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View Full Version : Backlash over teen wildcards - Wildcard policy under fire, Amanda Grahame Rips TA!!


AUSBOY
Jan 11th, 2004, 05:01 AM
Wildcard policy under fire, reports Tim Colebatch.

Four years ago, Amanda Grahame had all of Australia cheering for her as she pushed Serena Williams to the brink of defeat at the Australian Open. This year she could not even get a wildcard into the qualifying rounds at her home-town event.

Under Tennis Australia's policy of giving virtually all wildcards into qualifying rounds to young players, Grahame at 24 was denied one into even the qualifying rounds of the Canberra women's classic.

Two years ago she was a semi-finalist at the event, the only Australian to get so far. But that meant nothing as Tennis Australia gave its wildcards to three juniors and a 19-year-old. All four were thrashed in the opening round, winning just 17 games between them.

Grahame scraped into the draw on Thursday when some players failed to arrive. But after losing in three sets to Italian Antonella Serra Zanetti, she criticised Tennis Australia's policy of discriminating against players in the prime of tennis life. "I was disappointed and really shocked", Grahame said.

"To think it's my local tournament, and they wouldn't even give me a wildcard into the qualifying.

"Australian players often peak between 25 and 30, like Nicole Pratt. But their attitude is that when you're over 22, they don't bother about you anymore."

On the results, Tennis Australia's policy has failed. Last year it gave out 23 wildcards into the qualifying rounds of its five women's events, all but one to youngsters with an average age of 18.

Of those 22, not one qualified, and 19 lost in the first round of the qualifiers, 17 of them dumped in straight sets. This year the policy is faring no better. So far young players have been given 15 of the 16 wildcards into qualifying events.

But 14 lost in the opening round, 12 of them in straight sets.

Meanwhile, higher-ranked Australians in their mid and late-20s have been confined to the practice courts, watching teenagers squander chances denied to them.

Tournament director Janet Young denied Tennis Australia was discriminating against older players, saying wildcards into qualifying were seen as a springboard for players to develop.

"I can understand Amanda's disappointment, but I can also understand that the selectors had to balance a number of factors", she said. Grahame spent last year on the sidelines with a foot injury, and had no recent form to recommend her. But her protected (pre-injury) ranking of 217 in the world still makes her Australia's sixth-highest ranked player.

The series starts today, with rising Russian Nadia Petrova, Argentinian Paola Suarez and Italian Silvia Farina Elia as the top three seeds. Sydney players Evie Dominikovic (23) and Monique Adamczak (20) have wildcards into the draw.

TS
Jan 11th, 2004, 05:23 AM
It's tough...Amanda deserved at least a qualifying WC, I was also rather shocked when I saw she hadn't received one. Thankfully for her she scraped through, and gave a good account of herself...but on the other hand, she had no form going in, no events played, and no indication of how she would fare. But still, considering how well she did 2 years ago, to not give her one in her hometown is stupid.

Giving these handouts to the young kids is, as Janet Young said, a springboard to their future careers, but is it really helping them?? We saw what it's done to Adriana Szili this past year :rolleyes: The girls that were given AO WC's last year, including Baker, Cheung and Welford haven't done anything at all since...it's been a springboard to disappointment if nothing else. Also Lukaszewicz and Daniela, although it's hard to tell with these two because a)one is still so young and b)one hardly plays!

Dubravka Cupac is the only one that has won a match so far this summer in qualifying. The ones in Hobart did OK (weaker opposition), but still, for the second year in a row the girls have had their clocks cleaned.

As much as I like Daniela Dominikovic, and honestly believe she can be a good player, I dont understand how a kid like her, (that hardly plays any events!!!) can get WC's over players like Amanda, Cindy, Trudi et al. Girls that need the money to earn their living!

It's going to be really interesting to see how the AO qualy WC's are distributed this year, after last years farce.

It's really good to see someone like Trudi Musgrave, age 26, finally coming good and showing them that the older girls can still deliver.

