Women’s tennis in Japan has traditionally been stronger than men’s, and Kimiko Date is a legend in the sport, having been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world during her playing days and winning the Coriolis Open since returning from retirement.바카라사이트
He created six $15,000 tournaments this year, the lowest tier of professional tournaments, and his reasons for doing so have implications for domestic tennis, so here’s an interview with local Japanese media.
Why did you create a $15,000 tournament at the lowest level?
There are several levels of professional tournaments governed by the Lawn Tennis Federation (lTF), and $15,000 is the lowest category. Naturally, it has the lowest prize pool and is for players who are aiming for the world stage to earn ranking points. It’s a path that every professional player goes through, and I first competed in my senior year of high school. At the time, it was a $10,000 tournament, and I won three events in Ibaraki, two in Saga, and one in Ehime. It’s called a serpentine tournament, and the top scorers from these events qualify for the Masters. I won the Kyoto Masters and got my first world ranking of #318.
I was very happy when I saw my name on the leaderboard. That’s why I still remember the number 318 to this day. This is the starting point of a professional tennis player. With this ranking in hand, I went to compete abroad.
For juniors and new professionals, $15,000 tournaments are a must in order to move up the rankings. But until last year, there were no women’s $15,000 tournaments in Japan, so they had to go overseas. This year, the Japan Women’s Tennis Top50 Club (JWT50), an organization composed of female tennis players who have been ranked in the top 50 in the world, created six tournaments.
It takes a lot of money to create a tournament, how did you raise it?
When we created the tournaments, we made it a rule to hold them for at least two consecutive weeks, preferably three, which meant we had to find sponsors for two or three tournaments. After researching when juniors would feel comfortable competing, we realized that before summer was a good time, and we wrestled with their calendars to find a venue. We ended up holding it in Sapporo, Hokkaido, for the third time in a row, and at first we were thinking of cities other than Sapporo.
I approached one city and it fell through (laughs), and the next day when I went to the event in Sapporo, I mentioned it. I told the event organizers my idea and they said, “Let’s do it!” So it was decided. I thought it would be difficult because Sapporo is a big city, but there were a lot of people who understood sports and entrepreneurial people who wanted to try something new, so I accepted right away.
Other than that, there must have been a lot of challenges in preparing for the tournament.
The other three tournaments were organized by Daito Guntak, which is also the sponsor of the junior tournament (AI SUGIYAMA CUP) organized by Ai Sugiyama. We had a hard time organizing these three tournaments. There are fewer hardcourts, it was difficult to secure venues, and scheduling was a challenge because the rules prevented us from holding them at the same time as the $25,000 event, which is one level up.
We ended up holding back-to-back events in April at the lTC Intu Tennis Center and Fukui Tennis Center in Osaka. Then, in June, the tournament will be held at the Yoshida Tennis Center in Chiba. The following week, there will be a $15,000 tournament at the Clean Tennis Plaza in Saitama, so it will be two weeks in a row for the players.”We have been in contact with the Clean Tennis Plaza and have agreed to hold the tournaments back-to-back. We will also use the same official balls. The tournament will be held thanks to the cooperation of many people.
Why are you holding two or three tournaments in a row?
The reason we insisted on holding back-to-back tournaments is so that juniors and young players can develop a sense of professionalism. It’s not uncommon for professional players to travel abroad and compete in tournaments for three or four weeks, and they need to get used to the court, the ball, and the environment. I want them to learn what they need to do as a professional athlete and make it a habit.
That’s why we designed the program so that it doesn’t end with one tournament. In order to hold a tournament, you need at least three courts and one practice court, which limits the number of people who can practice. This time around, there were plenty of practice courts available, although it varied depending on the venue. For example, Osaka had five practice courts at the beginning of the tournament, and Fukui had eight. In Fukui, the hard courts were renovated for the National Championships, so it was a good environment, and the association and officials were very understanding and supportive.
Players could use the practice courts for free, and they let us use used balls for free. In a $15,000 event, I don’t think it’s necessary to provide amenities, but I wanted to create a good environment for players to grow as players.
Why did you create a wildcard competition?
We also decided to have a wildcard competition. When an unranked player wants to play in a professional tournament, the order of ranking is WTA ranking, lTF ranking, national ranking, and lTF junior ranking. This means that even if a junior player wants to play, the chances of them being able to play are very low. So we decided to give wild cards to players who have won two wild card tournaments. It’s a great way to practice, and it’s a lot more confidence boosting to know that you’ve earned it rather than just getting a wildcard. The wildcard competition was only open to players under the age of 18 because we could set the rules however we wanted.
The wildcard competition was held on Wednesday and Thursday at the venue of the previous competition. For example, Chiba’s wildcard tournament will be held in Fukui, which means that players who lost in the preliminary round will be able to stay at the venue to practice and compete in the wildcard tournament. With the abundance of practice courts and the wild card tournament, it’s not just the end of the road for players who lose, but they can practice at the tournament and play many matches over the course of a few weeks to learn how to be a professional player. I hope the younger players understand this environment and take advantage of it.
What is your advice to junior players?
Keep them motivated and keep them playing.