Two major decisions have been undertaken in the ATP that could spell the demise of tennis in California, leaving the state with little international recognition on the tour.
Just days after the ATP board of directors voted against increasing the prize money at Indian Wells, Los Angeles’ Farmers Classic was revealed to be in the process of being sold to Bogota, Colombia.
California used to boast four ATP tournaments and was the go-to place for competitors preparing for the US Open in late summer. However, after these two revelations there is little chance of the sport ever reclaiming its former glory in the golden state as tennis expands to more interested parts of the world.
The ATP’s decision not to increase Indian Wells’ prize fund, a raise reported to be around 29% to $1.6m, shows just how detached American tennis is becomming. The increase would favour finalists more than the remainder of the field, going against the ATP’s ethos of fair pay. Undercard tour players with little chance of winning Indian Wells would see a drop in relative pay, compared to the successful four that make the semis – and we all know who they’d be.
Meanwhile, the Southern California Tennis Association’s decision to sell Los Angeles to Colombia proves the sport is simply not attractive enough in the region. Being an ATP-250 tournament, the SCTA have struggled to bring in big-name players and 2012’s top seed was world number 41 Benoit Paire, who collapsed in the first round.
If tennis in America is to live up to the standard set by the US Open, organisations must start investing in across-the-board prize money to attract big-name players. Los Angeles has reportedly lost money in its last four tournaments and this is mainly down to a lack of sponsorship due to the poor standard of competition.
Sponsors will only turn up if big-name players do, and so fairly distributed prize money is the key to maintaining California’s sporting reputation.
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