SPORTSNET TENNIS: Bracing for no Rogers Cup, Tennis Canada cuts go deep

SPORTSNET TENNIS: Bracing for no Rogers Cup, Tennis Canada cuts go deep

MEDIA CREDITS: Graham Hughes/CP – Rogers Cup Montreal

The national governing body of tennis in this country is the latest sports organization to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Bracing for the expected decision by the ATP Tour that the summer season is cancelled, and already reeling from the announcement that the Coupe Rogers in Montreal won’t happen in August, sources told Sportsnet that Tennis Canada has had a series of layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts across the board for employees.

Sources said nearly 50 people had their jobs terminated on Monday, while another three dozen were laid off with intent to bring them back in the fall. The organization is now down to approximately 35 active staff members, who have accepted a reduction in salary.

The Rogers Cup and Coupe Rogers generates approximately 90 per cent of the revenue for Tennis Canada, and the absence of both tournaments on the calendar will be a devastating financial hit to the organization. Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey told Sportsnet Tuesday that the loss is expected to be around $17 million. It is believed that it will take three years, at a minimum, to recover from the losses of not holding the 2020 events in Toronto and Montreal.

“We had no choice. When you have these kinds of staggering losses, you have to act like a business and you have to make change,” Downey said. “We had to streamline our employee base. That’s unfortunately what we had to do.”

No facet of the business was immune to the cuts, from ticketing to coaching, not to mention marketing, fundraising, sales, media relations, facilities and operations.

“It’s so deep that every area of our place will be touched one way or another,” Downey said.

No division of the organization will suffer more from this year’s lack of revenue than tennis development. Tennis Canada has made it a priority to support young, up-and-coming players, and built a structure to pave the way for the next generation of stars.

That investment created national programs for juniors in Montreal, Toronto and more recently in British Columbia. The fruits of their labour have paid off. Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard were the first alumni of the program, and each have reached a Wimbledon final. Bianca Andreescu lifted the U.S. Open trophy last September, a product of the development system that received its funding from Rogers Cup monies.

On April 1, both the men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) jointly announced a continued suspension of their tours until July 13. Not long after, the Quebec government declared that no outdoor festivals, concerts or sporting events would be held in the province until September, leading organizers of Coupe Rogers in Montreal to postpone the women’s event until 2021. The ATP in June will make a determination on its outdoor hardcourt swing, with events scheduled in Atlanta, Washington DC, Toronto and Cincinnati in July and August.

Should the ATP even move forward with a modified version of a summer season, it is quite unlikely there would be an event in Toronto without spectators. While other sports have discussed broadcast-only options without fans in seats, the challenges are aplenty for that to happen in Canada. From a financial standpoint, ticket revenues drive the business of the tournament. From a logistical standpoint, the Canadian border remains closed – and should it open by July, the expectation is that a 14-day quarantine will remain for those entering the country, making it a non-starter for top players to come.

Another revenue generator for Tennis Canada had been its share of the pool agreement from global media rights fees. The governing body would get a chunk of television and streaming services money from other top-tier tennis events around the globe. With Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid cancelled, that revenue is another loss for the organization.

The women’s Coupe Rogers event in Montreal is now scheduled for August 6-15, 2021.

Tue, 21 Apr 2020 18:48:25 EDT


SPORTSNET TENNIS: Tennis tours, Grand Slams working on COVID-19 player relief fund

SPORTSNET TENNIS: Tennis tours, Grand Slams working on COVID-19 player relief fund

MEDIA CREDITS: – arthur-ashe

The men’s and women’s professional tennis tours say they will administer a player relief fund to help those in the sport dealing with the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ATP and WTA say they are in discussions with the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments but did not provide any specifics about how much money they are pooling or how it will be distributed.

They said they “look forward to finalizing and sharing the further details of a plan in due course.”

Pro tennis has been on hold since early March because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and no tournaments will be played before mid-July at the earliest.

The French Open postponed its start from May to September, and Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time in 75 years.

Tue, 21 Apr 2020 13:41:49 EDT


SPORTSNET TENNIS: Djokovic says he may reconsider his anti-vaccination stand

SPORTSNET TENNIS: Djokovic says he may reconsider his anti-vaccination stand

MEDIA CREDITS: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP – Novak-Djokovic-2

BELGRADE, Serbia — Novak Djokovic has reiterated he is against taking an anti-coronavirus vaccination if it becomes mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, but says he’s open to changing his mind.

The top-ranked Djokovic said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Tuesday, ”Personally I am opposed to the vaccination against COVID-19 in order to be able to travel.

“But if it becomes compulsory, I will have to make a decision whether to do it or not. This is my current feeling, and I don’t know if it will change, but it really influences my profession.”

A vaccine hasn’t been made yet, but some such as Amelie Mauresmo have said the world tennis tours shouldn’t restart until there is one.

Djokovic caused a stir in a live Facebook chat with fellow Serb players on Sunday when he said that if a vaccination was compulsory when the tours resume then he “wouldn’t want to be forced by someone” to take it.

In his statement on Tuesday, Djokovic said many tennis players and other athletes have asked him for his opinion on this situation.

