oct 17th, 2002, 12:30 PM
I'd like to see the tour finish at the end of October -- 10 months, with a minimum of 16 tournaments for the rankings. Regardless, if you shorten the season, the pros will just play more exhibitions and travel here and there!

Oct 17th, 2002, 12:37 PM
the season is fine as it is

the only thing wrong is the 17 tourn ruling
lower that or go back to the divisor and players will play more sensible schedules.
even saying that there will still be one or two exceptions

Oct 17th, 2002, 05:28 PM
Personally, I think the tour (WTA and ATP) fades after the US Open. I think the media stops covering most events like they do early or midway through the season. And the Year End Championship just seem anti-climatic. I don't think most people even know about the year end championships.

Oct 17th, 2002, 05:33 PM
I don't know that that's the case outside the US.

Doesn't Serena's case prove that you don't have to play yourself into the ground to do well in the rankings?

There is no ranking system or schedule on earth that will prevent people from making bad decisions.

Oct 17th, 2002, 05:38 PM
The tours should club together and one one big End Of Year Championships and make it the same system, with the top women and top men there, it'll be like a mini slam, and the interest will be greater.

I think the round robin version is more fun that the tournament version the women have, include a 3rd place play off (if they don't do that already). There would be more hype, good coverage, better audiences. Better all round.

As for scheduling. Who tells Dokic and Kafelnikov to play as much as they do? Who forces Monica to play all those exhibitions? They're adults, they earn enough money to forgo the bonus' that come with playing 17 tournaments. The Williams are a perfect example of playing when they want to.

Oct 17th, 2002, 11:15 PM
Ummmm - Sam L - why can't you just offer up your own opinion - rather than state that you can't believe me - like the others did?

veryborednow - I agree. Matter-of-fact - I agree w/most.

My thing is this: I'd bet big money that the WTA PsTB are racking their brains trying to come up w/an alternative schedule. They have been considering whether to change the rules since 2000 at the very least. Remember when they were scratching their heads about Ms. VV? They wanted to fine her and what not for pulling out of tourneys even when she declared she was injured. They even went so far as to admit that she was a big draw and that they needed her. This was even before she everrrrrrrrr reached number one mind you. So what was up?

Venus was more prone to injuries back then. Knock on wood - she hasn't had that problem this year. Here lately - she has been complaining about how tired she is - and I think it comes from a mental place. She needs to cut back to a schedule that suits her - while still trying to satisfy the WTA.

If the players felt that they could pick and choose what tourneys to enter - I'm sure they would show up - unless of course - they got injured unexpectedly.

Don't worry - changes are a coming. Like it or not. Who was that man that has several changes in store? The article even mentioned Martina & Lindsay suffering injuries after the Open last year. I believe there should be an off season - yet they should scatter tourneys towards the end of the year for the players that wish to try to better their rankings. The top dogs need a break IMO.

Btw - look at Agassi & Pete. They pick and choose - and why is that? Is it because they are on their last leg? If so - is that fair?

Oct 17th, 2002, 11:25 PM
You have to consider that total no. of tournaments is increasing every year right now, this year we have 65 or something like that. So a few times we already have 3 tournaments a week, which is a bad thing IMO. So if you shorten the season, when should all these events take place ?
I think 17-19 tournaments should be possible with a sensible schedule.
Injuries will increase, though, because they are taking away clay tournaments and play more and more on hard-court which is really dumb. If they played the whole season on clay and grass, I think there would be only half as many injuries.

Brian Stewart
Oct 18th, 2002, 12:05 AM
The problem isn't with the length of the season or the required # of tourneys for the rankings. It's with the scheduling of the players themselves. Playing too many tournaments too close together. Lindsay has frequently been injured after such a stretch. Her post-US Open injury last year was after playing 4 tournaments in a row. And she usually plays the 3 California tourneys + New Haven + the US Open, which makes 5 of a possible 6 events (and 6 of 7 weeks) on hard courts.

And Dokic's play-every-week schedule is going to wear one down sooner or later, whether the season is 44 weeks long, or 24.
In the late 80's, Lendl was calling for a reduction in the minimum tourneys required for a ranking. Not to save wear and tear on his body, but so he'd have more weeks free for exhibitions. Likewise, any player who plays a boatload of exhibitions in the offseason has no right to complain about the season being too long.

And contrary to the writer's claim, the WTA hasn't done "nothing" about it. For starters, they have shortened the season by a couple of weeks. For those of us who can remember back to the last century :), the season used to end around Thanksgiving. And start before New Year's. The other main thing the tour has done is to re-align the touraments more geographically, to minimize travel wear-and-tear. I've mentioned a few times what Martina Navratilova did in early 1993 (at age 36), when, in a 15-day period, she beat Steffi, lost a 3-set final to Monica, then beat Monica in a final. Those 3 tournaments Martina played were, in order, in Tokyo, then Chicago, then Paris. 3 different continents in 3 weeks. And it wasn't even an orderly transition of Asia-Europe-US. It was Asia-US-Europe. Such jumping around was much more common back then.

Now, the tour schedule has a more smooth flow. They aligned their 3 California tournaments together. When the Tour Championships were in the US, they moved their indoor US events right in front of it, instead of having a lot of jumping around back-and-forth between continents.

