Thursday, February 4, 2010

Edged in History

We know Serena Williams and Roger Federer will always be remembered through the ages with accomplishments made. Time will tell if the two Junior winners of the Boys and Girls singles titles will follow Serena and Rodger.

Mean while the Auckland ITF Junior Grade 3 is providing some upsets....or are they upsets just on paper.Due to Mickey Mouse seedings that go along with these events you will always get upsets.To a certain extent if you can afford to play a lot of ITF's and you pick the right region and tournaments you will no doubt increase your ranking.Thats great it looks really good if you bring up the rankings list however is it a true indication of where you sit in the World ,for most..........NO. You can even get a World ranking reaching a quarter final of a Grade 4 Tournament in doubles at Timbuktu.Top Seed Ben McLachlan who is ranked 47 in World ITf Junior rankings would qualify for the New Zealand Transitional Player Incentive Program and could qualify for up to $18,000 of funding from Tennis New Zealand for this ranking.Yesterday Anton Bettink the 15th seed and ranked 553 at the start of the tournament defeated McLachlan 6-4 6-4.Both are 17 , looking at the funding status at this stage on the Transitional Player Incentive Program Bettink is not receiving anything.What I am saying maybe the funding is reaching players too late too help development.How the points accumulated must also be more stringent.Is the Transitional player funding adequate or should there be funding available at an earlier age?What about college players of the likes of James Meredith, what funding is available for that type of player who will not be accumulating ATP points because they are at college.So by the time a player such as Meredith finishes college at about 22 or 23 to qualify for the top funding you have to be ATP 235 or 185.Lets look at the Girls Event in Auckland, 4th Seed is Kathryn Westbury who on the entry List is still listed as a New Zealander but yet has never represented so allegiance to which country is vague has links also with Thailand.Westbury has the only WTA ranking out of the competitors in the Auckland Itf. On the ITF juniors she has only 157 ranking points. and is seeded 4th for the Auckland junior ITF.It comes as no surprise that she won Canterbury ITF last week and will be favorite to win the Auckland event.If she keeps accumulating points and reaches the top 60 ITF juniors she too will qualify for the top tier funding.Her current ranking would just about qualify her for tier three of the Transitional Player funding.Interesting that a WTA ranked player would choose to play Grade 3 and 4 tournaments in New Zealand what benefit is that? Maybe reading between the lines would find the benefits.Leela Beattie the 6th seed went down to the 12th seed JANG, Su Jeong (KOR) in a close match, Leela has an ITF junior ranking of around 261 .Jang is 499.Sean Berman was unseeded in the Australian Open Junior and went through to the final .What I am saying is all that is well and good having the transitional funding however what funding has been available for these players prior to Transitional Funding.Players are virtually funding themselves to reach this stage(even official New Zealand tours), it comes as no surprise that Juniors are forced to acquire cheap points at holiday spots such as Noumea and Fiji.It also comes as no surprise that the likes of Berman,Lavie and Westbury have left New Zealand early in their junior age to develop their tennis. So is this why the failure at Davis Cup and Fed Cup Level? Players arrive and qualify for the funding at 18 and 19 and it must feel like Christmas as they have virtually received peanuts to get to that transition.Then guess what we find out these players cannot cut it.New Zealand has a huge problem tennis is a summer sport not enough is done during the hibernation period(winter) to get juniors to where the action is, maybe more funding needs to be directed here than that unrealistic Transitional funding that is in place now.Maybe we could have both if we cut down on the administration costs : )

You can find details on the Transitional Player funding HERE

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