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View Full Version : Wildcard Debate/Tennis Australia Shamozzle, left a BIG hole in Aust Rankings!


AUSBOY
May 20th, 2003, 03:42 AM
First I agree with what Louloubelle said in another post in that wildcards should be used 'with a look to the future'.

When awarding players wildcard they need to look at what progress has been made in the last 12 months, what achievements that player has made, what the players finances are like and also what their current form is.

They need to set minimum requirements for a main draw wildcards to the Aust Open. For example I think a player needs to be a top 20 Junior in the world, have won a $25K event or above, or strung two consecutive top 150 wins in a $50K event or above.

Hence I fully supported Dellacqua's main draw wildcard. She had shown before the Aust Open had some promising results with a rapid rise up the rankings that warranted her receiving one.

The Szili decision on the other hand was a disgrace, she had no results other than a few $10K finals, and no form coming into the Aust Open. She had even lost first round of the Aussie Training Camp tournament if I recall.

Granting the likes of Olivia Lukawicesz, Daniela Dominikovic and Lauren Cheung and Daniela Dominikovic qualifying wildcards was also beyond ridiculous. Most of these girls hadnt even played a Junior Grand Slam, the first 3 won a total of 6 games combined!!! Its not like they needed the money either! The Juniors already get humungous amounts of financial support, all their trips are paid for overseas, as well as all their coaches! The whole quick 'qualifying experience' at the expense of more worthy recipients was a waste of money!

If you look back five years to Dokic, Tennis Australia never gave her a wildcard to the Australian Open until she was 15.5 years and had played a year of Junior Slams, a WTA event, and a few challengers first, and thats the way it should be! There was no point rushing a qualifying wildcard to her before her 15th birthday, it was never going to gain her anything other than money that isnt required at that age and belies a false sense of success! All Olivia's humilation this year taught her was that she needs to develop power to her game which is obvious to a petite 14yo!

Getting back to the issue of wildcards though, they do need to be distributed carefully, and up and comers should get there fair share however Tennis Australia also need to support the players still trying to make that vital breakthrough and a big part of this support is financial!

One thing that should not be a factor when allocating wildcards is AGE!

How quickly people/Tennis Australia forget that at age 25 Nicole Pratt was ranked 180 before she qualified and won a round at Wimbledon and she wasnt the only late bloomer, look at her now! Kerry-Anne Guse former top 60 player made her big ranking rise aged 26-27. Both these players were well supported with wildcards right throughout their careers, its no wonder they made it! The finance from the wildcards allowed them to maintain their top 200 rank and play at the top level throughout the year. Catherine Barclay is another example of a player that peaked late having a successful Fed Cup doubles record before injury, Rennae Stubbs as well.

Last year was Cindy Watson's first year playing the Grand Slams and WTA events. It was a huge learning experience for her. You can say, yeah she hardly had any wins but in hindsight she went from Obscruity of a rank of 383 to a rank of 135 in 9 months at age 24! She had no prior experience at WTA level so it was always going to be a tough year for her. I thought she performed admirably at the French Open and Wimbledon winning a round at both. The experience she gained from last year was huge. In Hobart 2003 she lost a tight match to Cara Black 6-3 7-6. She was gearing herself up for the Aust Open only to have all her dreams shattered. Its no wonder she's disheartened. I would imagine too she's in a quandry whether or not to continue which is a shame given that she was Australia's third ranked player most of last year! Support for players ranked 120-280 is vital from Tennis Australia, they need to be recognised and acknowledged. A once off ranking breakthrough reward isnt enough in my opinion.

