Mark Petchey joins The 2 Barry's Tennis Takeaway Podcast to discuss the ITF's changes
Barry Millns and Barry Cowan commentated together for Sky Sports for 17 years and are now fronting a brand new tennis podcast
Last Updated: 01/03/19 7:08pm
This week Mark Petchey joins The 2 Barry's Tennis Takeaway Podcast and says the ITF should rethink the changes that have been made to the structure of tennis, with players fearing for their future in the sport.
At the start of this season, more than 1,500 players lost their professional ranking, with the sport splitting into three tours: ATP, WTA and ITF World Tour.
The latter is run by the International Tennis Federation, which has found itself in the line of fire from players, coaches and others within the game who feel the changes are taking tennis in the wrong direction.
The ITF implemented its plan, with the aim of streamlining the professional game, targeting better prize money and reducing corruption.
But, in attempting to cut out those who are never going to a living from tennis, many players have found themselves struggling to get into tournaments.
The ITF insists it is listening and have announced an increase in qualifying draws for its events from 24 players to 32, but it has made it clear there is no going back.
Pundit and well-known broadcaster Petchey believes there needs to be a demarcation in the sport with the qualifying draws going back to a minimum of 48, adding players who want to play should be given an opportunity to do so.
Something as significant as this in professional tennis needs to be rolled out and needs to be largely floorless and I think we're all in the same agreement no matter which side you sit on it's been anything but floorless.
Mark Petchey on ITF changes
"I think we all owe it to the ATP and ITF to get around a table and do the right thing for tennis," said Petchey. "The report said you have got to have seven-day tournaments so it means if you're going to open up the qualifying draws to say 48, then players are going to have to play two matches in a day. I don't have a problem with that and at 18 I certainly would not have had a problem with that.
"I don't know any player in the world that has a problem playing matches so long as they can get into a draw even if it means playing two matches in a day to get through.
"My one wish is that qualifying draws go back to 48. The average of the ITF qualifying tournaments was 49, so let's go to 48 and give these players that want to play an opportunity to play and that's all we're really asking for."
Petchey also discusses the points system, admitting it is a "hornets nest" which requires addressing.
"The other side of the equation that needs to be looked at heavily between the ITF and the ATP is the points distribution, and that's a huge part of it. It is something that is a hornets nest and anyone that's been involved in tennis will look at the current two-tier ranking system and just be completely confused about it, which I still am after two months of it coming in," Petchey added.
"It's just very difficult to justify why we need that so you so you either have to have a clear boundary where you have no ATP, WTA points at ITF level so it's a bit like the PGA golf where you get 25 cards to go and play at PGA level, or you go back to giving ATP points at 15's and 25's and WTA's and you have a clear and concise way of getting in, but that is something between the ATP, WTA and ITF that needs to be quickly addressed.
"Something as significant as this in professional tennis needs to be rolled out and needs to be largely floorless and I think we're all in the same agreement no matter which side you sit on it's been anything but floorless."
Tennis broadcasters Barry Cowan and Barry Millns interview major figures in the sport, plus other high profile tennis fans! Click on the link below to listen to the latest episode.
Barry Cowan is also in Glasgow to discuss the changes with former British player Dan Kiernan as well as giving his own thoughts along with Millns.
The 2 Barry's Tennis Takeaway Podcast will be made widely available on different platforms and supported by a new website The2barrys.com where visitors can catch up with any feature interviews they might have missed or want to hear again. You can also follow them on Twitter @the2barrys