Cassie Thomas: Meagre prize funds and restricted draws are leaving players potless
By CASSIE THOMAS – Squash Mad Columnist
The WSA Tour has been a popular talking point in the last few months but unfortunately not for the right reasons.
The main focus being the absence of a World Open in 2013. Now it would be unprofessional of me to comment on who or what is to blame without speaking to the appropriate parties.
The following column is merely observations for what it is like for the players on the Tour, particularly the lower-ranked girls who are desperately trying to make a living.
The WSA encapsulates all the players from the world number one to the players ranked at 229. They all pay their membership so they can play tournaments and achieve a world ranking. Unfortunately for some players at the moment it is very hard because of the lack of differing prize money events.
The upcoming calendar I look at with a heavy heart. In the first three months, excluding junior and challenger events, there are 11 tournaments. Now, to an outsider that might not look too bad, but nearly half of those are $5,000 events.
These $5,000 events are great for lower ranked players to get some ranking points but due to a lack of tournaments are becoming increasingly strong.
A good example of this is in the upcoming $5,000 events in January the top seeds are ranked 38, 39 and 41. Compare that to the two PSA $5,000 events in January, where the top seeds are ranked 75 and 82.
How can the Tour expect players to continually play tournaments and lose money every time?
People will say that you shouldn’t compare it to the PSA Tour but it just shows how hard it is for the women at the moment. I recently spoke to a player who is competing in the upcoming Australia Day Challenge, which is a $5,000 event. She said that even if she wins the tournament she will just break even once she has paid for flights, accommodation, food etc.
That is if she wins it, so for players losing in the earlier rounds they will be heavily out of pocket. How can the Tour expect players to continually play tournaments and lose money every time? It simply can’t continue and those players will eventually be lost to the game.
Another issue is the draw sizes. The three $50,000 events on the calendar are only 16 draws, so only really open to the top 24 or so ranked players once you have taken out the wildcard and local players. This is why you have players ranked inside the top 30 playing $15,000 events.
There is, of course, an argument that if you want to get into those events you have to improve as a player and improve your world ranking. This is true but not everyone can be ranked in the top 10 and at the moment they are not getting the opportunity to do that.
An example being that players who had wins against top 12 players in Hong Kong can’t even get in the qualifying draw of the upcoming Tournament of Champions event.
So where does the women’s game go from here? If you are a player trying to make it on the tour, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Hopefully, at the forthcoming AGM, some positive ideas and solutions can be implemented. Everyone needs to work together to try and get the women’s tour to where it should be.
And please, let there be a World Open in 2014!