The same goes for Dittmann, snubbed her whole career by Tennis Australia until she finally cracked the top 250 she was awarded a wildcard into 2001 Aust Open qualies, she won a round, her ranking then improved to 210, she gained her own place in the 2002 qualifying and won a round there again, and then got inside the top 200 after winning a round at Wimbledon qualies. Unfortunately she was unable to defend some of her Australian Unity points and her rank slipped back for the first time in 4 years to 240. She was the 7th ranked Australian and yet didnt get a wildcard into qualifying. Do you think it was fair that a player that has battled so hard for so long to get where she had deserved such a snubbing? Especially since she was ranked so close to the cut off anyway and had won matches in 3 of her last 4 Grand Slam qualfying tournaments. I believe Mireille was left a bit bewildered after the whole Australian circuit which has definitely made her life a lot harder. I mean they couldnt even compensate her with a Doubles wildcard at the Australian Open even though her ranking in doubles was in the top 200 at the time and she had reached 2 WTA Q/F in doubles the previous year!!

People will say, yeah she's 28 and she had been playing for years and doesnt have the talent otherwise she would have made it by now, but that is small mindedness. If you had followed her results you would know that financially its been very tough and a very long haul. In her earlier years she was struggling to be able to afford to play up to 15 tournaments a year, and thats not a lot! Its difficult to build a good ranking from that when the tournaments are spaced out so much and having to compete against girls that have played a lot more and are more match tough. Finally though to her credit she did crack the top 300 which helped allow her to be able to afford to play more tournaments which is what helped her break into the top 200 briefly.

Think about this though, after the Australian Circuit, Australia's 7th ranked player had $300 in prize money to her name, and that was only because her ranking had been high enough to gain direct entry into the qualifying at Hobart where she lost in 3 sets. Dont you think thats somethings wrong in the system for this to happen?? Where is the support for her to continue??? That didnt even cover her plane ride to Hobart!! And now she is expected to finance her next ten months of travel with what?? Thats if she hopes to at least maintain a top 300 ranking which of course she wants!!!

On the other hand you have Szili walking away with about $22,000 dollars, a lazy attitude and winless! Spoon feeding our players straight out of juniors like this isnt going to help them. Szili is in for a rude shock next year, she may well find herself at the end of the Australian Circuit with $300 and a quandry on how she's going to afford her next 10 months travel expenses! I think if Szili hadnt been granted the Aust Open wildcard we would have been seeing a different Adriana now. She would be more desperate to win her matches knowing that the money was just as important as the ranking points. Instead she is doing all this travelling this year with plenty of money in the bank which she never really earnt in the first place. Her lazy attitude was shown at the Albury $10K masters when she couldnt even be bothered to go and play the doubles there after qualifying. Even when she had promised commitment to Van Elden to play the full series with her.

In hindsight Tennis Australia did make some mistakes whether they care to admit them or not. Looking at the rankings now its pretty obvious their mistakes have contributed to our now woeful rankings which have left a big gaping hole!

Looking down the list we have

1.) Pratt 49
2.) Molik 51
3.) Dominikovic 109
4.) Stosur 139
5.) Wheeler 156
6.) McQuillan 176

BIT OF A HOLE DEVELOPED HERE NOW, MAYBE DUE TO LACK OF WILDCARDS FOR OUR PLAYERS RANKED 200 to 350 at this years Aust Open!!!!!!!

7.) Grahame inj. 235 but falls to 260 next week
8.) Dittmann 262 but falls to 275 next week
9.) Watson 265
10.) Breadmore 268
11.) McShea 295
12.) Stewart 298
13.) Dellacqua 312
14.) Musgrave 332
15.) Horiatopolous 356
16.) Sekulowski 368
17.) Adamzcak 395
18.) Roberts 432
19.) Dowse 441
20.) Baker 460
21.) Belobradjic 467
22.) Van Elden 469
23.) Sewell 476
24.) Hewitt 500
25.) Cheung 517

26.) Szili 528 :rolleyes: Yes she's number 26 in Australia and got preference over 19 players ranked higher than her!!!!

27.) Welford 599
28.) Cupac 666
29.) Stone 705
30.) Barr 758

I'd be the first to say the McQuillans, and Stewarts dont deserve more wildcards. But their are exceptions to late developers like the Watsons and Dittmann's etc. they may be 25+ now but they still deserved their chance this year on their improvements, even more so since they have basically never received wildcards or any support in the past from Tennis Australia! Its a pity TA didnt recognise this and we may soon find that these two will be hanging up their racquets this year.

