Lack of depth a double fault for women’s tennis
A lack of depth in women's tennis has become a real concern for the sport, with one local tennis coach believing the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has had a double fault on the issue.
The recently completed Ballina Open hosted more than 266 participants this year, but the majority came from junior numbers and was skewed towards male players.
Tournament organiser Brandon Rowe saw the impact of the lack of women competitors at the Ballina Open this year, which he felt was light on depth.
"We do question where all the 20 to 30-year-old women players are, they're either really good and trying to have a go on tour or they're not playing and it's actually a little bit sad that there wasn't some older ones (in the Ballina Open)," Rowe said.
Some of that depth was reduced though the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the withdrawal of some players from greater Sydney and prevented others from flying into the tournament.
Rowe said he believed the changes made by ITF had a major impact on women's tennis.
"When I first ran this (Ballina Open) in about 2014, you used to get some of those players that were having a go on the lower level tours, they had ATP and WTA, then they had futures and challenges underneath so there was people that were playing those and would come back over Christmas and play," he said.
"We had players that were previously world ranked but the International Tennis Federation did something where they kinda culled that third-tier and it had a real impact."
There has been concern raised by tennis players that they cannot afford to play professionally on tour with professional tennis player Sofia Shapatava launched a petition earlier this year demanding change in financial aid to lower tier players.
"It's a little bit disappointing, especially in the women's competition," Rowe said.