Re: *~!Waskeholics Unite!~*
Davis-Cup-Held – ATP
By: Kai Psotta and Steven Joergensen
Alexander Waske’s job as doubles specialist is in danger; the players’ association wants to bully him out of the competition – but the professional German tennis player is actively defending himself.
Information about the lawsuit: At select tournaments the players association ATP tests rules changes for doubles: sets only up to five, with a score of 4:4 the tie-break decides, in the case of a deuce the next point. Further, as of 2008 only those players who are in the singles competition will also be entitled to compete in doubles. 45 doubles specialists have brought a claim against this.
In three years, Alexander Waske (30) will be unemployed. At the latest when the ATP players association succeeds in implementing the planned reforms to doubles tennis. The goal of enhancing the competition through changing the rules threatens the existence/livelihood of specialists like Waske. “In that case 2008 would be the end for me,” he says. In Germany, however, it is precisely for his qualities as a doubles specialist that Waske is loved.
With Tommy Haas (27) at this side he is a point guarantor for the German team. Most recently during the return to the Davis Cup World Group, prior to that when the World Cup title was won in May 2005 (Arag World Team Cup)
Pursuant to the ATP’s plan, as of 2008 only those players who are in the singles competition will also be entitled to compete in doubles. Whoever is good at doubles, but not at singles will be left behind – meaning players like Waske. This would apply to all ATP competitions. Events organized by the world association ITF, including the Davis Cup and the four Grand Slam competitions, are not subject to these rules.
“How am I supposed to gain doubles experience?” Waske asks and says, “I will no longer be able to play in the Davis Cup.”
Further, Waske’s greatest dream of participating in the doubles competition at the Olympic Games in Peking is in danger of being foiled. Without any game experience, the National Olympic Committee would not nominate him. “That would be bitter.”
But Waske does not want to surrender without a fight. In the meantime he has, along with 44 colleagues, sued the ATP – assisted by one of the largest law firms in the U.S. Cost: $50,000. “Each one of us had to pay between $250.00 and $2,000.00 out of his/her own pocket,” Waske disclosed. “I also paid my share.”
SPORT BILD has a copy of the claim. In the claim attorney John Sullivan demands the retraction of the regulation. “ATP has until December 15th to respond.” Otherwise, sixty of the top one hundred players would lose their jobs.
The ATP was founded in the United States in 1972 and is subject to U.S. law. It [U.S. law] states that the best must have the opportunity to participate in sports competitions.
“The new ATP rules break this law”, Sullivan alleges.
Further point: The players’ council rejected the doubles reform with a vote of 8:0.
However, the three players’ representatives on the board of directors did not adhere to the decision and voted for the reform.
Waske to SPORT BILD: “They are obligated to assert our opinions during votes, not their own. That is definite. They voted against us and thereby betrayed us. A hundred years ago they would have been hanged from a tree for that.”
Sullivan even said: “Perhaps the players’ representatives received financial incentives. The whole thing smells fishy.”
Aside from Waske, another German player is suing: Michael Kohlmann (31), also a doubles specialist.
“At the Davis Cup and the World Team Cup the doubles competition has significance. Not at ATP tournaments,” Kohlmann says. “For years integral elements have been whittled away at. For example, the prize money was cut. We are regarded as second-class players. The lawsuit was the only possibility of being heard.”
Waske’s opinion thereto: “We finally have a means with which to apply pressure. We will not withdraw the claim at the opponent’s first response.” Waske noted that there will be no out of court settlement until there is a good and signed proposal on the table.
And further: “The players do not see the ATP as our organization, but as an opponent. As an organization that imposes things upon us.”
The ATP was only prepared to give SPORT BILD a brief statement: “We are in the midst of a test phase. Before it is concluded, we will not say anything.”
Horst Klosterkemper, head of ATP Europe, anticipates the consequences: “It’s painful for me that the doubles specialists will eventually become obsolete.”
The possibility of qualifying for doubles by playing singles is not an option for Waske. “I am thirty and still move well. I would have nothing against still playing doubles in two to three years,” says Waske. “There it is not the movement to the left and right that is the most important.” There is still a chance for agreement. Otherwise the legal costs will explode. Sullivan: “It could cost a half a million dollars.”
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