LONDON (AP) — The number of players competing in professional tennis events will reduce drastically following a major structural shake-up aimed at helping more competitors earn a living and improving the pathway from junior level to the top of the sport.
The International Tennis Federation undertook a three-year review of the professional and junior game, which established that there are too many players trying to compete on the professional circuit, too few players breaking even and that the age of these players is increasing.
In a move that could see the number of players competing professionally decrease from 14,000 to 1,500, the ITF has approved the introduction in 2019 of a Transition Tour that features localized entry-level events to "better aid the transition from junior to professional tennis."
The ITF said the new structure "will introduce a clearer and more effective professional pathway and ensure that prize money levels at ITF Pro Circuit events are better targeted to ensure that more players can make a living from the professional game."
The ITF is recommending that there is a professional player pool "of no more than 750 men and 750 women."
The governing body says that of a total of about 14,000 players currently competing in professional tennis events, almost half do not earn any prize money. This raises the potential for corruption in low-level events.
ITF President David Haggerty said this was "the most comprehensive review of professional tennis ever undertaken and has highlighted the considerable challenges at the base of our game."
"Radical changes are needed to address the issues of transition between the junior and professional game, playing affordability and tournament cost," Haggerty said.