Join Date: Jul 2012
Some articles about the 1992 VS of Florida, perhaps one of the best examples of the old "the rich and spoiled performing for the rich and self-indulgent" country club tournaments.
QUALIFIERS DRAW TOUGH ODDS, FEWER CHECKS ON WOMEN'S TOUR
The Palm Beach Post - Thursday, February 27, 1992
Author: PATRICK McMANAMON
Louise Allen's professional tennis existence depends on how many qualifying matches she wins.
Yet she presses on.
"I just enjoy playing," Allen said as she prepared for Saturday's qualifying round of the Virginia Slims of Florida at the Polo Club Boca Raton.
Peanut Harper's ranking is No. 88, and though she doesn't often have to play qualifying rounds, she's won just one of the four matches she's played this year.
"It does get frustrating sometimes," Harper said.
Harper and Allen represent the other side of the WTA Tour, the players who don't make headlines, yet plug away week after week to make a tournament and then advance.
"Every year it's like a roller coaster," said Harper (formerly Peanut Louie).
Harper, 32, started on the Tour in 1978. Her highest ranking came in 1985, when she reached No. 19, but the past three years the highest she's been ranked is 71st. Her last singles title was in 1985, and she's never advanced beyond the third round of a Grand Slam.
Allen, 30, turned pro in 1984. She has won two USTA tournaments the last two years, but never a Virginia Slims event. Her highest ranking was 84. (She's now No. 133.) Sports fans know the 133rd best football or baseball player. They don't know Louise Allen.
"It's very frustrating," Allen said. "I really kind of blame our association for that because they only promote the top three or four people. It's unfortunate the public perceives that also. . . . It's like if you're not in the top five by the time you're 15 you can't play. You have to admire a (Jennifer) Capriati for how good she is so young, but that's not the criteria for everyone. A lot of us can make a decent living and travel and have a great life."
In an era when top players make millions just from endorsements, Allen earned $25,200 playing tennis in 1991.
"I'm not scraping, though," Allen said. "I live very comfortably."
Harper had more success, earning $79,601 ($608,629 for her career).
"I've never been in the red," Harper said. ' ' Some players, I wonder how they stay out here."
"If it was week to week, there's no way I could do this," Allen said. "That's too much pressure. I have to put food on the table."
For players like Allen and Harper, the Kraft Tour represents a pursuit for points, which they earn at each tournament depending on how far they advance and whom they defeat. The point total then is averaged for a calendar year to determine a ranking.
Maintaining a ranking means defending points. To a top player, maintaining is important. But to a player ranked closer to 100, regaining lost points is vital.
`You try not to worry about it," Harper said. "The points are coming off whether you worry or not."
But Harper admitted she does worry.
"(Losing points) could drop you right out of main draws," she said.
And into qualifying, which means just to reach a main draw a woman has to win three qualifying matches.
"If I had to qualify on a regular basis, I'd probably be finished," Harper said. "I've done it too long to go through that grind again."
Allen often does go through it. On Feb. 15 and 16, she won three matches just to reach the first round of the Virginia Slims of Oklahoma. She was eliminated in her second match.
"It is tough," Allen said. "But if you can make it through I look at it as an advantage. You've played three tough matches. The more I play the better."
Allen tries to look on the qualifying as a positive, even if it means playing a Gabriela Sabatini or Monica Seles in the first round of the main draw.
"That's just the chances you take," Allen said. "I look at it that they have all the pressure. I've played a couple of matches and I'm used to the surroundings. If you're going to beat one of those players, getting them early is the best time."
"I still want to see how I can do out here," Harper said. "I still can improve on a lot of things."
"I enjoy it because I'm still getting better," Allen said. "If I felt I was at a stalemate, I can't imagine continuing to play."