Pro Circuit Review
The ITF manages the initial stages of the players’ global pathway to professional tennis. In 2015 this includes:
1. Junior Tour for girls and boys aged 18U
2. Women’s Pro Circuit – six levels [10k, 15k, 25k, 50k, 75k and 100k].
3. Men’s Pro Circuit – two levels [10k and 15k].
As the first phase of a review of the players' global pathway, the ITF has been undertaking a detailed review of professional tennis below Tour level with the ultimate goals of:
• raising prize money and player earnings;
• raising event standards;
• maintaining and improving the performance pathway for developing nations.
The project is in three parts:
1. A detailed analysis of all available player data from 2001 to the present day, including every player ranked at any point during those years. This has been undertaken in partnership with Tennis Australia’s data science team.
2. A stakeholder survey conducted and analysed by Kingston University in London. The survey prompted over 8,000 respondents, including over 7,000 players from all levels of the professional game.
3. Joint working groups, comprising members from both ATP and WTA Tours, ITF and national association representatives to review the findings and proposed changes to the current model (below Tour level) based on three key objectives:
• How we can better reward players at lower levels of the professional tennis pyramid
• How we can continue to ensure tennis attracts new talent into the game from across the world and then retains it through the professional tennis pathway to the top 100 and beyond
• How we can continue to offer professional opportunities to players around the world, especially those from developing tennis nations
A detailed overview of the key findings from the data analysis can be accessed here.
The review established that:
• In 2013 there were 8874 male professional players [3896 of whom earned no prize money].
In 2013 there were 4862 female professional players [2212 of whom earned no prize money].
• In 2013 average costs for playing professional tennis [includes flights, accommodation, food, restringing, laundry, clothing, equipment and airport transfers but not including coaching costs] were $38,800 for male players and $40,180 for female players [this obviously changes depending on region and/or ranking].
• In 2013 total men’s prize money was approximately $162m. An even distribution would provide every male player that earned prize money with $32,638. In that year the top 1% of male players (top 50) won 60% ($97,448,106), which reduced the even distribution average down to $13,195.
• In 2013 total women’s prize money was approximately $120m. An even distribution would provide every female player that earned prize money with $45,205. In that year the top 1% of female players [top 26] won 51% ($60,585,592) of total prize money, which reduced the even distribution average down to $22,564.
• The break even point on the earnings list (i.e. the point where average costs met actual earnings) was 336 for men and 253 for women in 2013.
• In nominal terms total prize money in the men’s and women’s game has risen since 2001. This is due in the main to a significant increase in the number of competitive opportunities (tournaments) around the world and introduction of certain new tournament categories (W-$15k, $100k and $125k, M-$35k).
• This increase has been countered (in terms of earnings per player) by an increase in the number of players competing for the total prize money pool.
• While numbers of players entering the professional game has risen since 2001, the numbers moving from juniors to top 100 has remained constant.
• The time taken from earning the first ranking point to entering the top 100 from 2000 to 2013 is slowly increasing [3.7 years to 4.8 years for men / 3.4 years to 4.1 years for women].
• The number of nations hosting professional tennis events has not changed significantly since 2001.
• There are significantly more professional events for players to compete in, but that growth of events is being driven by Europe.
A stakeholder survey to ascertain the views of players, national associations, coaches and event organisers was sent to over 60,000 individuals. Over 8,000 responses were received and analysed by Kingston University in London.
The player survey results can be accessed here.
The non-player survey results can be found here.
In March 2015 the ITF Board of Directors approved an extensive programme of prize money increases for the ITF Pro Circuit. The phased introduction of increases commencing in 2016 sought to minimise the impact of prize money rises on tournament numbers and player opportunities worldwide while better rewarding players at the Pro Circuit level. Further details of these changes can be found here.
As the second phase of the broader Player Pathway Review, the ITF Board also called for a review of the ITF Juniors Circuit and the transition journey from Juniors to the Pro Circuit. This was undertaken in 2016, the details and results of which can be found here.