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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Australian Junior Acceptances; Decrease in Number of Challengers in 2013 Raises Concern

The acceptances for the Australian Open Junior Championships, which run from January 19-26, have been posted, with three US boys and four US girls currently listed in the main draw.

Thai Kwiatkowski, Mackenzie McDonald and Martin Redlicki are the boys entered; the girls are Sachia Vickery, who did not play the Orange Bowl due to a back injury, Christina Makarova, Allie Kiick and Jamie Loeb.

The Americans in qualifying as of now are Luca Corinteli, Michael Mmoh, Jared Donaldson, Katrine Steffensen and Caroline Doyle.

Interesting to note that Nicolas Jarry, who played under the USA flag in 2012, including at the just completed Orange Bowl, is now listed as representing Chile.

The most surprising entry in the girls draw is Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who is now 106 in the WTA rankings. It's most unusual for someone with a ranking that high to play the juniors. She may yet withdraw of course, but the most obvious reason for a junior girl to play a slam so late in her career, the WTA age restrictions, doesn't apply, since she turns 18 on January 7.  She has reached two junior slam finals--the US Open in 2010 and the Australian Open in 2012--but has yet to win one.

Jeff Sackmann of the Heavy Topspin blog investigated the number of challengers in the first quarter of 2013, and the decline he documented makes for some alarming reading.

For me, one of the most persistently puzzling facets of the sport of tennis has been its lack of adjustment for inflation in the prize money offered at lower level events.

As Magnus Norman mentioned in the question and answer session I did with him earlier this month, many of the Futures tournaments that offered $10,000 in prize money in 1990 still offer that same amount 22 years later, when just keeping up with inflation alone would require prize money to be over $17,000 now.

Those who are able to graduate from the Futures circuit quickly could rely on the more generous prize money offered at the Challengers, but if those are opportunities are disappearing, the possibility of earning a viable living from playing the game might be going with them.

The player No. 150 on the PGA's 2012 money list is Nick O'Hern, who made $489,375. The player No. 150 on the ATP's 2012 money list is Joao Souza, who made $176,662. This may be the golden age of men's tennis, but those numbers suggest it may only be so at the very top.


LoveTheGame said...

Collette to add to your PGA Tour money list comparison, that does not include the European Tour money list or any other tours. The 150 highest earning golfer in the world makes much more than the 150th earner on the PGA list, with much less travel. Tennis could learn a thing from Golf and have a European tour, US Tour, Asian Tour, etc and have the best players come together for only the largest events.

Scott said...

I take it you are American then 'Love TheGame' - the rest of the golf world despises the fact that the US hogs all the best events and players. Imagine how crap an Asian Tour would be - the biggest market the sport is trying to crack at the moment. Tennis is a global sport, let's keep it that way... just fix the funding at the bottom level! All this fuss about R1 losers' cheques at Slams is rubbish, it should be about ensuring that money for futures and challengers increases year on year. Using a golf example, the PGA Tour just increased prizemoney on the subsidiary webdotcom tour by 50k per event. The game is stronger at the top if it's stronger at the bottom!

JuniorFan said...

I wonder why Gabby Andrews didn't enter the junior Australian open? Does anybody know?