Aryan Goveas, ranked 832 in the world, is apprehensive about getting sponsor support in the coming months, and might also miss out narrowly on the tennis world body’s Player Relief Plan (PRP).
As uncertainty over training, tournaments and restart of the tours continue, lower-ranked tennis players across the world, including Indians, are finding it hard to plan or brace for the future.
Novak Djokovic, the world's top men's player and president of the ATP Player Council, was one of the first to acknowledge this looming crisis. He presented a proposition last month to fellow players for raising funds to help players ranked between 250 and 700 in singles. This bracket usually comprises juniors and upcoming players -- the future of tennis so to speak.
The governing body of the sport -- the International Tennis Federation (ITF) -- along with the ATP and WTA tours and the four Grand Slam organisers have now launched the Players Relief Plan (PRP) which aims to support the lower-ranked players. This week, a statement released by the ATP stated that the PRP “will target a total of approximately 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players collectively, in need of financial support.”
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Although the specifics are still being charted, it is clear that many upcoming players would still miss the cut. India’s Aryan Goveas for instance.
Goveas is ranked No. 832 in the world. He anticipates a reduction in tournaments owing to the financial crunch. He is also braced for the struggle for players such as him to obtain or renew sponsorship deals and fears things would be so bad that it may lead to players quitting the game altogether.
“I don’t even know how many players are going to play once the Covid ends because financially it is going to be very difficult because we’ve not had any earning for the last two and half months.” the 21-year-old told The Times of India.
"I don't know how many of the sponsors are going to back their players. Also, it's going to be very difficult for coaches to keep their players motivated to get back out there and keep pushing them to keep playing on the pro tour because the number of tournaments is definitely going to reduce,” he added.
"Maybe Asia is going to not have that many tournaments as they used to have. China was like, for Asian players, especially for Indians, the main place to collect all your points. I think it's not going to be the same after they start," explained.
Goveas receives partial funding as part of a three-year contract with GoSports Foundation. He maybe slightly better off than many others. Niki Poonacha, ranked 823, for instance, is still seeking funding. He trains at Rohan Bopanna’s academy in Bengaluru.
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"As of now I have no travel sponsorship. Rohan [Bopanna] is trying to help me out with that, but since this lockdown happened, I'm not sure how things are going to turn out," said Poonacha.
"I usually travel in Asia so I'm not sure what's going to happen tournaments-wise after they lift the ban. Travelling to Europe or any other country is like double the expense compared to travelling inside Asia. So that's a big concern for me.”
Goveas and Poonacha also explained the fresh set of ‘Return to Tennis’ guidelines that has been issued by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). It only permits singles competitions post the lifting of government restrictions. That would have an adverse impact on the doubles specialists.
To help the upcoming players sustain themselves by maintaining tournament exposure, the All India Tennis Association (AITA) recently announced its plan to launch a domestic circuit, which is scheduled to begin from July subject to travel restrictions. "We want to start a domestic circuit running for four or five months so that we can get the players back to some physical activity, some tournament play and at the same time, try and give them some prize money,'' said AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee.
Sania Donates Award Money to CM’s Relief Fund
Sania Mirza became the first Indian to win the Fed Cup Heart Award for her successful return to the court post motherhood on Monday. Sania won the award for Asia/Oceania zone after securing 10,000 plus votes out of the total 16,985 cast for this year’s three regional Group I nominees.
The Fed Cup Heart Award is an ITF initiative that was established in 2009 to recognise those Fed Cup players who represent their countries with distinction, show exceptional courage on court and demonstrate outstanding commitment to the ideals of the competition. The winner was decided through online voting by fans which lasted for a week starting from May 1. More than 60 percent of votes went in Sania’s favour.
“It’s an honour to win the Fed Cup Heart Award as the first Indian. I dedicate this award to the entire country and to all my fans and thank everyone for voting for me. I hope to bring more laurels to the country in the future,” she said in a statement issued by the All India Tennis Association (AITA).
Sania made her return to the Fed Cup after four long years and helped India qualify for the play-off for the first time.
Each winner received $ 2,000 as prize money and the 33-year old three-time Grand Slam winner donated her prize money to the Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund set up for the fight against Covid-19 pandemic
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