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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #1
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Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Just

From her blog:

Watched a lot of the tennis at the $25 000, spoke to a lot of different people in the field of tennis, have a lot of worries regarding the state of the game and where it seems to be heading. Wondered what everyone else thinks?

How i see it.
The standard at this tournament is amazingly high, playing like a WTA Tour event in all honesty. For someone like me, who doesn't really like to watch tennis but is aware of the standards, I really enjoyed watching the qualifying event because the players were so good! Glad I am not starting out on the Tour now, as i fear I would have no chance.

There are no spectators here and yet the players competing are putting on quite an enjoyable show. These matches would not be out of place at Wimbledon, where you would find a lot of people, cheering and clapping the incredible points! Does the everyday spectator really see the difference between a 50th ranked player or a 170th ranked player? i very much doubt it, after seeing the standard this week.

Why am i worried? Because no one is watching, which isnt anything new but also because these players, who are all incredibly talented might never break through on to the WTA Tour. Why? Because they might quite easily run out of money before they can even get there. To see such a high standard, knowing that none of these girls will really cover expenses, is amazingly worrying. The tournaments are getting stronger because no one is willing to host one, costs far too much money to hold an event and whats the point when no one comes to watch? So with fewer tournaments, you end up having cut offs like the one we had this week in Innisbrook and the even higher cut off next week in Osprey!

The money is all at the very top end, which is ok to a small extent because these players are who the public pay to see BUT why do they pay to see them? because the average spectator can discern between 50 in the world and 150 or because they know these players? I would hazard a guess that its more the marketing side of things, which leads me to my next question in an era of social media, shouldnt we be able to market far more players? Make our sport reach further out, so those who cant attend grand slams can choose to watch at their local tournament. I follow www.gbtennisgirls.com all the time and the fans on there love to follow every British girl, regardless of their ranking. Why? Because they are accessible, they know them and they have taken an interest.

If we don't market the events outside of the WTA Tour and IF the money doesnt trickle down to these lower events, tennis is really going to struggle as a world wide sport. The amount of tournaments are already decreasing due to the economic environment and if players cant break through due to the lack of money on the ITF tour, the money will soon dry up at the higher end of the game. The top guys have it right, Andy Murray, Nadal when they say money needs to be pushed further down in order for our sport to survive and the same needs to be done on the WTA Tour or it will not survive. We will continue to lose sponsors not only at the ITF level but now as we are seeing at the WTA Tour level, which then reverberates down to federations, clubs and soon no one can even afford to start playing.

The level of the game is so much higher than when I started but the health of the game is worryingly fragile at the moment. In order for it to flourish, we either need to increase the money on the ITF Tour by finding more sponsors, which isnt going to happen or we need to push the money won by the very elite through the ranks. If not these high profile players will soon see their bank accounts dwindling because the sport simply cant survive.

Thoughts?
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 05:56 PM   #2
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Thoughts?

Just that Sarah Borwell deserves a medal for writing this brilliant honest and heartfelt piece. I think that has to be the wisest assessment of the problems facing modern tennis I have ever read and I don't think there is much that can be added to what she already has said.

I just hope the people that matter in the ITF and who runs the Slams et cetera read this and take it on board.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:01 PM   #3
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Although I agree with her on some points, I still find it tough to agree with anything she says given she was on pretty decent money from the LTA whilst ushering younger players away from it and into college tennis.

Tennis is a tough sport and if you think of ITF tournaments at 25k as 5 or 6 tier level tournaments (slams, man/prem 5, prem, international and now 125) and then compare it to the same level of say football which is conference league, most of those footballers at that level have actual jobs too to make money.

There isn't much money in 25k's to be made by hosting them, but you have to also ask what the tournament holding it is doing wrong too if no one is there. Have they reached out into local schools to get the kids there for a day, like barnstaple, notts ect do. Are they working with local councils ect to promote the event?
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

i wrote an article about the very same problem at the beginning of the year, glad this subjects continues getting recognition

there is completely no marketing on these events/players
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Quote:
Originally Posted by sammy01 View Post
Although I agree with her on some points, I still find it tough to agree with anything she says given she was on pretty decent money from the LTA whilst ushering younger players away from it and into college tennis.

Tennis is a tough sport and if you think of ITF tournaments at 25k as 5 or 6 tier level tournaments (slams, man/prem 5, prem, international and now 125) and then compare it to the same level of say football which is conference league, most of those footballers at that level have actual jobs too to make money.

There isn't much money in 25k's to be made by hosting them, but you have to also ask what the tournament holding it is doing wrong too if no one is there. Have they reached out into local schools to get the kids there for a day, like barnstaple, notts ect do. Are they working with local councils ect to promote the event?
Which is simply not possible while traveling the globe. On top of that because of the necessity to travel the costs for a tier 5 or 6 player as you put it are far greater in tennis than in football. Which is more the reason these players need more money.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:09 PM   #6
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

I don't think you can take Innisbruck and Osprey as standards of today's challengers. Yes, the level there might me freakeashly high, but it's quite a particular set of weeks when there are many players in the US and there happens not to be any other $25K or higher tournaments around the globe.

Still, you get ITF tournaments in places like Muzzafarnagar where the winner would probably fail to even qualify for these events in the US.