Anyway I think I have typed enough anyway hehe, this has taken forever, have your say!

Gowza
May 20th, 2003, 04:05 AM
i don't know whether daniella dominikovic deserved her qualies wildcard but i like seeing her get it. i think she is one of our only juniors that already has the power at a young age i think ferguson also has the power. the others i agree it wasn;t a good idea. daniella did quite well in the first set of her match so hopefully it is a good sign for the future and i think she'll get one next year for doing that well.

TS
May 20th, 2003, 07:13 AM
It's quite alarming to see the 'vets' dropping like sacks of potatoes in the ranks this year...it does lend weight to your argument, but on the other hand they (the players) aren't entirely blameless for their drop in the rankings. They are old enough and experienced enough to handle these obstacles, and we can't just blame the fact that they didn't get WC's as being the reason for their downfall.

I agree in that some WC decision's have been a bit suspect, but I'm all for the kids getting a taste of the big time (as louloubelle said in another thread recently), and hey if they crumble in a heap later on, maybe they weren't cut out for it in the first place? Better to learn that now, than later.

Look, I do feel for the likes of Watson and Dittmann (I felt Mirielle was a bit hard done by considering she was so close to the qualy cut off), but whats done is done. They didnt let their racquest do the talking during the summer and unfortunately it's results that count. If you dont deliever at a certain age, then bad luck. That's the way it is (whether or not we agree with it is another matter entirely!)

Anyway, a well thought out post...and it is rather depressing to see that huge gap between Rachel and the others below her. But hey, they have to put it behind them and get off their butts and achieve something now.

I'll comment more on this later I have a really long drive home in the pouring rain coming up :rolleyes: ;)

Rising Sun
May 20th, 2003, 07:20 AM
I'm not going to argue whether Lauren Cheung deserved that qualifying WC or not, but she definitely did deserve it more than Olivia & Daniella.

Here's some info:
* She finished 2002 ranked 540
* Her win-loss record for 2002 was: 25-19.
* She reached 2 $10K SFs in 2002
* She's played in 2 Junior GS maindraws.
* She took 6 games off Libuse Prusova (Top 110 at the time) at Sydney the previous week of Aus Open qualies.

I'm sure there were a few players more deserving of that WC than Lauren, but it was not a total loss in itself.

AUSBOY
May 20th, 2003, 08:20 AM
Not gonna disagree that Lauren was more deserving than the other 3. I didnt totally disagree with her wildcard, more the result and the way she played. To me it indicated that she was no where near ready for that!

I thought Deanna Roberts, Trudi Musgrave and Mireille Dittmann had better claims to being in the qualifying than her.

Deanna had gone from 1200's to low 400's, winning a $10K and also another final.

Trudi reached the Q/Finals in the doubles at the French Open which was huge for her confidence, that new confidence saw her reach the Q/F of a $50K, her singles ranking went from 345 to 270. She seemed to be on the way up again, even in Sydney the week before she had pushed world number 20 Lisa Raymond to 3 sets!

And Mireille of course had reached the 2nd round of qualies the previous two years here, and at Wimbledon, had some good wins over top 150 players in $50K events and reached a career high 197. I have to say it was so sad seeing Mireille with her mother and sister in the stands.

broncosven
May 20th, 2003, 10:36 AM
I agree totally about what everyone is saying

The basic problme is seperating poteintail and true poteintail and wildcards have alwayz been a hot topic

although what i feel has already been posted ill add this

At the Queensland tennis Open in January of the 3 wildcards on offer in the main draw - sammie stosur got one and the others went to a japense and a thai player.

That experince can prove invaluable to a player and tennis australia should award them accordingly.

Although u must realisse how long is long enough of giving woldcards especially to Stewart and Watson - we know they are young but the thing is they play good at the OZ open and then have a crap year then lose points when tennis aussie doesnt give them another wild card

Perhaps more tornaments held in aust???

but at this rate we will never catch up to superpowers US, Spain and Russia

AUSBOY
May 20th, 2003, 10:49 AM
Broncosven - Watson has never been given a wildcard to the main draw in any Australian event except in Hobart this year. She earnt her wildcard last year due to her results in the Australian Unity Tour.

