There are many who think that the life of a tennis player revolves around five-star hotels, great luxury, travelling with big teams and, all in all, living an absolutely fabulous life.
The reality, however, is quite different.
There are a few who do live the type of life that is mentioned above, and can also enjoy the best facilities, but they are the minority.
For the vast majority of players, professional tennis is a constant struggle, not to scrape a living, but only to make it “in the green” at the end of each tournament.
Last year, Irish player James McGee talked about the subject in a long article on his website, which opened many eyes, but did not make it to the concerned authorities or, if it did, it was without any significant impact.
This week, it was the turn of Tomás Buchhass, a 22-year-old player from Argentina, who was taking part in the Futures tournament of Temuco, Chile, and had a lot to complain about regarding the state of the courts, and the general conditions in which someone playing on the Futures tour tries to live day in and day out.
On his personal Facebook, Buchhass wrote a long letter from the heart to the ITF, the governing body in charge of the Futures, which, at his request, we have translated from Spanish:
“I am addressing the ITF to notify them and express my displeasure as a tennis player for having to take part in a tournament which is played in the conditions in which the Futures of Temuco, Chile, is played: courts in a pitiful state which are a hazard to the physical well-being of the players, without a restaurant in which to eat; on Saturday, during the first round of qualifications, a ball was lost and there was no replacement; there were matches scheduled on three courts but one had to be discarded due to the disastrous quality of the court, and the matches were put on another court, with the lines hand painted with a line of chalk, which is to say it was impossible for them to be straight or with the correct measurements.
I’m taking advantage of this message to express my disgust and displeasure with what is being done with the Futures and the ITF. In this tournament, we had to pay 40 USD only to enter the qualifications. It is, to be honest, a rip-off, a real joke. But thus are the majority of the Futures. They are not played in adequate conditions, don’t have enough balls to practice with, lack doctors/physios.
To tell the truth, as someone who loves this game, one feels very frustrated because an immense effort is made, not only on my part (player), but also on the part of a whole family who expects the most basic things in order to play in conditions which are acceptable for the sport and I have never seen the ITF take any action whatsoever in the matter, checking and monitoring or with any intention to improve the tournaments.
The prize money remains of 10,000 USD, which doesn’t even cover the costs of playing the tournaments, let alone making money if someone wishes to do things the proper way and travel with a coach. Even winning the tournament doesn’t cover the costs of playing it.
As players, we are constantly deceived, one way or the other. This is the beginning of the road in order to become someone in tennis and it’s completely deteriorated!
I feel completely neglected by the ITF. There is no support, we pay for the IPIN, we get fines for late withdrawals, we go by he rules and we don’t even get anything decent out of it. The umpires make more money than the players that we are, no one covers our expenses.
Personally, it angers me a lot and it seems like a joke that when we play Futures, we have to fill a form asking us how we think the tournaments can be better managed or in which aspects it can be improved.
In my opinion, they should support the Futures more. Enough of Futures at 10,000 USD, it doesn’t lead anywhere. They distribute the money a little, but the tour is organised in a way that only a few get the money, whereas the others work and sacrifice themselves for nothing.
It’s unfair, cruel and little gratifying. Only 100 people in the whole world can make a living from this sport. Does it seem right to you? The rest of the field doesn’t receive anything, they increase the prize money of the majors, in which the players receive more and more, and we receive nothing!
Lastly, the topic of the wagers. The videos from the Tennis Integrity Unit really helped my parents a lot, they who don’t know how to play tennis. But for the majority of the players, I don’t think it brings anything. It’s a little contradictory that the ITF sends the message that they wish to go against betting, and all those things which stains our sport, and it makes me sick, as someone who loves the game, to hear that such things exist, that matches are fixed, but afterwards, I see that the ITF has a gambling house as a sponsor.
That’s where things don’t match. They wish to go against those things which stain the game, but they have “official gambling houses”.
Truth be told, it seems that they’re going the wrong way. They are putting the sport aside and it ends up being an association which only aims for profit.
I know that this message won’t change things, that the system will remain the same, that the Futures will remain at 10,000 USD, and that I will have to put up with these things but at least I fulfilled my part of the bargain.
As a player, I have always abided by the rules. I never received a fine for misconduct or anything, but around it all, there is a lot left to be desired.
I hope that whoever reads this message loves this game as much as I do, and that it reaches them in some way, that it won’t be a secretary seated behind a desk who will notify it as just another message and that everything will remain the same.
Please do more for those of us below.
We may only hope that more eyes will be opened to the harsh reality of the Futures Tour, and sooner rather than later. The ATP is already working to improve the prize money and conditions on the Challenger Tour. It would be high time for the ITF to do the same with regards to the Futures.