The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, May 12, 2020
A look at Ines Ibbou's response to Dominic Theim — Interview: Erica Perkins Jasper — Must-see women's tennis links
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Should high-ranked players support their lower-ranked counterparts?
Austrian ATP star Dominic Thiem found himself in some hot water this past week when asked about the Players’ Relief Fund, telling local press “I’ve seen players on the ITF Tour who don’t 100 percent commit to the sport. Many are quite unprofessional. I don’t see why I should give them money.” He also added, “Quite honestly I have to say that no tennis player will be fighting to survive, even those who are much lower-ranked…None of them are going to starve.”
World No. 620 Ines Ibbou hails from Algeria and even though she rose to No. 23 in the ITF Junior rankings in 2016, she has failed to make a deep impact on the WTA Tour. In fact, this year’s Qatar Total Open was her first tournament above the $25,000 level. Though she knows she comes from limited means, she created a video response to Thiem, which has since gone viral.
Matteo Berrettini acknowledged the Novak Djokovic-led initiative as a sign of appreciation, but he and Guido Pella join Thiem in their thoughts that the funds should go elsewhere to those directly impacted by COVID-19. World No. 152 Arina Rodionova took to Twitter to agree with Thiem’s sentiments and made an extremely valid point – it’s the ITF that has created such disparity in pay between the ITF Pro Circuit and the WTA Tour:
Now, Thiem has a right to do whatever he wants with his money, he earned it with his on-court results and endorsements. However, as I’ve mentioned tennis is a unique sport with no guaranteed contract and no union (yet). Our generation has been dealt a pandemic that has halted pretty much any form of entertainment and altered every industry. Isn’t it part of our civic duty to help out the less fortunate? Just because you’re a professional athlete, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t receive a wage to withstand COVID-19.
Venus Williams and Nick Kyrgios are two of tennis’ stars to hail Ibbou on her post. British player Tara Moore, who is running for one of the positions on the ITF’s newly-created player board, took to Twitter to explain how this basically boils down to a case of humanity.
Tennis players rely on tournaments to fund their everyday lives, on top of training. However, COVID-19 is an exception to the rule. The Player Relief Fund isn’t being created because of the incredible pay gap between the top and those in the minor leagues (on top of the difference between men and women). That’s an entirely different conversation on its own.
I think Thiem’s comments, if they were taken out of context or not, are small-minded and callous. The Player Relief Fund isn’t mandatory or used as means to provide long-term support to players. Like Moore mentioned in her tweets, there could be a future Grand Slam champion that could be forced to quit because of the tour’s shutdown. In a time where we should probably be more charitable and empathetic to everyone, it’s a shame Thiem used his voice and platform to denounce supporting his peers.
This Week in Women’s Tennis
WTA CEO Steve Simon officially went on the record to endorse the possible WTA-ATP merger, though stressed there were no serious discussions yet and the tour is economically functioning to run without it.
This week’s must-watch is Kristie Ahn and Louisa Chirico’s first cover they’re making to raise money for the World Central Kitchen:
Julie Helman opens up in WTA’s In This Moment that the right to a wage was the focus of the Original 9 banding together, but it didn’t take long for their bigger message to make its mark.
The WTA hopped on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s #Set4Success campaign to give the Class of 2020 a special sendoff after their college seasons were cut short:
Caroline Wozniacki checked into the Tennis Channel to discuss her self-isolating and recent trek to Africa. She opened up about not wanting to coach in the future and why she didn’t partner up on the doubles court with Serena Williams sooner.
Part two of WTA Insider’s Doubles Dossier with Gaby Dabrowski is up, with the Canadian opening up about her vision for growing doubles and the financial struggles doubles specialists face.
Victoria Chiesa continues to deliver with her WTA Officiating interviews. Her most recent chat is with Miriam Bley, Germany’s first female ITF Gold Badge Chair Umpire.
Anastasija Sevastova, Sania Mirza, Anett Kontaveit and Fernanda Contreras Gomez were voted by fans to receive the 2020 Fed Cup Heart Award.
In case you were needing some Quarantine movies to watch, Mark Hodgkinson has you covered on all of the movies tennis-related. Don’t worry, Wimbledon is included.
Bianca Andreescu was the latest WTA star to be focused on Eurosport’s vodcast, Tennis Legends, where the US Open champion shares how fast her 2019 success came and hopes her best tennis is still in front of her.
Venus Williams continued her Instagram Live workouts with special guests and her most recent Live featured Naomi Osaka, with their talk going over tennis, food, art and what they’re doing in self-isolation. Maria Sharapova had her own Instagram Live, this time with Novak Djokovic, where she opened up about her transition into retirement and how far their friendship goes back.