AUSBOY
Jan 11th, 2004, 05:32 AM
That stats over the last 2 years say it all. Two years ago we had 12 aussies in the top 250, now we have 5. There wildcard policy sucks the last two years! Tennis Australia's failure to support over 20yo players has killed the depth we were starting to build in the game around 2001.

I can't for the life of me understand how Trudi Musgrave didnt get a wildcard to Gold Coast, or anywhere in fact. She is playing main draw at Aust Open yet they dont care if she doesnt have any match practice beforehand! I mean of course its more logical to give an injury stricken Tiffany Welford who has hardly won a match all year a wildcard to qualifying than Trudi Musgrave!

TS
Jan 11th, 2004, 05:44 AM
So true...but of course Welford was always going to get one as she lives, like, down the road...lol. But if you have a player, like Trudi, who is playing in your national Slam event...uh, wouldn't it make sense to give her as much match practice as possible? Totally agree.

The forgotten girls that are 20-22, like Van Elden, Sewell, Sekulovksi are going to find the going really tough when they resume singles play...money earned from these qualifying events isn't much at all, but it's a start. They are the ones that really need it...being at an age where they are still building their games...and they don't get financial support like the kids do. Soon enough they'll just end up like Belobrajdic and Dowse, and just give it away, which is kind of sad as they all have lots of talent.

I remember how healthy the rankings were looking 2 years ago...definitely some signs of life from 100-500. Now it's just really barren, Sharon :sad:

This policy is not working...I like louloubelle's idea...just make them all do a play off and earn their WC's. That's the fairest way, and also gives them extra matches.

lizette
Jan 11th, 2004, 07:33 AM
I have always enjoyed reading posts from TS and Ausboy as you are both very knowledgeable and usually spot on with your observations. I know Kristen Van Elden well and whilst she has not had a good year she loves playing tennis and is still a good player. When she was ranked in the 200's TA still chose to give her very little. She was also No.l alternate this year for the Aussie Camp based on ranking which is what they said they were going on, but when someone pulled out they created 2 more wildcards for the youngsters. So they just make it up as they go along and are completely ad hoc with everything.

AUSBOY
Jan 11th, 2004, 08:57 AM
Glad you enjoy our posts lizette. I would be interested to hear in any other information you can share with us.

We all know Tennis Australia have double standards and bend the rules if it helps out their 'favourites'. Certainly though something has to be done about the allocation of wildcards because they are just getting it so wrong. I still think all wildcards should be initially reserved for players with top 600 senior ranks or juniors with a top 50 ITF junior rank. There should be enough competition in juniors without having to throw them into senior events unless of course they have attained the ranking mentioned above.

This year 13 out of the 16 qualifying wildcards were given to players ranked outside the top 500 or with no rank at all and none of these players had a top 50 ITF Junior rank. Now that really is a total farce!

Of the 17 Australians ranked in the top 500 (including Grahame injury rank) a total of 6 have not received a wildcard yet even though 24 have already been handed out. Every year there seems to be players in the top 300 miss out on wildcards, how can that happen when you are ranked 6-10 in Australia and there are minimum of 38 singles wildcards to be handed out.

anthonyqld
Jan 12th, 2004, 11:02 PM
Of the players ranked out of the top 500, Sophie Ferguson is the only one who really deserves a wildcard.

Gaby Baker, also out of the top 500, and did not receive a wild card. Probably deserved one too. - She might be injured, not sure.

broncosven
Feb 8th, 2004, 10:18 PM
has Amanda retired

i couldnt find her rank on wta tour and thought that was weird

anyone have any info??

AUSBOY
Feb 10th, 2004, 12:33 AM
No Amanda has dropped out of the ranks as she has only played 2 tournaments in the last 12 months (Canberra & Aust Open 2004).

She has 3 ranking points but until she plays a 3rd tournament she won't re-appear in the ranks!

azza
Feb 10th, 2004, 07:12 AM
Mandy :)

broncosven
Feb 10th, 2004, 07:28 AM
Thanks for that ausboy

she is a good player and thought after comin back from injury such a shame for her to give up now