ITF Announces Prize Money Increases for Futures Tournaments; NCAA Division I Team Tournament Begins Friday; Stewart, Kiick and Chirico Reach $50K Quarterfinals
The International Tennis Federation made a major announcement today, promising an increase in prize money for the lower level pro tournaments under its jurisdiction in the coming years.
Most of the significant changes, including the long-awaited upgrade of men's $10,000 Futures, will not go into effect until 2017, with the implication that the ITF will monitor closely the impact these mandatory prize money increases will have on what it refers to as "job opportunities". If the required increase has federations and other organizations reconsidering their interest in staging tournaments, the ITF could have a complication on its hands. Who will pay for these prize money increases? We all see the Grand Slams as cash machines, but aside from an ITF fund they contribute to, the slams have no responsibility for the financial payouts in any competitive realm but their own.
So despite the good news--and who doesn't want the struggling lower level pros to make more money?--there are many questions that we'll have no clear answers to right away.
But if you have any interest in the topic, please read the ITF Pro Circuit presentation pdf at the bottom of this page. It charts the change in the number of tournaments from 2001 to 2013, and the Europe-ization of tennis is one of the more obvious takeaways. There's also an interesting appendix on costs, although the 353 breakeven ranking for men seems a bit off. But it does provide the caveat that support team costs, most obviously a coach, are not included in the $38,800 the report says is the average cost of playing on the tour each year. And it is important to remember that breaking even is not the same as making a living.
Here is the chart that is contained in the press release regarding what the prize money increases are, and when they take effect:
The NCAA Division I Team Championships begin across the country on Friday, and by Monday, we'll know which 16 men's and 16 women's teams will be in Waco for the start of the Sweet 16 next Thursday.
For links to live scoring and video, see the ITA website. For the men, College Tennis Today has a similar page. I will try to post the final score of all matches via twitter (@zootennis) tomorrow.
At the $50,000 Indian Harbour Beach Pro Circuit tournament, which will decide the USTA's French Open wild card, all three contenders advanced to the quarterfinals. Allie Kiick, the champion last week in Charlottesville, beat Florencia Molinero of Argentina 7-5, 6-1, Katerina Stewart, the finalist in both Dothan and Charlottesvile, beat 16-year-old qualifier Alexa Graham 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, and Louisa Chirico defeated wild card Rianna Valdes 7-6(5), 6-2. Stewart is currently one point ahead of Kiick and Chirico in the Har-Tru Challenge, and if they all lose tomorrow, she gets the wild card. But that's unlikely, and many scenarios more complicated than that are still in play, so check out Jonathan Kelley's post tonight for more.
At the $10,000 Futures in Orange Park, Wil Spencer, Stefan Kozlov, Sekou Bangoura and Tennys Sandgren have all reached the quarterfinals, all in the top half of the draw. Spencer, last week's champion in Vero Beach, plays Kozlov, with Sandgren facing Bangoura, who took out top seed Alex Kuznetsov today.