The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, March 24, 2020

WTA’s suspension extended & who should fill in Tokyo’s calendar slot? | Interview: Shelby Rogers shares an athlete’s perspective on COVID-19

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COVID-19 halts WTA’s comeback until June, pushes Olympics to 2021

I hope everyone is hanging in there while the uncertainty of when we can go back to our normal routines still lingers. I know social distancing is tough, but it’s an absolute must to adhere to the guidelines set by the CDC and your local government officials.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, tennis on the WTA tour has been suspended through June 7, with the ITF joining them while we try to flatten the curve of COVID-19. As a result, both WTA and ITF rankings have been frozen. CEO Steve Simon penned a letter to the fans to thank them through this uncertain time and gave special kudos to the WTA Players Council for their help through all of the last-minute changes.

WTA Insider’s Courtney Ngyuen went more in-depth about what the frozen rankings mean, but there’s no answer as to what will be happening once play resumes. Should the 2019 points for the 2020 cancelled tournaments be honored until those events in 2021? Is that fair to players who didn’t participate in those events either year? I personally think the WTA should try to create a formula to whittle away those ranking points off the frozen rankings one week at a time so the playing field is more even in 2021. There’s no fix that will help everyone, but I have a hard time accepting 2019 points to count in 2021, even though 2020 had no action.

The latest sporting shock came yesterday by the International Olympic Committee, who announced that the Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled for July 24-August 4, will be postponed. No set date has been announced, just that it will be in 2021 and no later than the summer. 

With that, even more uncertainty remains. Players were planning on retiring this year with Tokyo in mind. The berths for Tokyo are dependent on rankings the week after the French Open; how will they now be altered? Some IOC berths are dependent on a ranking (Top 300 for the Pan-American and African Games winners). What if they reach it by May, but points fall off by the deadline? Also, who is going to take over those two weeks originally held by Tokyo? 

The space in the calendar was just before the US hardcourt swing began. Ideally, I’d love to see a resolution for Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston to figure out a plan to take over those dates and have some sort of play that align. The WTA has an open spot opposite Albany the week before the US Open, too. What about Charleston taking over that spot and Indian Wells/Miami consolidating their fields and hosting the week of the Olympics? Also, what about Wimbledon? They could move their dates to that time. That’s definitely the biggest question to keep an eye on with this recent news.

I hope to see more resolutions regarding the rankings and protocol for Tokyo by the time the tour resumes play in the summer. Clearly, we’re in unprecedented times and there are no answers even possible to arise in the immediate future. However, the health of the globe is and should be the first priority.

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Players are trying to fill in their time and sharing their updates on social media, including practice alternatives. However, one player is stealing the thunder: Kristie Ahn on TikTok. Please watch the best content during this break:

In my must-read article of the week, Steve Tignor writes how the WTA’s creation laid out the grassroots for the US Women’s National Team in their lawsuit against US Soccer.

Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Caty McNally are a few of the WTA stars who are using their platform to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts.

ITF Vice President Katrina Adams spoke to’s Podcast about the ITF is handling and approaching the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over a year ago, Bianca Andreescu was a newly-minted WTA Top 100 player. Now, she’s a global superstar whose impact on Canada is constantly growing.

Renata Zarazua, a recipient of the ITF’s Grand Slam Development Fund, opened up about her recent semifinal success in Acapulco and how the GSDF helped assist that.

The Italian Tennis Federation hopes to have the Internazionali d’Italia played sometime in 2020, ideally before the September date Roland Garros asserted themselves.

Kamilla Bartone, the 10th-ranked junior in the world, shared a blog to the ITF on how COVID-19 has affected her preparations in Germany.

Anna-Lena Friedsam, fresh off of her second career WTA final in Lyon, talked about her comeback from potentially career-ending shoulder injuries and what she has her sights set on.

The WTA announced that the tour and their members collectively raised over $280,000 to help the Australian bushfire relief.

The US Open announced that their hardcourts will now be furnished by Laykold, after Decoturf has handled the courts since 1978. I’m very curious to see if the court speed improves as hardcourts and clay courts get closer in speed as time passes.

Monica Puig shares her life from COVID-19 isolation in this week’s episode of Tennis’ My Tennis Life.

Tweet of the Week

Madison Keys and Vania King have joined WTA Charities to directly those affected by COVID-19

Five at the IX: Shelby Rogers

Shelby Rogers is currently ranked No. 113 and has been ranked as high as No. 48. She was a quarterfinalist at Roland Garros in 2016 and in singles, reached two WTA finals and won six ITF titles. In doubles, she’s reached one WTA final and has won two ITF titles. Finding her form following knee surgery, she opens up about the sudden halt of the tennis calendar due to COVID-19 and how she’s practicing her social distancing. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Joey: With COVID-19 sweeping the globe, players are struggling to figure out ways to train most efficiently or are using the suspension as a break away from the game. What are you doing with your free time?
Shelby: Trying to stay in shape and stay strong! Running up my stairs, running outside, strength exercises with bands, body weight, etc. I completed a 1000 piece puzzle the other day and have been trying to get better at my piano skills, meditation, reading, journaling. I have watched a few shows but I am honestly not a big tv person so that doesn’t take up much of my time, I like to be active, playing games or FaceTiming friends. The other day, four of us played this game called “Quiplash” over FaceTime, it was so much fun. I am also taking classes online to get my degree in Psychology. I have never been more thankful to be a student than at this time working on a behavioral neuroscience course.

Joey: As an athlete that doesn’t have the opportunity to rely on a salary or paid contract, what are your biggest challenges with COVID-19 suspending the tennis season?
Shelby: The lack of pay will definitely be tough. Our travel expenses are down, which is good, but the bills keep coming! It’s also tough to adjust your goals for the season. I had to change my mindset a little bit and restructure my daily motivations. I am trying to focus on the positive things about this time, like getting to spend quality time in my new home. I’m trying to imagine how I would feel at the end of an 8-week long trip and wanting to be home. We always want what we don’t have, so I am doing my best to stay in the moment.

Joey: You’ve had a pretty strong start to the season, highlighted by the biggest title of your career at the $100,000 ITF in Midland. With the season at a halt, how do you continue the momentum with such a big break in between?
Shelby: I keep joking that it was a bad time to be finding my game again! But we are all in the same boat here, trying to stay fit and ready for that moment when we do get to compete again. No one knows what will work, some players are resting, some are working out and working hard. I don’t think there is a right way to do this. It’s more about the mindset and staying in a good mental space.

Joey:  You had a bad knee injury that kept you out of the game for a year where you had to start from ground zero. What was the biggest takeaway from that journey?
Shelby: My biggest takeaway was that I don’t want to be out of shape again! (laughs) It took me a while to get back into playing shape and I worked really hard to do that, so I am doing my best to maintain it during this off time. I also learned that the mind is a very important tool, so taking care of that just as much as my body. 

Joey: With the public isolating themselves at home, what’s one workout – related or not to tennis – they can do at home?
Shelby: Yesterday, I hit some balls against my garage door – classic that I haven’t done since I was about 10 years old. I also like simple body weight exercises like lunges, jump squats, tricep dips, and planks that you can do anywhere anytime!

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 High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.