ATPers Continue Push For More Prize Money, Shifting Focus To Smaller Tourneys
As good as "recent times have been" in pro tennis, a debate "continues about how the sport could utilize its current profit windfall to better stimulate growth and develop the next class of superstars who will move the game forward," according to Chris Oddo in a special to USA TODAY. Pro tennis "might have never had it so good in terms of far-reaching popularity and widespread appeal, thanks to global cast of stars that has captivated the imagination of fans, marketers and media." The money "is coming, particularly from the Grand Slams," but how to "distribute the money is a far more complicated question." ATP player council member Sergiy Stakhovsky said, "It's about making the sport vital for all the players. We would like to make our sport bigger so that all the tournaments grow side by side, so there's no gaps. It's going to be extremely hard." Fellow player Rhyne Williams said, "It's one thing if you're paying for just yourself and your meals and your travel, but if you're paying for a full-time traveling coach, and all his expenses too, it can get pricey." Andy Murray also weighed in, "The Challengers and the Futures need to be able to increase their prize money so that more tennis players can make a living. The Slams obviously make a lot of money, and yeah, if there's a way we can sort of filter some of that money down to the bottom end, then I think that would help." Oddo wrote, "It's not just the Challengers that need help, the ATP's smaller events such as the 250 and 500-level events are struggling to stay solvent as well." ESPN analyst Cliff Drysdale: "The 250s are dying on the vine. Look how many tournaments are leaving the U.S." (USATODAY.com, 8/28).