Why yes, I do know it’s Wednesday. But on Sunday only one of these articles had been published, which would’ve made the Reading List more of a Reading Single Item. So, like the WTF-delayed W.A.T.C.H. list, this article is merely content delayed. (And I had to make it a “Sunday” list to keep the cherished tradition* alive for the readers who love it so.) Besides, Wednesday is Sundae at Carvel.
Moving along from day-related nonsense, our first item is the only one that was available before Sunday. And in fact, it was available in August, though for reasons unbeknownst to me it only started making the rounds last week. It’s a Forbes article detailing the monetary difficulties for the lower-ranked players on tour, through the eyes of Michael Russell.
I’ve long been one decrying the harsh economic realities for those on the Challenger/Futures circuit, and this article brings into sharp relief how tennis can be more of a fiscal challenge than a physical one. This quote from Patrick McEnroe is the heart of it:
And if players are not competing on the ATP tour regularly, the math for staying in the game makes less sense. Patrick McEnroe, General Manager of Player Development at the United States Tennis Association, said the possibility of talented youngsters eschewing tennis for more lucrative sports “is what keeps me up at night. If you have a 7 year old, it’s much easier to sign him up for basketball than tennis. The challenge with tennis, is that once they’re exposed, it takes a lot of time and organization to make players significantly better.”
It’s what keeps me up at night too, PMac. It’s fairly horrifying to know that these players whom I regularly watch, these guys who are so damn talented, might have to give up the game simply because, that particular year, they weren’t making ends meet. With the average age of the Top 100 escalating to around 27-years-old, this is kind of akin to a player having to submit to a years-long unpaid internship, as they struggle with the grind of everything else on tour. Maybe next year is the year they would’ve broke through, but they have to quit this year because they can’t make ends meet.
What a nightmare.
And it’s why players are scurrying to challengers all over the world this week, trying to earn those ATPoints that will get them into the main draw of the Australian Open, where just appearing in the draw earns players $23,000.
The next articles are a bit more upbeat, thankfully. This business insider article continues with the monetary theme but with a brighter fiscal forecast. It’s, I dunno, comforting (?) to know that after some of these players quit because they can’t make money, maybe they’ll make lots of money after they quit. It’s reverse incentivising. Or something.
Maybe it’s just due to my poor memory, but what I’ve found is that when players on the lower circuits retire, there’s no announcement, no fanfare at all. And sometimes it takes weeks or months before I’m looking at a draw and think, “Hey, whatever happened to…” [insert player name]. I’m happy to find some of them folk in the confines of this Business Insider piece.
Foot Soldiers of Tennis has weighed in with its annual look at which players have successfully qualified for the most ATP World Tour events this year, a.k.a. the Kings of Qualifying. So click the link and find out who is the biggest KOQ.
The East Central Illinois News Gazette offers a well-written and -researched look at Rajeev Ram returning to the Champaign Challenger at the place where he was part of the legendary 2003 NCAA-champion 32-0 Illini team of 2003. It also hits on other members of the team, past and present.
Lastly — and speaking of former college stars — this week’s Challenger Tour Finals participant and 2009 ITA Player of the Year, Oleksandr Nedovyesov is the focus of Josh Meiseles’s excellent article for the ATP World Tour website, describing the decision-making parameters inherent in a player’s choice to either turn pro or play for a top U.S. school.
The 26-year-old Ukrainian has been on W.A.T.C.H. Lists aplenty as he’s gobbled up titles and soared to a spot in the Top 100.
That’s all for now. Tune in whenever the next day is that I decide is Sunday!
*two weeks now and running