I think there is a big difference between earning the wildcard for winning a series or tournament rather than just being handed it.

Stewart on the other hand has had at least 3 main draw Aust Open wildcards handed to her and in my opinion doesnt deserve another until she can break the top 130 on her own merit!

louloubelle
May 20th, 2003, 04:04 PM
Great post Ausboy, some great insights and you are obviously very passionate about Aus women's tennis which is great :)

TS - you've pretty such summed up my point of view in your post, alot more succinctly than I would've posted too. ;)

It's quite alarming to see the 'vets' dropping like sacks of potatoes in the ranks this year...it does lend weight to your argument, but on the other hand they (the players) aren't entirely blameless for their drop in the rankings. They are old enough and experienced enough to handle these obstacles, and we can't just blame the fact that they didn't get WC's as being the reason for their downfall.

This where I totally agree. The excuses have to stop and if players are going to let one set back ruin their career and send them into retirement then basically they haven't got what it takes to make it on the tour anyway. These girls shouldn't be putting all their hopes on w/c's and should be thankful that unlike other countries they have the chance to get one!! The opportunities will come if the results come, regardless of age.... because it's not like the competition is sooo feirce that any truly worthy players (i.e someone that wins often) will miss out.

I agree in that some WC decision's have been a bit suspect, but I'm all for the kids getting a taste of the big time (as louloubelle said in another thread recently), and hey if they crumble in a heap later on, maybe they weren't cut out for it in the first place? Better to learn that now, than later.

Ditto again. But I can see the point with Szili vs. Watson, however the best way to solve a w/c issue is to have a playoff - which i have advocated over and over and over again. Therefore if Watson can't beat the Szili's and Dellacquas then she couldn't be upset by missing out. It's really the only fair way if it looks like a decision can't be made by results. Same again with Daniella, Olivia, Sophie and Trudi/Mirielle. Fight to the death :devil:

Look, I do feel for the likes of Watson and Dittmann (I felt Mirielle was a bit hard done by considering she was so close to the qualy cut off), but whats done is done. They didnt let their racquest do the talking during the summer and unfortunately it's results that count. If you dont deliever at a certain age, then bad luck. That's the way it is (whether or not we agree with it is another matter entirely!)

Anyway, a well thought out post...and it is rather depressing to see that huge gap between Rachel and the others below her. But hey, they have to put it behind them and get off their butts and achieve something now.

Pratt and Guse DID get off their butts and achieve something. And it wasn't through wildcards either. Infact Nicole was recipient of many w/c over the years and really during that time I think she was a soft player. Guse and Pratt made their mark by finally realising they had to get fit (from advice from lesley bowrey) and the results came. The many girls in their 20's need to look at what Pratt and the likes have done, work towards that and take some responsibility.

However I cannot advocate giving a wildcard judging by a players financial status. Wildcards can't be issued because a junior has money and a battler doesn't. The system isn't designed to be giving handouts to players. Wildcards should be judged on merit and the future in mind, nothing else. The system is flawed as it is without another flaw!

Vicky88
May 20th, 2003, 05:49 PM
I think this is one subject that we will never be able to reach total agreement on.

Ausboy, I was wondering if you would be able to post Watson's results for the rest of the year after the AO in 2002. I know I have been saying that she did nothing for the rest of the year, but I am saying that off the top of my head, would be intersted to see what she actually did.

Re the qualifying WC's, I actually feel they are all throw-aways so don't really care that much who gets them. I can't recall when any of the Aussie girls have come thru qualifying to actually make the main draw.

The other thing that does annoy me is I feel every wildcard for the Aussie tournaments should be kept for Aussie players. I don't mind the system they have set up for the AO, where they swap, but for all the other tournaments our girls should get everyone, because they don't get them any other place.

