Sunday, October 12, 2014

WTA to launch Tournament of Losers

The WTA announced today that, in the near future, the first annual Tournament of Losers will be added to the tour's calendar. The event, which the WTA's chairwoman, Stacy Allaster, says will be held "somewhere in China," will feature players who make it to finals of tournaments but do not win them. There will be eight spots to fill in the round-robin tournament.

"We are excited about this innovation," Allaster said in making the announcement. "As the world leader in women's sports, the WTA wants to make certain that our most promising losers are given an opportunity to show their talents on an international stage."

"Of course," she added, "someone will win the tournament, but the runner-up will get an automatic wild card entry into the next year's Tournament of Losers."

Allaster said that a Tournament of Losers is needed because "fans want it."

The WTA has a colorful history of losers who went on to have interesting careers. "There is no greater inspiration," Allaster said, "than Francesca Schiavone, who lost nine finals before finally winning one, and she went on to win the French Open!" She added that the runner-up in that event was Samantha Stosur, who lost five finals before finally winning a tournament. Stosur, however--while she has six titles, including one at the U.S. Open--has lost an additional nine finals since winning her first one.

Wild cards will be awarded in the event that fewer than eight players without titles lose finals. Title-less players who lose multiple semifinals will be considered, as well as players who--despite having titles--continue to lose finals. According to Allaster, the wild card selection will also allow for the inclusion of a "Sloane Stephens-type situation."

As an added attraction, fans will vote for their choices to compete in an invitational tournament of Rising Headcases, to be held during the Tournament of Losers. Four young players who tend to go to pieces when they play big matches will be selected by tennis fans all over the world.


Mark Nixon said...

This is simply mean-spirited, like snarky book and restaurant reviews. Pointless.

Todd.Spiker said...

(Big grin.)

Wish I'd written that, Diane!

(The post, of course, not the previous comment.)

Diane said...

I'm surprised you didn't! Glad you enjoyed it :)

Eric said...

LOL Diane. Not pulling any punches today. :)

I'm mixed on the YE TOC. I have never understood the naming...and like you wrote in your post, it could easily be called the Tournament of Losers or Tournament of 2nd Best.

At first I thought, oh it's a great idea to have a tournament for players ranked #9-16...but the tournament isn't really for those players. (And if it was, why don't they just have one tournament for the top 16 players?) They're trying to highlight less prominent, yet highly talented, players or players from underrepresented regions.

(Which brings up the whole issue of meritocracy...and how if you don't invite the best players to a tournament, is it really worth anything? ANd it can't be an exhibition bc players won't take it seriously...)

However, on the principle of raising awareness for the game of tennis and helping fans learn more about other players, I think it's a good idea. The big problem for women's sports (or even sports in general...I'm thinking about less prominent sports like swimming or curling)... is the notion that there aren't athletes worth watching. There's only a few who have the skill/personality/belief to withstand the pressure of scrutiny. But that's changing, especially in women's tennis. So, it's good to highlight those who aren't the top 3.

If you think of any other sport, golf/NBA/NFL/NHL/baseball/ATP, the average fan has an awareness of at least 10-20 players if not more. I don't think it's bad to build name recognition for more players in the WTA. (And in a way, putting players in high pressure situations is also training for them.) And it's kind of cool that they do things like fan votes...something different.

The tour is definitely in a weird predicament when it comes to the TOC...I wish they would name it something different... But all in all, I think it's a positive thing.

In my dream scenario, they would do away with the Fed Cup and have a team event (like high school dual meets...not limited to country). If they're going to make a different type of event, it needs to be more different.

Eric said...

I just realized I may have just proposed the IPTL...LOL.

Diane said...

I'm not an especially nation-identified person, but I love Fed Cup! Plus, playing for one's country is generally a very high motivating factor.

As for the TOC, I've never liked it, nor do I like the new version that's coming up next year. Give me the top 8, and then end the season.

sunny nine said...

Hilarious, Diane. Yes the new WTA Elite Trophy tourney coming out next year is even more ridiculous. And have you noticed that the names of these tourneys sound more impressive than the WTA Tour Finals which have the best of the best 8. Come on, Tournament of Champions and next year WTA Elite Trophy. Elite???? I thought the elite were the top 8 in the Tour Finals.
The top 8 should be recognized and should be the only ones recognized. Taking nothing from Eric, showing the best players should improve the outlook of women's tennis than showing then players that didn't quite make it.
Also the final 8 is close to a Major as it is like playing from the quarterfinals on-you know, the last 8.
Just don't get it but they why should I, it is the WTA.

Diane said...

I think this all probably has more to do with financial support than anything. I mean, no one could possibly think it's a good idea, right?

Eric said...


I think the WTA mgmt definitely thinks it's a good idea...

I definitely agree with you guys, too...I am just trying to look at it from their perspective...perhaps I'm giving them more credit than they deserve. Heh.

The YEC should be the last singles event of the year celebrating the excellence of the year's top 8 players.

I think the reason I dislike Fed Cup is because of the ITF... I just don't understand the purpose of the ITF. I'm sure they play some huge, important behind the scenes role (and anti-doping/anti-betting)...but to me, they're meddlesome, power-hungry, and rigid.

These are the changes I would make to Fed Cup:
- have a week-long Fed Cup event at the end of the year...instead of various rounds throughout the year.
- I would make doubles the middle event (like Davis Cup) often the doubles rubber is dead...
- I would do away with world group and world group II...i never understood this format...and the delayed nature of advancing from playoff zones to world group...blah. Participation would just be based off of the combination of the top two player's ranking in each country (like how they determine the ranking of a doubles team in a major)
- 16 countries can participate. 4 groups of 4 round robin with the winner of each group going on to the semi-finals.

Sorry, this comment was all over the place.

- Eric

Eric said...

You've probably read this already...

Diane said...

Yes, and it makes me cringe even more that Allaster and the WTA still refer to her (Allaster) as a man. Though Tarpichev's comment is overtly offensive, I see them both as symptomatic of the same problem.

Sabey said...

Really Diane? The fact that Allister is reffered to as chairman is more cringe worthy than the Williams sisters being called men and denigrated on national tv by the head of Russian tennis? I am very surprised.

Diane said...

Oh, no. I worded that all awkwardly, Sabey. What I meant was that it makes me cringe even more than usual about Allaster when I see her name in this context. What Tarpichev said didn't make me cringe; it actually made me kind of sick, though you'd think I'd be used to it by now.

I do think it's an irony because I believe it all comes from the same place--a refusal to acknowledge a woman as strong or as a leader. If she's strong and capable (or perceived as such) and a leader in any way, she apparently has to be a man.

Female athletes can't win. They're considered "less than" male athletes. But--if they happen to be strong and especially athletic, then they're not even women.

Sabey said...

Thanks Diane for your very thoughtful (as always) response. The femininity/Strength issue is a problem for female athletes but also all females. If being feminine is associated with weakness then strength is masculine. It's just too bad that the head of a major tennis federation would see it this way.
I think maybe that the "Strong is beautiful" campaign was trying to address this attitude (but somehow managed to objectify the players even further)