Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

As L'il Kim once intoned "It's all about the benjamins."

It used to be taboo for anyone associated with the WTA to discuss appearance fees. Now that that is no longer the case the news out of Malayasia is quite interesting.

Ajitpal Singh reports the following:

AUSTRALIAN Open finalist Justine Henin has decided not to participate in the US$250,000 (RM774,000) Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Malaysian International Open on Feb 22-28.

Justine’s decision comes after the organisers, Carbon Media failed to raise the money for the appearance fee for the Belgian former World No 1.

Maria Kirilenko, the Russian who had earlier confirmed her participation, is now in two minds.

According to a source, the World No 37 is asking for more money to play here and Carbon Media will need to raise the sum if they hope to get her. It is believed the organisers will need to raise between US$100,000 (RM340,000) and US$200,000 for each player.

Carbon Media is not expected to approach any other big names for the tournament.

How do you like them apples? I hope you don't think that WTA tournament officials just started paying appearance fees. If you do I have some prime real estate in Florida you may be interested in.

The other story of interest concerns Jamaican player Dustin Brown. Brown has dual citizenship in both Jamaica and Germany. I first became aware of him when he played a tournament as a German. According to the Jamaica Gleaner
there is a war going on between Brown and Tennis Jamaica. Brown has had a great run and gone from not being a blip on anyone's radar to #144 in the world at the time this article was published.
"Tennis Jamaica only knows me when the Davis Cup comes around, all the other times during the years they don't care how I manage to train and play tournaments. I could have attained a higher ATP ranking much earlier with proper support," Brown told the Gleaner.

Brown's current ranking is a phenomenal achievement as it is no secret that the country has struggled to produce top-class players in the sport of tennis, the last being Richard Russell, who made it to the second round of the Australian Open in 1964.

According to the player, the only way he was able to maintain and eventually improve his ranking was due to the fact that his parents purchased a camper, which enabled the player to travel to various tournaments around Europe.

"To be able to continue my career, my parents bought me a camper in April 2004 in order to travel through Europe and play as many games as possible."

"I would eat and sleep in my camper and I was travelling all over Europe, up and down for seven years to make it in professional tennis, holding the Jamaican flag high week by week, while my parents struggled to pay for the camper.

"I made a name for myself in Europe with my camper, my only chance to make it in tennis. Finally in 2009, I reached 144th in the ATP world ranking as a Jamaican player. I made it."

Brown is now ranked #132 in the world and made the quarterfinals of the South African Tennis Open this year.

Ana Ivanovic reports on her website that she has signed a lifetime contract with Adidas. Keep in mind "lifetime" means length of her career and that the deal probably has incentives related to her ranking built in. I'll just leave that alone.

Idle Chit Chat
For those of you who follow this sort of thing Andy Roddick's wife will be the covergirl for the SI swimsuit issue.

Fernando Verdasco did a photo spread for Calvin Klein recently. I'm not a big fan of Fernando but these pictures sure got my attention.

I'm just sayin'...


Karen said...

I have something that that the organisers of these events who are being asked to pay big money for having top name players appear. How about tying the appearance fee to your performance in the tournament. If I get a big name player who I have to pay a huge amount of money to, the least you should do is make it to the semis, if not all bets are off. That way those players who just take the appearance fees and just turn up for the first round and then out would be made to return the appearance fee. Hows about them apples? I can understand players trying to earn as much money as they can earn, but it sucks when tournament organisers shell out big bucks to these players and then they fall in the first round. I can understand upsets, but if you fall in the first round no money for you. Also, I thought the WTA had mandatory tournaments or at least a fixed number of tournaments that all players had to play. If players wish to go outside those tournies, then is that the time the appearance fee issue comes in. I am confused.

Savannah said...

Karen the question you raise about mandatory tournaments and appearance fees is interesting to say the least. Malayasia is an International level tournament as are Memphis and Acapulco. Both of these tournaments attract top players so what does that say about what they're doing to attract players?

I totally agree that if you accept a six figure appearance fee you are obligated to make it to at least the semi finals. It's not as if you're shaking hands at the mall. Tournament organizers sell lots of tickets based on ads showing the top players. When the WTA was cracking down on the posting of entry lists which accurately reflect who is really playing I talked about official tournament sites featuring pictures of players who had withdrawn.

Now that we can officially discuss appearance fees let's see how this plays out.

Karen said...

Savannah, good points about attracting top players in international level events. What leaves me puzzled though is if I have a tournament which is an international level tournament, say Acupulco and say Venus decides to play this tournie, is she going there because it is part of her schedule, or is she going there because of the appearance fee. What is the line that is being drawn as to whether you are paying me to turn up so that you can sell tickets or I am obligated to play because it was on my schedule. The line here seems to be very blurred. I notice though that even though Dubai is a top level international tourney, it seems like it is being hit with the withdrawal bug as Serena and Dinara have withdrawn and Wozniacki is the top seed. Will be interesting to see how this pans out over this season.

Craig said...

I understand stand "money talks" and alla that.

But what does it say about "tour building" if the top players only play the not-so-popular events when they can secure the Big Cheese?

Savannah said...

I think this is the logical result of the WTA splitting the tour in half abandoning the Tier 1,2,3 and 4 system for the Premier, Premier Mandatory and International system. The International tournaments are made of the other or now lesser tournaments. Players used to be able to pick and choose where they played and top players would play a Tier 2 every now and then if it suited their purpose.

Now they don't have to play International tournaments and the only leverage those TD's have is to pay appearance fees.
I think we're going to see more of this.

Craig said...

It seems the WTA is doing everything it can to kill its own tour.

Karen said...

Hey Savannha, following on from our discussions recently, are you thinking what I am thinking regarding the exceedingly strong field at Charleston and Memphis and the pull outs from Dubai?

Helen W said...

It is stories like the one you posted about young Dustin Brown that I find the most compelling tennis stories. We hear so much about the top 5 players; we hear so little about the sacrifices of young players (and their families) working to grow their games; yet these stories are far more moving and meaningful (at least to me) then listening to someone pontificate about their triumphs.