AUSBOY
May 20th, 2003, 07:32 PM
Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by TS
It's quite alarming to see the 'vets' dropping like sacks of potatoes in the ranks this year...it does lend weight to your argument, but on the other hand they (the players) aren't entirely blameless for their drop in the rankings. They are old enough and experienced enough to handle these obstacles, and we can't just blame the fact that they didn't get WC's as being the reason for their downfall.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Of course the wildcards only play a small part in the rankings scenario but for Mireille its meant the difference between her ranking being 260 and 230! And I think the difference for a player if they can get their rank inside 205 is enormous as it means they get to play the qualifying at the Slams.

And likewise for Watson, if she had won 1 round in the main draw her rank would be probably 215 which would have made her even closer to the mark.

Anyhow enough dwelling on whats happened. Both Watson and Mireille are in a 'ranking crisis' now. Watson rank after Wimbledon will be in the 380's and Mireille's in the 320's if they fail to defend their points which is a sorry, sad scenario!


Answers for Vicky88

The last Aust player to qualify at the Aust Open was Kerry-Anne Guse in 1999. Other players to reach the final round of qualifying in recent times are Lisa McShea, Amanda Grahame, and Christina Wheeler. I may have missed a player or two, but they are just ones I remember


Cindy Watson results after the Australian Open

14-22 for the rest of the year.

10 of those loses were against top 150 players

She only lost once to a player ranked lower than 300!


Bendigo ($25,000 - Australia) Mar 3 2002
1 C Watson(1) - R Rosenfield 6-1 6-1
2 C Watson(1) - T O'Connor 6-0 7-5
QF C Watson(1) - B Sekulovski 6-4 7-5
SF C Watson(1) - T Musgrave(7) 6-3 5-7 6-1
F Y Yoshida(8) - C Watson(1) 6-1 7-6(5)

Key Biscayne Mar 31 2002
Qual 1 J Lee(17) - C Watson 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3

Sarasota Apr 7 2002
Qual 1 J Craybas - C Watson 6-3 6-1

Amelia Island Apr 14 2002
Qual 1 J Lee(9) - C Watson 7-6(5) 6-4

Charleston Apr 21 2002
Qual 1 S Taylor(15) - C Watson 6-4 6-4

Hamburg May 5 2002
Qual 1 K Marosi - C Watson 7-6(5) 6-2

Warsaw May 12 2002
Qual 1 C Watson(4) - N Grandin 1-6 7-6(2) 6-1
Qual 2 A Floris - C Watson(4) 6-4 7-64

Szczecin ($50,000 - Poland) May 19 2002
1 L Kurhajcova - C Watson 6-3 6-3

Surbiton ($25,000 - Great Britain) June 9 2002
1 A Stevenson(1) - C Watson 7-5 6-0

Roland Garros June 9 2002
Qual 1 C Watson - R McQuillan(22) 7-6(4) 2-6 7-5
Qual 2 M Lucic - C Watson 6-4 6-2

Birmingham June 16 2002
Qual 1 M Dittmann - C Watson(10) 5-7 7-6(6) 7-6(4)

Vaihingen ($25,000 - Germany) July 7 2002
1 C Watson(3) - A Pandjerova 6-3 6-3
2 S Gehrlein-Q - C Watson(3) 6-0 6-3

Wimbledon July 7 2002
Qual 1 C Watson - S Klaschka 6-4 4-6 6-4
Qual 2 E Callens(8) - C Watson 6-1 6-3

Casablanca July 14 2002
1 C Watson - M Haddad-WC 6-3 6-0
2 G Dulko - C Watson 6-3 6-2

Bronx ($50,000 - NY,USA) Aug 18 2002
1 M Vento-Kabchi - C Watson 6-3 2-6 6-1

US Open Sep 8 2002
Qual 1 C Avants-WC - C Watson(29) 6-3 6-4

Mackay ($25,000 - Australia) Oct 20 2002
1 C Watson(1) - J Hewitt 6-4 6-2
2 N Grandin - C Watson(1) 6-4 3-6 6-1