Former World No. 39 Jill Craybas and her husband Raj Chaudhuri spoke to the WTA about the masks and other Personal Protective Equipment they’ve created and donated to those on the COVID-19 front lines.
WTA players took to social media to wish their matriarchs a Happy Mother’s Day. Bianca Andreescu and Coco Gauff’s posts were my personal favorites:
In Grand Slam news: Roland Garros, who sent shockwaves throughout the tennis community by rescheduling the tournament without any input, may have to move dates again and play without fans. The 2021 Australian Open is still scheduled for January, but the tournament has four contingency plans in case of cancellation.
WTA Insider takes a look at Dinara Safina’s incredible 2009 clay court run, where the Russian went 20-2, with both losses coming to Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu are among the WTA stars continuing to use their platform to thank those impacted by COVID-19.
Tweet of the Week
Kristie Ahn continues to deliver…..
Five at the IX: Erica Perkins Jasper
Erica Perkins Jasper is currently the Director of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athletics after a successful four year stint as the Chief Operating Officer of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. From 2002-2015, she coached Division I tennis, including nine seasons as Head Coach (Georgia Southern, Michigan State and New Mexico). A 2015 Washington State University Athletics Hall of Famer, Perkins Jasper currently stands as the No. 7 record holder in singles victories and had four total NCAA Individual Championships berths.
Joey: You’ve gone from a tennis player to coach to executive, but now hold a high administrative role. Was that always part of the trajectory you envisioned?
Erica: No, not exactly; it’s really been an evolution. I think though I was always dreaming and wondering what I could do. I studied history as an undergrad and wanted to be a lawyer. At some point, while injured as a student-athlete, I couldn’t imagine NOT being involved in tennis/sports and decided that it might be fun to be a coach. Somewhere around my 5th or 6th year coaching, I realized that while I loved being on court, I didn’t see that as a long time career for me and wondered if I could make an impact as an administrator. While my career path to AD has not been a traditional one, I take pride in having followed some incredible opportunities and as a result have had a variety of work (and life!) experiences. As you know, I’ve said “yes” to a lot of amazing opportunities.
Joey: With COVID-19 prematurely ending the collegiate athletic calendar, I’m curious how it’s impacted your program specifically since it’s DIII.
Erica: One of the biggest strengths of DIII is the connectivity between athletics and an institution’s educational mission. In our case, our department encompasses varsity athletics, physical education, and recreation (which includes intramurals and club sports). Clearly, back in March when our three institutions made the decision to move classes online, we not only had to tackle the suspension of our spring sports but also had to move our PE classes and Recreation programming online. In a lot of ways it’s been a great opportunity to see team shine. Our coaches really demonstrated the value they serve as mentors for our student-athletes, helping them address this massive change to their lives and through PE and Recreation, we showed a ton of creativity in bringing health and wellness to our whole campus—even if no one was actually on campus.
Joey: You’re just over a year into your role as Director of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athletics. What are your proudest achievements as Director and what goals do you have for CMS in the future?
Erica: My one year anniversary is just coming up on June 1st actually! And what a year it has been. Obviously, we had fantastic Fall and Winter results from a competitive standpoint—I believe we were sitting at 5th in the Director’s Cup standings when sports were suspended. However, I would label my success there as “staying out of the way” of our fantastic coaches and student-athletes and providing support and a smile when needed! But really I am tremendously proud of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff for how we have handled life since March 11th. The stories of leadership and teamwork by our entire team are what make me smile and make be so happy to be here at CMS.
Joey: The IX is an ode to Title IX. Since you were both a college player and coach, can you talk about the importance and sometimes strategy Title IX brings?
Erica: For me as a former female athlete, I was a benefactor of Title IX’s impact in college athletics, earning a scholarship to Washington State and walking away with two degrees, no debt, and the foundation for my career. Now as an administrator, I think a great exercise to continually ask the question “are we creating opportunity for everyone and in an equal and balanced fashion?”
Joey: What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given and who gave it?
Erica: In the recruiting process to Washington State, my dad once told me “go where you are wanted” (they were the only one who wanted me!) and that has always stuck with me.
Joey: I’ve started to ask every subject what they would tell their 18-year-old self, in hindsight. What are some things you would tell Erica?
Erica: Use your toughness; it’s your weapon. Every experience has value and is preparing you for the next step. Being the smartest person in the room is over-rated. Work hard, be kind, and be yourself; you’re more than enough.