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Injuries on the WTA Tour

Posted Oct 14th, 2006 at 06:16 AM by Lefty.
The season is winding down, which means it is time for the YEC, which is when the top 8 finishers in the Race to the Championships compete with each other for one week. When all are healthy and playing their best, it is a very exciting event which is very competitive. However, after a harsh 9-10 months of playing week in-week out, many players are injured and it is uncertain whether they will be healthy enough for the Championships. This year alone, there have been 31 withdrawals from Tier I events by players ranked in the top 10. That is an increase of 72 percent from last year. This is terrible for the game, and terrible for the fans there. I was at the Acura Classic, a Tier I event, this summer, and I was relishing the idea of 9 of the top 10 players there competing. However, when the tournament started, only 4 top 10 players were left. It was disappointing, but what else could fans do? It was even worse in Montreal the following week, when a record field was due to appear, but only one top 10 player showed up(Clijsters). And she fell on her wrist and was injured in the first round. What was even more embarassing was that Davenport, who was a three time GS champion and was obviously a big name, was denied a WC because she hadn't signed up for the required number of tournaments set by the WTA. This is a very serious issue and larger fines for withdrawing isn't going to cut it. Even the players who are playing relatively fewer tournaments, such as Justine Henin-Hardenne and Maria Sharapova, who have played 12 and 11 tournaments this year, respectively, are getting injured. Breaks need to be instituted after a "season" such as the right after the USO, which ends the summer hardcourt season, or the spring clay season, which leads right into Wimbledon. With these breaks, players can take a rest and be prepared for the next "surface season". The WTA Tour is taking action, but it took them far too long to notice the warning signs. Even last year and starting from the end of the 2004 season, players were falling due to injuries, and the WTA did nothing to help the problem. The WTA needs it's top players in form for the tour to be exciting, and if the tour is exciting, it will be promoted and women's tennis will be a more popular sport worldwide. Now that changes have been planned for 2010, there should be a sigh of relief for many players, however, 2007 is the coming season, and there needs to be a short term remedy for this issue. Otherwise, history will repeat itself and 2007 will be a mirror image of 2006 injuries wise.
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