Rockhampton ($25,000 - Australia) Oct 27 2002
1 C Watson(1) - D Ivanov-WC 6-1 6-4
2 C Scheepers - C Watson(1) 6-2 6-2

Dalby ($25,000 - Australia) Nov 3 2002
1 C Watson(2) - N Tanevska-WC 6-3 6-1
2 C Watson(2) - C Scheepers 6-0 2-6 7-64
QF R McQuillan - C Watson(2) 6-4 6-4

Port Pirie ($25,000 - Australia) Nov 17 2002
1 C Watson(2) - M Dittmann 6-0 6-4
2 N Grandin-Q - C Watson(2) 6-3 1-6 6-0

Nuriootpa ($25,000 - Australia) Nov 24 2002
1 J Pullin - C Watson(5) 6-3 7-5

Mount Gambier ($25,000 - Australia) Dec 1 2002
1 O Kalyuzhnaya - C Watson(3) 6-1 6-2


2003 before Aust Open

Gold Coast Jan 5 2003
Qual 1 C Scheepers - C Watson 6-1 6-3

Hobart Jan 12 2003
1 C Black(7) - C Watson-WC 6-3 7-6(4)

Vicky88
May 20th, 2003, 10:19 PM
Thanks for Cindy's results Ausboy. A 14-22 record is not that bad, all things considered, it was certainly better than I had thought. I would say most of the losses in the higher ranked tournaments were not unreasonable, however she should have been doing better in those lower ranked tourneys. Actually I was wondering if her scheduling could have perhaps been a bit better. ie. Forget playing at Hamburg etc. why not throw in some Tier IV or V's. Also wonder if she had of been given the WC into Wimbeldon whether she could have perhaps won a round and that would have propelled her closer to Top 100 and may have given her more confidence. However, I guess the only way to get a true picture of what went on would be to compare what those who missed out on the wildcards did for the previous year compared to what those who did get the wildcards did do.

AUSBOY
May 21st, 2003, 12:15 AM
The wildcard exchange with Wimbledon only started this year.

I think Cindy's downfall last year was her scheduling. She had gone from 383 to 141 in 9 months and maybe jumped ahead of herself.

Instead of trying to consolidate her ranking she was a little over ambitious is playing a lot of Tier 1 and II qualifying events when really she should have been playing $25K-$75K events with some Tier IV and V's.

She was part of the Optus squad, who in my opinion wrongly convinced her that this scheduling was best for her, maybe it was part of the agreement, I dont know.

Either way its gonna be a long haul back up the rankings if she decides she wants to continue playing.

Vicky88
May 21st, 2003, 01:11 AM
BTW who helps these girls decide what tournaments they play because I think whoever does deserves a good flogging. I think basically so many of the Aussie girls suffer thru poor scheduling. Why don't more of them play the Tier IV and V's and get a few points rather than going to the bigger tournies and getting put out in the first round of qualifying? I was most surprised that all of them didn't turn up the Thailand tournament at the end of the year. They need to take advantage of when the rest of the world is winding down and deciding it is too far for them to come and make the most of these opportunities.

TS
May 21st, 2003, 05:01 AM
lol Vicky, I know. I think with most of them they were just too tired at the end of the season :rolleyes: (actually most were in SA playing challengers to be fair, but some missed some earlier Asian events which was a missed opportunity considering how weak the draws were!)

Anyway, re the poor Tier selection...case in point is Evie. I think she needs to realise she is completely out of her depth (at the moment) in Tier I and II events and needs to play qualies in lower tier tournaments. Even still she'd have a hard time qualifying the way she is playing...

For ages I've been saying how stupid most of the girls' scheduling is...take a look at Sam and Rachel. What have they done to prepare for RG??? Rachel played one tournament on red clay ($25K Bromma last week) and lost 1st round to a tough player. Sam on the other hand didn't play anything at ALL :rolleyes: How do they expect to win a match in RG qualies? Or maybe they just dont care about it enough :confused: