The WTA needs to be represented by women — Beijing quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Oct. 10, 2023

Howdy, y’all and Happy Tennis Tuesday! I mentioned in last week’s Tennis Tuesday how the WTA released the results of their elections for positions on the WTA Players’ Council, WTA Tournament Council and WTA Board of Directors. However, after looking into the results — the Tournament Council and Board of Directors, specifically — really had me pause in my tracks. The lack of women and/or persons of color making up the table representing the largest global women’s sport is honestly a bit disgusting.

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Lets break these positions down. According to the WTA Rulebook,

The WTA is administered and governed by the WTA Tour, Inc. (“WTA Tour”
or “WTA”), a US registered corporation whose members are the players, its
recognized WTA 1000, WTA 500, and WTA 250 Tournaments worldwide,
and the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”). The Chief Executive Officer
(“CEO”) of the WTA Tour is responsible for the day-to-day operations of
the WTA. The Board of Directors of the WTA Tour is comprised of three (3)
Player Board Representatives, three (3) Tournament Board Representatives,
one (1) ITF Board Representative, and the CEO. The Board of Directors
is responsible for establishing the long-term strategic plan for the WTA.
Alternate Board Representatives for each member class may also attend
Board of Directors meetings as determined by the CEO.

  • Player Board Representatives
    • This is perhaps the greatest “win” when it comes to representation, with two of the three slots made of by women and a fourth — Brandon Burke, an alternate representative — being a person of color. IX Friend Kristie Ahn was a Player Board Representative, but she was replaced by Kurt Zumwalt, who was a former Board member for both the USTA and USTA Foundation.
      • Vanessa Webb: Council Chair; 1-100+ Singles and Doubles-Only Representative
      • Anja Vreg: Top 20 Singles Representative
      • Kurt Zumwalt: 21-100+ Singles and Doubles-Only Representative
        • Brandon Burke: Player Alternate Representative
  • Tournament Board Representatives
    • This perhaps might be a bit too blunt and perhaps a bit rich coming from me, but holy white men. Sure, tennis is an elitist sport that chronically shuns out people of color and women — you can choose the order — but these men have been a constant force in Councils and Boards since I was an intern at the WTA nearly a decade ago. Throw in David Haggerty, who essentially runs unopposed in the ITF elections, it’s just a rinse-and-repeat for these seats every time they’re up for grabs.
      • Adam Barrett: Council Chair, Americas Representative 
      • Peter-Michael Reichel: Europe Representative 
      • Cameron Pearson: Asia-Pacific Representative 
      • Bob Moran: Tournament Alternate Representative 
        • Additional Board Representatives
          • Steve Simon: WTA CEO
          • David Haggerty: Federation Representative
          • Kris Dent: Federation Alternate
  • Tournament Council members
    • Perhaps this list is the most disappointing and the reason I’m even calling this out. Of course, the Tournament Board seats are included in here, but only one woman is listed here — Laura Ceccarelli, who was a Vice President in the WTA offices before leaving for the private sector in Asia a few years ago. Tournament Council members oversee the governing of the tournaments, as well as decision-making for potential tournament payouts. An example would be the WTA having to pay back Guadalajara since the tournament had an influx of mandatory player withdrawals.
      • Adam Barrett: Council Chair; Americas Board Representative 
      • Bob Moran: Americas 500 member; Board Alternate
      • Gavin Ziv: Americas 1000 member
      • Kyle Ross: Americas 250 member
      • Peter-Michael Reichel: Europe Board Representative 
      • Gerard Tsobanian: Europe 1000 member
      • Alastair Garland : Europe 500 member
      • Aljoscha Thron: Europe 250 member
      • Cameron Pearson: Asia-Pacific Board Representative  
      • Charles Hsiung: Asia-Pacific 1000 member
      • Laura Ceccarelli: Asia-Pacific 500 member
      • Luiz Carvalho: Asia-Pacific 250 member

There are plenty of former players overtaking tournament director roles — Laura Robson at Nottingham and even Conchita Martinez for the Billie Jean King Cup and even more at the ITF World Tour level. Do you overhaul the current setup for the organization to open it up to ITF tournament directors or former players instead of tournament directors being picked by what level said tournament is?

It’s hard for me to say what can or should be done, but it’s alarming that the Women’s Tennis Association — outside of the WTA Players’ Council — has only three women at the total table compared to the dozen plus men at the moment. By having no female representation, you carry the risk of continuing the status quo, basically a cycle of money going into the same pockets of the same organizations with no real growth. Look at Mexico, who is getting the WTA Finals this year. GS Sports is just padding their wallets with the recent influx of WTA tournaments added to the calendar. Don’t be surprised to see Gustavo Santoscoy or Gustavo Santoscoy Jr. in the future on these committees.

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Now, let me be real here. I think term limits would be a fantastic start to helping more women get leadership experience in these elected positions. Or putting in the WTA rulebook that a certain percentage of elected positions should be held by women. That being said, what happens when said term ends? Who can take over if these men are the ones running the tournaments and there’s no female leadership at the local level?

It’s imperative that the WTA begins some grassroot organization for each of their tournaments to help funnel the next elected leaders of the sport. The tour needs to be represented in all facets by the player body themselves, not just on the WTA Players’ Council.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Iga Swiatek won her fifth singles title of the year at the China Open, hitting two winners and zero unforced errors in her straight-setter over Liudmila Samsonova. Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo won the doubles title over Giuliana Olmos and Chan Hao-Ching to continue their strong season.

The spots for the doubles teams at the WTA Finals Cancun are heating up after Katerina Siniakova & Barbora Krejcikova, Desirae Krawczyk & Demi Schuurs and Ena Shibahara & Shuko Aoyama booked their slots. Marketa Vondrousova, Ons Jabeur and Karolina Muchova also sealed their spots in the WTA Finals.

Some neat data about WTA Finals qualifiers:

WTA tennis is returning to China with an influx of talent on the rise from the country, likely due to the pioneering of Li Na, who retired nearly 10 years ago.

IX Friend Lauren Embree had one of the most decorated collegiate tennis careers that not only earned her a University of Florida Athletics Hall of Fame berth this year, but the honor of being the Homecoming Weekend’s “Ms. Two Bits.”

Tennis balls continue to be a heavy conversation topic for players on tour, but will we ever see just one type of ball used across the globe? Is that even fair?

We’ll discuss BJK Cup rosters another week, but top players who qualify for Cancun are skipping out because of the time difference yet again:

Mary Stoiana of Texas A&M became the first Aggie to win the ITA All-American Championship title with a come-from-behind win over Miami’s Alexa Noel. Oklahoma’s Dana Guzman and Alina Shcherbinina won the doubles crown over Virginia’s Melodie Collard and Annabelle Xu. Consolation titles went to Oklahoma State’s Anastasiya Komar in singles and Southern California’s Eryn Cayetano and Emma Charney in doubles.

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Five at The IX: China Open

Q. Could you maybe speak a little bit about your emotions at the end of that match, of a long tournament. Just now you said this is a big victory for you. What makes it so big? Does the recent demotion to No. 2 have any context there, as well?

IGA SWIATEK: I mean, I would say the overall state that I kind of had for couple of weeks, I don’t know, I feel like this tournament will give me confidence for the rest of my career that there’s always ability, I mean, a chance to overcome and work on what you do or what you feel. You can always get better. Sometimes it’s kind of pretty easy, but we tend to make it more complicated in our heads.

I’m really happy that I just focused on hard work. It kind of paid off – maybe not instantly, but I’m happy that after US Open I just got back to basics and just worked really hard tennis-wise. I’ll just continue to do that.

For sure winning this trophy is something that will, yeah, teach me kind of a lesson for the rest of my life.

Q. You had a bunch of really great victories during this tournament, against higher-ranked opponents a lot of the time. What are you going to take away from this experience in Beijing?

LIUDMILA SAMSONOVA: I think I made a lot of good things this week. I have to realize a little bit right now, but…

I don’t know, today I think doesn’t work so much what I wanted to do. I need to see the match, to see the match again, to see what I can do better.

But for the week, it’s something unbelievable. I didn’t expect it, so great.

Q. I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about what your week has been like. You had the big win in the first round against the French Open champions. Just in general, being in Beijing, getting these wins, having it seems like a good vibe throughout the week.

MARIE BOUZKOVA: Yeah, I think the first-round match was really tough, so we had to just pretty much, like, start as strong as we can right from the start, right from the first round. Then, obviously, that was a super hard match to find a way to win.

Then we had some days off. We went to the Great Wall of China, so we did something off the court, as well. Then I think just throughout the week, we’ve been, like, telling ourselves just to keep repeating day after day, doing the same things and being focused on the right things at the moment.

Just enjoy the moment, as well, because that’s our main strength, that we enjoy so much. We just try to find the way to fight for every point and give ourselves the best chance as we can in the moment. I think that’s what we did pretty much the whole week here or anywhere that we play. Pretty much like that every single time.

I think that’s something that we enjoy so much or I enjoy so much, from Sara and her team. It’s just like a pleasure to experience every single day and every single match.

SARA SORRIBES TORMO: I don’t know if I have something else to say.

Yeah, for me, Marie of course is a very good friend, someone that I really love. It’s very nice to be playing with a person that no matter what happens on court is going to be everything okay. We are just trying to enjoy every time we play together, trying to enjoy every time we can practice together.

The other day she was telling me, because we had a couple days after we won our second-round match, she was telling me it was like when we were practicing in Australia these two weeks. That’s good for us (smiling).

We enjoy having time together. We have, of course, our space as well. We are focused on our singles and we are trying to improve every day.

Yeah, it’s of course a pleasure.

Q. On the streak, what makes you most proud about being able to string those along across big events?

COCO GAUFF: Yeah, one of the goals that I set earlier in the year was for me to do well in the big events, do better on the 1000 level. I accomplished that goal. I’m really proud of myself.

I think that I have a lot to improve on. So I think that’s what makes me excited for next year. After WTA Finals I have some more weeks to really practice and improve. I do notice, like, my game gets better every time I go through even like a two-week break of just practicing.

Yeah, I’m really proud of myself. Hopefully next year I can continue this consistency, maybe not 16 in a row on a consistent level, but as long as I can string along some wins, 1000 title wins, and hopefully a Grand Slam would be a great goal for me next year.

Q. You won a Grand Slam in the doubles. Also your ranking is going up in singles. More exposure in the media compared to previous years. How are you dealing with the pressure in terms of different activities? Did you see yourself growing in this regard?

WANG XINYU: Coming into here, the first matches I was still trying to adapt because it’s been a long time since I came back to China. A lot of people were cheering for me. I felt nervous. There were times when I had difficulties adjusting.

But I think this is a process because there’s so many people cheering for you. It comes also with some concerns. But it’s a good concern, a good thing that can encourage me to do better.

I really enjoy every match here in the China Open.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon