WTA board considering allowing top players to play more smaller events
Top 10 players could be allowed to play two International events in each half of the season instead of one, if a proposed rule change is approved by the WTA board.
Auckland tournament director Karl Budge, who is the Asia-Pacific representative on the board, told the Sunday News, a New Zealand newspaper, that he and Carlos Fleming, a player representative and Venus Williams' agent, are requesting an increase in the amount of International events Top 10 players can play. At the moment, players who finished the previous season in the Top 10 can play only one such event in each half of the season if they meet their required commitments to other tournaments. The board is looking at allowing two in each half of the season.
International events, which give $250,000 in prize money, are lower-level tournaments that usually give top players a fee for appearing at the event.
"It's something that's in the best interests of everyone," said Budge. "It gives the players the opportunity of playing more International tournaments over the first six months, which we all want and need."
The rule has led to occasions when players have not been able to enter tournaments because there were other top players in the field. Tournaments can take an extra Top 10 player, said Budge, but would pay a fine of up to $250,000.
The limitation means that International tournaments must entice Top 10 players to play their event instead of any other during that portion of the season.
"I'm not suggesting that we need to have more Top 10 players in our week, we're happy with our level, but we need the ability of getting a Top-10 player and making sure every year we can and we're not competing with a tournament like Monterrey three months after us," he said.
A change in the rule is said to be especially important for tournaments because of the scheduled addition of a grass-court International-level event in Nottingham, which would be attractive to top players as a warm-up to Wimbledon. A motion on the issue is being looked at by the board.