I thought I'd think out loud about some issues in tennis before Monday when issues, for the most part, will be pushed into the background.
I'll start with the US Open Series. The winner on the WTA side has been announced and it seems her win has finally pushed tennis fans over the edge. Here's an excerpt from the announcement on the WTA official site:
NEW YORK, NY, USA - WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova has clinched the Emirates Airline US Open Series title, meaning she'll be going for a record $4.3-million payout at the upcoming US Open.
Pliskova finished atop the Bonus Challenge standings with 150 points, benefitting from the provision that allows players who earn points in three or more Emirates Airline US Open Series events to double their point totals. With a final at the Bank Of The West Classic in Stanford, a round of 16 showing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and a quarterfinal in New Haven, she got that double.
If Pliskova wins the US Open, she will add a $1 million bonus to the $3.3 million she'll get for the title - that potential $4.3-million payout would be the biggest payout in tennis history, male or female.
Rounding out the Top 3 are Serena Williams, who won the title in Cincinnati, and Simona Halep, who made back-to-back finals in Toronto (falling to Belinda Bencic) and Cincinnati (falling to Williams).
Williams and Halep could earn bonuses of up to $500,000 and $250,000, respectively.
There is something wrong when a player has made two finals, another player won a title, and your "winner" has won, nothing. All she did was show up for three tournaments. And truth be told she tanked her semifinal in New Haven with a display that left the comms struggling to find words to describe what she was, or wasn't doing during that match.
With #TennisTwitter still shaking it's collective head over the rule change that made this travesty possible maybe the WTA will rethink the change.
I know, I know. I shouldn't hold my breath. It was "rising star" Karolina Pliskova this year. Who knows maybe one of the "rising stars" from the US will win sometime soon...oh wait she won't have to win. Just do moderately well at three events and voila you get a huge payday. The WTA, the organization that took away quality points for whatever reason and ended up with Slamless Number One ranked players who did nothing but chase points and in one case ruin her health in the process. This is the same organization that wants to turn womens tennis into "sports entertainment" and is doing so with the spectacle of the poor wittle ladies coaches coming out to hold their hands and talk them through a match. The coaches don't even have to think anymore since the WTA has provided them with technology that tells them what they should be telling their charges based on their observations of the match being played. The ITF, the folks who run the Grand Slams, don't allow that nonsense there and that is why very few of the players do well in Slams. I did see some of the players trying to get used to not calling down their coaches during the US Open series and that is a good thing. Maybe they'll realize that they can think their way through a match and don't need a security blanket or pacifier to get through.
I decided to see how the advent of the WTA $125k events along with the ITF events in Asia were affecting Chinese women with their rankings. After all the big knock on the events was that they would artificially inflate the players rankings.
I'll start wiht Zheng Saisai. She is currently ranked #70 according to the WTA site. Her results are listed HERE
She is in the Main Draw at the US Open.
Wang Qiang is also in the Main Draw of the US Open. According to Wiki her rank is #82. The WTA site says she is ranked 112. Her results are HERE
Duan Ying-Ying is ranked #103 according to the WTA site. Her results are listed HERE . She was in the Qualifying Tournament in New York City.
What do they all have in common? Wins on the ITF circuit, mostly in Asia, and early exits in main tour tournaments outside of Asia. I think they can look at the South Korean player Chung Hyeon and what he's doing with his career for a blueprint of how they could really do better and play better tennis. He's exposing himself to wins and losses on the ATP main tour and improving his game as he goes. Just because you're a big fish in a small pond doesn't mean you can be a big fish in the ocean. These women are being asked to move from the small pond to the ocean without very much play against the bigger, stronger fish you find in the ocean.
Of course the system in Korea is not the same as it is in China so comparing the two may not be exactly like comparing apples to apples. But unless these women are allowed to play in Europe and the US on a regular basis they will remain the small fish being gobbled up by the big ones.
US Open Qualifying Draw
Today is the last day of the tournament. The only US man to make it through to the final round is Tommy Paul.
On the women's side Jessica Pegula, Melanie Oudin, Claire Liu, Catherine Bellis and Shelby Rogers made it to the last round. Rogers will be in the main draw while Bellis lost. These are the results as I type this. Still it's a great showing for US women.
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