For those who haven’t heard, the tennis world has been pretty ablaze (I mean hell, there’s nothing else going on) with the news originally shared by Stephanie Myles that Ana will not be receiving a wildcard into Montreal and instead will have to play the qualifying for the first time in… oh, probably forever.
Two particular articles have been focused on, the Tom Tebutt one, and the Stephanie Myles one (the actual newspaper article is a bit more trimmed down, but since the blog post carries more info, I’ll go with that one). Here’s what I think.
In case you don’t know, like both of the writers of the above articles, I’m a Canadian. I’m also quite the huge Ana fan.
Originally, I thought people were over reacting. This is my original reaction to about 90% of situations where tons of people rapidly freak out over a complicated issue. Hold your horses. Let’s think this through.
And so I did. And then I became angry. Ana is a grand slam champ, and a former number 1. She’s a household name, a great personality, and great for the tour and surely the tournament. And… hey, what the fuck?! She won the tournament in 2006!
But a day or two away from it, some more reading on the issue, and I’ve started to change my mind. Before we all freak out, let’s take some time to do away with a couple of things from the Tebutt article.
First off, he says this: “Sharapova, Venus, Clijsters, Jankovic and Safina are all scheduled to play in Cincinnati the week before the Rogers Cup. Considering the current attrition rate among players, there is no guarantee all of them will make it to Montreal. In that case, Ivanovic’s high-profile stature could become a prized asset for the tournament.” Um, no. 1) All four semifinalists of Cincy in 2009 played Toronto. One won it (Elena) and the Cincy champion, JJ, made the quarters in Toronto. 2) The only names missing from Montreal are Serena and Henin. Not exactly nobodys, sure, but it’s because of injury, and anyone attending the tournament knows that the best players in women’s tennis are going to be there. And it’s not like last years champ, Dementieva, or even another slam winner, Schiavone, are total unknowns.
In other words, tournaments like Stanford and San Diego need players who give name recognition. Montreal does not.
A history of wildcards in Canada does not fall on the side of Ana either. Only one wildcard has been given to a non-Canadian in the past four years; Kim last year. Kim got that because she hadn’t been playing, and thus didn’t even have a ranking when she got it. Understandable.
I think where people are getting confused with the actual organization of this tournament. The tournament is organized by Tennis Canada, and Tennis Canada has a very strong presence at the tournament. If you take a look at the Tennis Canada website, you’ll see its “mission is to lead the growth, promotion, and and showcasing of the sport of tennis in Canada…”
The point isn’t that the tournament is snubbing a former champion. Instead Tennis Canada will likely give Canadian Stephanie Dubois, a native of nearby Laval, Quebec. She has a total of $500k in career prize money, whereas Ana has over $7 million. She even reached the third round of the Montreal tournament in 2006 with, yes, a wildcard.
Ana, on the other hand, while being a former champion and big name, has clearly failed to keep her ranking up, nor chosen to play smaller tournaments.
(until this summer) to try and get it back up. Furthermore, she’s not likely to be an automatic centre court selection this year, unlike last year in Toronto where she played Rybarikova on centre court in the first round. Dubois, a hometown girl, could easily be slotted into an opening night match (remember, not everyone who goes to big tennis tournaments is a tennis nerd).
Hell, I’m not asking you to change your mind and agree with this decision. I’m pretty upset that Ana has gotten the snub too, and you can bet that the tournament isn’t thrilled to have to make such a decision. At the same time, this may be a blessing in disguise for Ana, who will have
to get some wins under her belt if she wants to enter the main draw, and you can bet she’ll get great treatment, and feel comfortable on centre court for the quallies.
So spaz all you want Ana KADs. I hear you. But realize where and how this decision came to be made, and that at the end of the day, Ana’s play is what has created this situation to begin with.