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ITF World Tennis Tour: conoce a las estrellas antes de que se hagan famosas

El ITF World Tennis Tour está liderando el impulso hacia la paridad de género en los premios de tenis y continúa brindando una plataforma para el desarrollo de las futuras estrellas del juego.

El ITF World Tennis Tour, que alberga torneos de tenis profesionales para principiantes y proporciona un camino entre el ITF Junior World Tennis Tour y los niveles de élite del tenis profesional masculino, ofrece puntos de clasificación de torneos que contribuyen a una clasificación ATP o WTA. Esto permite a los profesionales avanzar al ATP Challenger Tour y al WTA Tour, y finalmente a los Grand Slams.

El Tour ofrece más de 1000 torneos anuales en 70 países, ofreciendo importantes premios en metálico para ayudar a reducir los costes de los jugadores y, en última instancia, permitir que más personas se ganen la vida.

Aquí, en una entrevista exclusiva con Tennis365, el director del ITF World Tennis Tour, Andrew Moss, nos cuenta la historia interna del equipo que proporciona una plataforma para la próxima generación de estrellas del tenis.

¿Cuál es el papel principal del ITF World Tennis Tour?

La amplia misión de la ITF es desarrollar el tenis a nivel mundial y el World Tennis Tour está en el centro de esa estrategia. A finales del año pasado, de los 100 primeros clasificados del circuito masculino y femenino, alrededor de 50 de cada uno eran ex top ten juniors. Es un camino tan fuerte y es la arteria principal del juego juvenil a los niveles de élite.

¿Qué premio en efectivo se ofrece?

El premio total anual en metálico del World Tennis Tour nunca superó los 25 millones de dólares hasta el año pasado, impulsado principalmente por un récord de 15 millones de dólares en el World Tennis Tour femenino. Este año, pronosticamos $17,4 millones para mujeres, lo que representa un aumento del 15 %. Tuvimos un tercer premio más en metálico en el primer trimestre de este año para mujeres y un 50% más que en el primer trimestre de 2019 y esto es un cambio real en lo que podemos ofrecer a los jugadores.

¿Qué importancia tiene la paridad de género en los premios en metálico?

Hay un esfuerzo real en la ITF para lograr la paridad de género en todos los niveles del juego. Con eso en mente, estamos tratando de brindar mejores oportunidades de compensación en el World Tennis Tour para que más mujeres puedan ver legítimamente el tenis profesional como una carrera. Esto significó más inversión en las categorías femeninas W60, W80 y W100 [respectively, $60,000, $80,000 and $100,000 in prize money) in a bid to grow the game in those events.

At the same time, we have introduced a new women’s W40 category (40,000 in prize money) and it means that since 2019, we will have doubled that level of event. We had 76 tournaments at the W60, W80 and W100 level four years ago and, including the new W40 category, we will have 150 of these events this year for women. Continuing the growth at that level is all part of our strategy.

We often hear players suggesting it’s hard to make a living out of the game if you are not ranked in the top 100, so can the World Tennis Tour help to solve that issue?

We do a lot of work with the tours around scheduling to ensure it is the most cost-effective for players. It’s not just about tournament numbers, it’s also about what we can offer players. Complimentary hospitality has not been required in the past, but our W80 and W100 tournaments do require hospitality for players now, which will be around 30 events per year. This is a big deal as it means players will have their hotel covered and they may also be able to have their coach onsite, which we know is a massive issue at that level of the game. We want to ensure we are delivering something the players are proud to be a part of.

How does the ITF World Tennis Tour fit into the global tennis calendar?

We work with the WTA and ATP to make sure our scheduling is as efficient as possible, so if you are playing a tournament in Tunisia we want to have a follow-up tournament at a similar level. That means a player can stay in one place and play for two consecutive weeks. We are also working on a pathway study to look at player costs, travel, what they have had to pay out.

What can fans expect to see if they watch a World Tennis Tour event?

The World Tennis Tour gives you a chance to see the next stars in tennis at the start of their journey. It’s almost like getting to know a band before they are famous. We look at someone like Mirra Andreeva, who won two back-to-back W60s in Switzerland before she made her mark on the WTA Tour by performing so well at the Madrid Open. There are so many stories like that on our Tour.

Iga Swiatek won the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2018
Iga Swiatek won the ITF World Tennis Tour in 2018

How can fans follow the ITF World Tennis Tour?

We stream matches on the ITF website and it gives it great exposure. In addition, we have recently launched a dedicated World Tennis Tour Instagram account and hopefully that will allow us to reach out to a big tennis audience. Part of what we are trying to do with the social media work is highlight the stories of players who have progressed through the ITF World Tennis Tour in the past and you look back and see Iga Swiatek winning a W60 in Montreux just five years ago and won it. Carlos Alcaraz was M25 Denia just four years ago and there will be more stories like this to come.

READ MORE: Are Novak Djokovic’s French Open hopes dependant on the weather?

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