John Millman just wrote this for his official web page, talking about Tennis Australia, Challenger Tour and finantial issues at that level. really interesting one, in my opinion
The more you travel on tour the more you begin to pick up along the way. More often or not over the past couple of years I find myself asking the same questions over and over but can't quite seem to find the answers.We don't live in a perfect world and therefore one solution is not the answer to multiple questions.
It is impossible to please everyone, this much I understand. What happens however if a growing amount of people are asking the same questions? Will those 'upstairs' seek to find a solution for the majority of people or protect the small minority? If the minority were to still be protected and if federations were to be run like a government there is no doubt that they would be voted out and change would be the outcome. Unfortunately this is not the case.Tennis is a tough game.
Even more so when you are not playing ATP or Grand Slam events week in week out. Life is tough on the challenger tour and even more so on the future tour. Last week I played quarter final of both singles and doubles and cleared a whopping $1400 before tax. In the quarters I lost to former top 50 player Dudi Sela (now 100 in the world.) After my flight to Bangkok, accommodation, food and restringing for the week I made -$600. What a week. Tennis wise I played well, financially I had a shocker.
This is what happens week to week on the challenger tour.Over the past thirty years, prizemoney for challengers and futures has NOT increased 1%. Whereas, expenses have skyrocketed. It is no longer financially viable to play tennis or build your ranking for AUSTRALIAN tennis players on the challenger or future tour. This is different however for those competeing in foriegn countries. How is it different? Read on an see.Being an Australian Tennis player is a significant disadvantage in comparison with a lot of other players from different countries. The majority of touring professional tennis players in Australia have never had it so bad in my opinion, contrary to what you may hear
Financially unless you have significant external backing or you are in the extreme minority of touring players who are supported from the federation there is literally no way you can properly financially compete on the tour. How are we behind the eight ball in comparison with other players from different countries who play on the challenger and future tour also?Below is a list of countries and how many challengers and futures they have.
Spain- 5 challengers, 33 futures
Italy- 18 challengers, 28 Futures
France- 7 Challengers, 22 Futures
Germany- 7 Challengers, 20 Futures
Turkey- 3 challngers, 46 futures
USA- 14 Challengers, 32 futures
Brazil- 7 challengers, 27 futures
AUSTRALIA- 2 Challengers, 12 Futures
These are only the tournaments in a few countries. There are many other countries that have a higher future and challenger count compared to that of Australia- a grand slam country and therefore has one of the wealthiest federations. What this means for people who live in these countries is that they can base themselves at home with familiar surroundings. They can work with their coaches, physios and trainers from home to better prepare themselves for tournaments. The beauty of being where their country is situated means that even of they don't get into a tournament in their own country with the amount of tournaments in europe, south and north america means that a short trip by plane or train can take them to the next tournament. By having tournaments so accessible the result means that players expenses aren't so high meaning they could travel with a coach or actually make money on the tour; they can go away for shorter periods being able to go home after a few weeks of tournaments- resulting in more access to their physios (less injuries) and their coaches (better results.)
By having lower expenses it means they can go about being more professional on tour (access to personal coaches, physios and massage therapists), whilst at the same time keeping their expenses down. Thus meaning that they can play longer on the tour. It is alarming how many players in Australia have had to give away the game at a young age as it becomes financially unviable.It is an injustice that we only have 2 challengers in the year. Our federation is wealthy, a grand slam ensures this yet the money isn't being fed back into the game where the players in Australia are crying out for. More professional ranked tournaments.
Two challengers does not suffice. In fact it is an embarrasment. More and more players will be giving away the game due to insufficient funds. The majority of touring players haven't got access to a credit card with no limit. What's more, the word is amongst players that our second challenger could be getting cut. Yes, that's right, one challenger for the year.Travelling to the twelve futures that we have in Australia becomes almost as expensive as travelling overseas. I have met some great people on the future tour in Australia and have played in some great communities but from a purely financial point of view it is a nightmare of a schedule for unfunded tennis players.
Tournaments are played in remote places like Esperance (when i played there it took me a 5 hour plane ride followed by a 6 hour drive,) Kalgoorlie (five hours in the plane, 6 hour drive,) Cairns, Bendigo, Alice Springs, Port Pirie and Bundaberg. It is so expensive to go to these places yet what choice do we have. 95% of players come out of these tournaments losing a lot of money. And why do we have these tournaments in such remote places? One of the big reasons I'm hearing is that it is because it minimises the expenses of running the tournaments here for Tennis Australia with a lot of money being funded for by local councils and local sponsors. Whilst the costs may be minimal for Tennis Australia they are the maximum for Australian Tennis players, already in the red.At twenty-three in the eyes of some I am an oldie in Australia to be playing tennis.
The youth policy in place has forced older Australian tennis players to quit as finacially it is impossible to continue. Now most of these players in my category aren't crying out for funding as 1 in a 100 might get it but what would make them sleep easy at night and what would give them a chance to chase their dreams is support from the federation in ways of a comprehensive tournament schedule where ATP points are up for grabs. Unfortunately these cries seem to fall upon deaf ears. Instead we are forced to be away from Australia 10 months of the year where expenses are at a premium, coachless, fundless and by yourself. Wouldn't it be great if for 6 months of the year we could base ourseleves at home, with our family, coaches, trainers and friends their for support.
You know when scouting an opponent it's not uncommon to hear that they play extremely well in their backyard. Asians play great in asia, europeans play great in europe, americans grow legs when in america and south americans are beasts at home. Australians do not have that luxury or reputation, for Australians are never home.When asking why the majority of Australian tennis players aren't given the opportunities to properly compete, an answer that I've heard is, "tennis players in Australia have never had it so good..." Well I beg to differ as would 95% of Australian touring professionals.These changes wont happen overnight, nor will they happen during my career. I can only hope that one day Australian Tennis players are given a fair go with a comprehensive tournament schedule. I can only hope that 'old' twenty-three year olds can have a decent crack. I can only hope that eventually our questions will be heard and actions will be the answer or do those upstairs want to limit the amount of Australian top 100 players...