MUMBAI (Reuters) – The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has said it is working on additional measures, including a new relief fund, to support lower-ranked professionals who have been left in the lurch due to coronavirus-led lockdowns.
The professional tennis season was halted in early March and will remain shut until at least July end due to travel restrictions that numerous countries have implemented to contain the spread of the virus.
Earlier this month, the ITF, ATP, WTA and the governing bodies of the four Grand Slams raised over $6 million to help about 800 lower-ranked players, who depend solely on tournament winnings earn a living.
The ITF World Tennis Tour consists of lower-rung tournaments and serves as a transition circuit between the junior and senior games, allowing more professionals to make money as well as improve their rankings to qualify for the men’s ATP Tour or the women’s WTA Tour.
The ITF said its new measures will include a relief fund to help tour players ranked between 501 and 700, and are not covered under other relief programmes. Further details will be announced following its board meeting on June 2.
“We are doing everything within our power to ensure that the talented players climbing the ITF pathway receive the support they need and continue their development during these uncertain times,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement late on Monday.
Eligibility for the previous program took into account a player’s ranking as well as previous prize money earnings, according to criteria agreed by all stakeholders.
Over the last few years, governing bodies have attempted to improve the pay and conditions for a deeper pool of international players but it has not proved enough.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)