While I do agree on how hard it is for players outside the top 100 to make ends meet, tennis is a cruel sport as it is. There can only be one winner each week. There will always be 16 players who lose in the first round and go home empty-handed.

You can bitch all you want, but in the end tennis will always be an individual, mean and competitive sport where only a handful will ever accomplish the feat of playing Grand Slams and get to have people watching them.

Who can you blame exactly for the lack of public? Tennis is played on weekdays, when most people go to work. Stadiums are usually full only on night matches and weekends.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:17 PM   #7
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Quote:
Originally Posted by sammy01 View Post
Although I agree with her on some points, I still find it tough to agree with anything she says given she was on pretty decent money from the LTA whilst ushering younger players away from it and into college tennis.

Tennis is a tough sport and if you think of ITF tournaments at 25k as 5 or 6 tier level tournaments (slams, man/prem 5, prem, international and now 125) and then compare it to the same level of say football which is conference league, most of those footballers at that level have actual jobs too to make money.

There isn't much money in 25k's to be made by hosting them, but you have to also ask what the tournament holding it is doing wrong too if no one is there. Have they reached out into local schools to get the kids there for a day, like barnstaple, notts ect do. Are they working with local councils ect to promote the event?
those footballers dont have to pay to travel- the team does that
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:24 PM   #8
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

she's right about the money problem but tbh when she's saying there's not difference between a girl ranked in the 50th and a girl ranked in the 200th she's just wrong. The difference is there and I'm sure many people can see it. One thing is if two 200th players play eachothers they are quite even therefore they might have some decent exchange but not the same quality has two top 50 would have. That kinda made her point less strong.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:26 PM   #9
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tripp View Post

Who can you blame exactly for the lack of public? Tennis is played on weekdays, when most people go to work. Stadiums are usually full only on night matches and weekends.
You're right that it's unrealistic to expect the public to take a day off work to watch Irina Falconi play, but there are other ways around it. These challenger tournaments should be having schools come out for every single day of the main draw. No excuses. Most of these challengers don't even charge for tickets, so it's in their best interest to get people out there by any means necessary.

If nothing else, they need to increase the prize money at these tournaments somewhat. It's been decades since that has happened. Winning a $25K now doesn't offer nearly the same financial help that it did in the '90s. Unless the tournament offers free housing, you pretty much have the reach the semifinals of the singles just to have any chance of breaking even.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 06:33 PM   #10
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

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Originally Posted by Shvedbarilescu View Post
Which is simply not possible while traveling the globe. On top of that because of the necessity to travel the costs for a tier 5 or 6 player as you put it are far greater in tennis than in football. Which is more the reason these players need more money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoiledEgg View Post
those footballers dont have to pay to travel- the team does that
We know this, but what do you suggest Innisbruck do, make it a 50k and still have no one watching, so in a sense throw another 25k away?
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 08:18 PM   #11
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 09:18 PM   #12
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Quote:
Originally Posted by sammy01 View Post
We know this, but what do you suggest Innisbruck do, make it a 50k and still have no one watching, so in a sense throw another 25k away?
USTA should be doing it anyway with that profit from the US Open they make.
If its free to watch then it doesnt matter how many people are there.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 09:44 PM   #13
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBoiledEgg View Post
USTA should be doing it anyway with that profit from the US Open they make.
If its free to watch then it doesnt matter how many people are there.
Exactly. The USTA make plenty of money and they can afford to fund additional ITFs as well as upgrading the prize money of existing ITFs. That they chose not to threatens in time to severely damage the quality at the top tier as many players will not be able to afford to make it through the early days of the tour who would have otherwise been very successful players.
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 09:45 PM   #14
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

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Originally Posted by Vincey! View Post
she's right about the money problem but tbh when she's saying there's not difference between a girl ranked in the 50th and a girl ranked in the 200th she's just wrong. The difference is there and I'm sure many people can see it. One thing is if two 200th players play eachothers they are quite even therefore they might have some decent exchange but not the same quality has two top 50 would have. That kinda made her point less strong.
I think what she means is that players ranked around 170 or so can easily challenge Top 50 players which Puig, Keys, Bouchard or Putintseva etc. have been good examples of in recent months. It just now takes much longer to crack Top 100 even for the most talented players as the competition in ITFs is much tougher than before and even the best lower ranked players have surprising losses every now and then. And as money is an important issue, only players who can afford to travel to remote places (like Vekic) or can get WCs into big events (like Keys) are able to reach Top 100 sooner than players that are just as talented but without enough money or WCs (like Puig).
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 09:49 PM   #15
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Re: Sarah Borwell tells it loud and clear

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I think what she means is that players ranked around 170 or so can easily challenge Top 50 players which Puig, Keys, Bouchard or Putintseva etc. have been good examples of in recent months. It just now takes much longer to crack Top 100 even for the most talented players as the competition in ITFs is much tougher than before and even the best lower ranked players have surprising losses every now and then. And as money is an important issue, only players who can afford to travel to remote places (like Vekic) or can get WCs into big events (like Keys) are able to reach Top 100 sooner than players that are just as talented but without enough money or WCs (like Puig).
Yup.

Simply getting into the top 100 is becoming harder and harder which is why we just don't see young kids breezing through the ITF circuit onto the main tour with anything like the regularity we did 10+ years ago.
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