They can do more. Such as requiring all indoor events to be on carpet or some more forgiving surface, instead of hard courts.

The men's tour should drop the "required" events. It's not working anyway. Top players are still skipping "mandatory" Masters Series tourneys. If they want to encourage the top players to support these events, raise the rankings points, and eliminate the appearance fees at other events (make them illegal). But let the players pick and choose, and not be forced to play (å la Safin, when he was hurting).

Oct 18th, 2002, 02:49 AM
Both tours should go back to the divisor rule., making the minimum divisor 14 (based on the 4 Slams + 9 Masters Series/Tier 1 + Championships) Although players should not be required to play in each Masters Series or Tier 1 event...I'm only using the number of MS/T1 tourneys to say how many ATP/WTA tournaments are a resonable amount of events for a player to play.

I agree that the calendars shrinking won't do any good. All that'll do is give the players less time in between tournaments, because they'll play the exact same events.

The Vampiress
Oct 18th, 2002, 03:37 AM
Dissagree, Player should be mature enough to make their own commitments, if they make themselves play to much then it's their fault if they get burn out and injurries, there old enough and ugly enough to make mature decisions on belhalf of their season.

Oct 18th, 2002, 03:47 AM
what do most tennis players do on their time off??

they play exhibiition matches for tons of dineros in far-flung places...

best argument i ever heard for leaving the tours exactly as they are.

players need to hire professional trainers to help them stay fit and healthy. that's the solution IMO...;) ;)

Sam L
Oct 18th, 2002, 05:34 AM
Originally posted by Brian Stewart
The problem isn't with the length of the season or the required # of tourneys for the rankings. It's with the scheduling of the players themselves. Playing too many tournaments too close together.

And contrary to the writer's claim, the WTA hasn't done "nothing" about it. For starters, they have shortened the season by a couple of weeks. For those of us who can remember back to the last century :), the season used to end around Thanksgiving. And start before New Year's. The other main thing the tour has done is to re-align the touraments more geographically, to minimize travel wear-and-tear.

I cannot agree more with these statements by Brian.

Gogogirl, I can't believe people like you and others on this board, who comes along and wants a shorter season. N.B: It's ALREADY short!

I don't want an off-season. This isn't NBA, NFL or some other American pro sport. This is tennis. I want my tennis 11 months of the year and 1 month of exhibitions. ALL TENNIS ALL THE TIME!

Oct 18th, 2002, 09:47 AM
I'm sorry, but I feel it's impossible for us non-players to understand what the players are going through when they play on the tour. If so many of the top players are saying that the tour is too long and that they're expected to play so much, who are we to say that they shouldn't feel that way? I think their opinion should count for a lot.

As for the whole exhibition argument, I would think exhibitions are a lot less energy-sapping than actual tournaments. There isn't the same pressure; the atmosphere is much more relaxed; and exhibitions are usually one-night one-match deals as opposed to the whole four or five matches per week situation that tournaments have.

Personally, I think the tours should end shortly after the U.S. Open, maybe after a joint ATP-WTA Japan Open in Tokyo and then the Tour Championships in Los Angeles in early October.

Oct 18th, 2002, 12:02 PM
tommyk75 - you hit the nail right on the head IMO. We should listen to the players that feel the season may be a tad too long, after all - they are the ones playing.

What good can come of it for the WTA, pray tell if all of our top players were MIA due to injury - or due to the fact that they were mentally tired? What good would it be if they started to worry more about traveling to other countries w/all the terrorism going on - so they opt out of some tourneys. What good would it be if they were forced to play 17 tournaments when they only wish to play a lesser amount?

Most of our top players are wealthy and don't have to play at all. The tide seems to be shifting to where some players know their goal is not to gain the #1 ranking - they just want to do well in the slams.

Can someone provide a list of how many tourneys the top players have played in this year? We know about Jelena.

The bottom line IMO is this: just like Pete & Andre, and just like Jen mentioned - and some others - the slams are the most important tourneys to them - w/the tier one's being second. These players will not continue to bust their butts trying to fit 17 tourneys into their schedule ever again.

The reason TPTB are looking into this entire debate - is to decide if they should change the rules and offer up some sort of off season - for if they don't - they may run the risk of losing some of the top players at some major events - and again - what good would that do/bring to the WTA?

Shortening the season by two weeks ain't gonna get it IMO. So - we'll see.

Sam L
Oct 18th, 2002, 01:41 PM
Listen to the players

So far I've only heard JENN complain, but then she's been complaining about a lot of things.

Venus & Serena have fashion school and other commitments. It's not because of exhaustion, it's because of outside interests that they want time off. I'm sorry, I love them but that's the well known truth.

Oct 18th, 2002, 04:01 PM
Huh? Serena just pulled out of several tournaments citing "exhaustion," and Venus talked about how tired she was after losing in Moscow. Venus also talked about having played too much after playing in Antwerp and Dubai earlier in the year. They certainly have outside interests, but they do get tired when they play a lot; after all, they're only human.

Also, Jennifer is NOT the only player who has complained. Lindsay, Monica, Conchita, and Kim have all talked about it in the past.