Unfortunately, despite the high level of competitiveness and the players involved, among what can be called the underwater world of tennis, unfortunately also includes the ATP Challenger Tour. There are many tennis players who try to make their entry into the top 100 to economically benefit from their talent and their passion, but who are forced to overcome an infinite series of obstacles to achieve certain goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which widened the gap between the tennis elite and all those kids forced to make many sacrifices to try to equalize the annual expenses and play the most important tournaments, probably thought of a point of no return.
As everyone knows, tennis was forced to stop for more than five months during the first phase of the health emergency. This long pause has highlighted even more the differences between the top hundred players in the world and the rest of the circuit.
The Financial Times has decided to denounce this unequal treatment in a report that begins with an emblematic question. "It is one of the most popular sports on the planet. So why do so many professional tennis players still struggle to make a living?" "If you want to do this job, you have to invest in yourself.
It's a big risk," explained Alicia Barnett, current number 173 in doubles in the WTA rankings. "I live with my father when I'm not around. It's hard not to be consumed by the thought of prize money, but in the end you have to play and realize that you are investing in yourself.
At the end of each tournament you make a report and when you think: Ok, I did well this week, you can relax a little. But it is secondary. You can share stories about how you ended up sleeping in a dating house to save money or why you ate oats in your room to avoid paying for breakfast." Liam Broady, current ATP number 128, also told about his experience: "The pressure is great.
If you don't do well, you will be dealing with a sure loss. It is a rather unstable income. It all depends on your results. Life around the world can be difficult, but you get used to it. It's a lifestyle, you could be away from home for 40 weeks a year.
You can't argue that the best players deserve the most money. Tennis is a business. Some players may perhaps earn less and share the rest of the prize pools. I reached the second round at Wimbledon in 2021; this allows me to pay my coach or my physiotherapist next year.
It was probably only during the pandemic that I started saving some money. The damage that all this brings to our sport is immense. There are many very talented players who never have the opportunity to reach the top. I found out I spent $ 12,000 every year stringing and buying racquets.
This sport is very expensive at the highest levels. Becoming number 250 in the world is an incredible achievement. Out of 7 million people, not many people can say they have achieved such a ranking. Sometimes it's not easy to earn a living doing sport." The ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, who did not use too many words, explained the situation in an exhaustive manner: "At some point you have to draw a line: in the ChallengerTourt you have to be able to balance expenses and balance costs, but also aware that it is a kind of university.
An investment, in which you try to enter the professional circuit and have a job. I don't think that at that level it will ever be possible to have a sustainable tour, simply because there is a lack of public interest, commitment from sponsors, TV and ticket revenues."
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