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Australian tennis players have been a prominent fixture across the junior, futures, WTA, and ATP tours since the beginning of professional tennis. However, as a country geographically isolated from the rest of the tennis world, do our players have enough opportunities to hone their games to the highest level possible?

One of the main challenges when it comes to Aussies players finding opportunities at home is the amount and variety of events offered on home soil. The Australian Junior Tour and Australia Money Tournaments (AMTs) are the most popular home events that allow players to compete and progress to earning prize money. However, the main issue is the lack of international events on home soil. The following is a quick breakdown of the international events offered across Australia:

16 ITF World Tennis Tour Junior events

6 ITF Women’s World Tennis Tour events

4 ITF Men’s World Tennis Tour events

3 ATP Challenger events

6 Australian Pro Tour events

5 other ATP and WTA level professional events (during the summer)

This is quite a low selection of events and also limits the exposure that Aussie players get to players from other countries as the vast majority of players are all Australian. The amount of wildcards and opportunities gifted to Aussie players is also quite low. This means that in order to be able to get ranking points and prize money as well as get experience playing top players from around the world, Aussie players need to spend a fortune on plane tickets, tournament fees, hotels, and coaching not to mention personal expenses. The development of our local players is therefore limited to how much they can travel to Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

While players from these other continents have easier access when it comes to travel, coaching, and playing a variety of players, Aussies are stuck with the burden of cashing out large sums and having to compromise when it comes to their education and playing as much as they can at home.

But players in Europe, the Americas, and Asia have such a large advantage as they have hundreds of tournaments close by which allows them much more flexibility and opportunity on all of the competitive tours.

The necessity for having more international tournaments and events is evident as our players are at an unfair disadvantage.

This leads me to my next topic. The issue of scholarship and support by Tennis Australia and state and local organizations. We all know that tennis is one of the most expensive sports out there, and with limited tournaments and our geographical location on the tennis map players need to have a large sum of money to be able to chase their tennis dream.

Many players need parental and family support which if from a wealthy enough background can ensure a player can travel and compete internationally to have a more level playing field with their global peers. However, for middle and lower-class background players, money is a deciding factor in not being able to chase the tennis dream.

This leads many of our top players to alternate routes such as trying to save by playing AMTs or even going to college due to the lack of financial support. Tennis Australia and the state bodies have a variety of ways they try to support players but these methods tend to focus on only a couple of select players in separate age groups.

Scholarship money and financial aid as well as coaching support are therefore unfairly allocated to only these specific players isolating the others regardless of their level. By only allowing aid to a select few the rest are prone to fall through the cracks and due to lack of opportunity and support not be able to develop their talent further.

One solution is to allocate the money and coaching opportunities to a bigger group of players and instead of gifting everything to one or two players, have age groups of 15-20 players all receive equal support. This will not only benefit more players but also encourage them to push one another to become better as well as give them more opportunities to experience different games and personalities. This is what we see much more often in European and American associations. By giving everyone a small piece of the pie, we can help more players develop further and have the resources to be able to play professionally.

Furthermore, the necessity for more tournaments, opportunities, and resources for players is evident if we take a close look at the ITF, ATP, and WTA tours. Currently, 8 Aussie men rank in the ATP top 100 led by Alex De Minaur at #11, and only one Aussie woman, Daria Saville at #94. In the ITF juniors, 3 Aussie boys and 3 girls are in the top 100. With the hundreds of incredibly talented and hardworking tennis players we have, imagine how many could excel across the international tours if given better opportunities to do so.

For over a century, Australia has been a global centre for tennis with the Australian Open highlighting the beginning of the yearly tennis calendar. But if our local players lack access to international tournaments and resources they have to work much harder to be able to stand a chance against international competition. As a country with so much tennis talent, we need to do better in ensuring the future of our players.

We need to host more ITF, WTA, and ATP events along with more wildcards allocated to Aussies to allow our players opportunities at home without breaking the bank. We also need to work harder to allocate the financial and coaching aid we have to a diverse variety of players instead of a select few, to develop more players and make them work harder to become their very best.


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