“I have expressed my views because I have the right to and I also feel responsible to highlight certain essential topics that are concerning the tennis world,” he said.

Djokovic and his wife Jelena advocate natural healing and not vaccinations, and said that like the rest of the world, he was “a bit confused.”

“I am no expert, but I do want to have an option to choose what’s best for my body,” he said. “I am keeping an open mind, and I’ll continue to research this topic because it is important and it will affect all of us.”

Prominent Serbian epidemiologist Predrag Kon, a member of the state team fighting the spread of COVID-19, said Djokovic should not have made anti-vaccination statements because of his huge public influence in his native Balkan country.

Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for his 17th grand slam singles title, and the ATP suspended its tour in March because of the global virus outbreak.

Tue, 21 Apr 2020 09:33:33 EDT


Novak Djokovic Steps into his Leadership Role

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the apparent latest decision of Novak Djokovic.

The coronavirus global pandemic has paralyzed folks around the world, both within tennis and just generally in every sphere of life.

As a result, everyone everywhere simply has way too much time on their hands. This can be both a good and a bad thing; we’re all accustomed to living healthy and busy lives, but what do you do if and when there’s nothing you can do but stay home and, like, simply be?

Well that can bring out both the good and the bad in people. And this week, we’ll highlight one of each.

Let’s start with the good.

You read that right. Novak Djokovic, current best player in men’s tennis and president of the ATP Player Council, apparently wants to take his leadership role to heart and intends to take steps to ensure the financial well-being of all fellow pros.

Granted, this is a late-breaking story so it’s not like we know all the details involved; as time progresses, we will likely learn more and more.

But as we’re writing this column, we know that the great Djokovic enlisted the help of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to create a plan for a Player Relief Fund and, ultimately, the raising of hopefully no fewer than $4 million. In his letter, which you can read in full here, Djokovic mentions that the ATP Tour has already pledged $1 million to the fund to help specifically players ranked between No. 150 and No. 400. For his part, the Serb wants to raise money to help out players ranked from No. 250 to No. 700, the players that Djokovic calls “the grass roots of tennis and base of professional sport” and those with the smallest financial security of all.

How can we do this? Well, says Djokovic, it’s up to Top 100 singles players and Top 20 doubles players to step up and contribute to the fund based on a sliding scale—between $5,000 and $30,000 each depending on where players are ranked. If this happens, that adds another $1 million+ to the fund and Djokovic’s hope is for all Grand Slam events to then contribute $500,000 each. There’s also something that can be done with the World Tour Finals prize money, should that event even ever happen.

There are more details if you’d like to know them but those are the clear highlights. In the end, the Big 3 wants to give each of the players ranked between No. 250 and No. 700 the lump sum of $10,000.

Whether this happens or not remains to be seen but the fact that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have all backed the idea and lent their name to it speaks volumes. This is good news because there is a clear need for such an initiative since the 2020 season is increasingly looking like it will be shelved for the foreseeable future…if not forever. Tennis players, you might recall, don’t have guaranteed salaries of any kind and while the likes of Djokovic and company have plenty to eat, the same can’t be said for other, lower-ranked players.

We love this initiative for at least four different reasons. First, it targets directly those who need it most: $10,000 might not sound like much but consider that it’s more than half of the prize money No. 294-ranked Matthew Ebden has captured so far this year. In that sense, it’s extremely needed in this trying time; it’s fun to see folks and players participate in things like the “100 volleys” challenge, or whatever else, but ultimately these won’t help you pay your bills. Thirdly, this is a poignant example of folks coming together and trying to work toward a common goal and not looking to throw anyone under the bus. (We’re looking at you, Roland-Garros organizers.)

Finally, it’s coming from our favourite player ever so we’re bound to be all-in. Sometimes, that’s all there is to it.

Now, remember the beginning of this article? While he was putting into motion this would-be plan, Djokovic was also basically outing himself as a sorta-maybe-kinda-anti-vaxxer for the coronavirus?

Novak, what you even doing man wtf???? Smh.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

SPORTSNET TENNIS: Nadal, Murray confirmed to play in virtual Madrid Open

SPORTSNET TENNIS: Nadal, Murray confirmed to play in virtual Madrid Open

MEDIA CREDITS: – 21555753

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are among 12 players confirmed to play in the virtual Madrid Open tennis tournament this month.

David Goffin, John Isner, Karen Khachanov, Eugenie Bouchard, Kristina Mladenovic and Kiki Bertens will also participate from their homes in the April 27-30 online competition that is expected to be broadcast live on TV and social media channels.

Khachanov says "this initiative is interesting and it will bring back some competition in our sport. I’m looking forward to challenge my fellow players and show my skills to the tennis fans around the world."

There will be 150,000 euros ($164,000) distributed in prize money for each of the men’s and women’s events. The winners then decide how much they want to donate to tennis players who are having a hard time financially without any tournaments to play.

Another 50,000 euros ($55,000) will be donated to reduce the social impact of the pandemic.

Each draw is expected to have 16 players competing.

The Madrid Open was one of more than 30 professional tournaments cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It had been scheduled for May 1-10.

Mon, 13 Apr 2020 09:22:51 EDT