ITF announces changes to World Tennis Tour
LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced a major change to "optimise" the structure of lower-rung professional tournaments, six months after launching the World Tennis Tour.
The change will mean ATP and WTA ranking points will once again be available to players competing in ITF $15,000 events -- the entry level for professional players.
Additional ranking points will be available at men's $25,000 tournaments while qualifying draws will be increased.
From August, ranking lists will be updated to reward players who were not allocated ATP and WTA points in ITF-level tournaments played in the past 12 months.
One major criticism of the World Tennis Tour was that there were separate rankings lists and fewer playing opportunities, leading to a petition signed by around 15,000 people.
There will now be one ranking system for men's and women's professional tennis, meaning a smoother transition for players moving up through the system, the ITF said.
"Collaborating further with the ATP and WTA, our goal is to ensure the professional pathway from juniors to professional tennis is fit for purpose," ITF president David Haggerty said.
"These additional reforms to the pathway will further strengthen the new structure introduced in 2019, that in turn will create a true professional group of players, increase playing opportunities at all levels of the game, and help widen the number of nations hosting professional tournaments so that tennis can remain a truly global sport."
Steve Simon, WTA CEO and Chairman added: "The WTA is pleased to work with the ITF in the shared goal of developing a clear structure and pathway to provide for the competitive opportunities and rewards needed for a player to transition through the ITF World Tennis Tour in their quest to compete on the WTA Tour." (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)