The Issue of funding Australian Tennis Professionals seems to have gone quiet lately, pity, it was a topic that I believe should have got more air play and for a longer period of time. Let's face it, the whole subject is a comedy routine.
Pat Rafter came up with a few ideas regarding the issue of financial support for players who didn't really need it and Pat was dead right in his assessment of it all.
As the former 'Head Of Performance' for Tennis Australia, Rafter made some tough decisions regarding who would and who wouldn't receive financial backing;
“At some stage a guy just can’t keep on getting funding and, with funding, you become a bit soft as well, if everything is paid for all of the time,” Rafter said.
“There’s gonna be a few guys next year who are gonna have a rude awakening.
“They can’t coast any more. So they’ve either got to give it a real crack or give the game away.
“So, yeah, we do play God a little bit, but I think that’s the way it’s got to be done.
“It is a bit dictatorial, however it’s done within a team environment and I believe in it.
“I might be way off the mark and I’ll know in a couple of years, probably three or four years. It might be a disaster when I’m done.
“But I think it’s our role to help a player get to the level that they can and then they’re sort of on their own.
“If we keep funding these top guys that can afford to fund themselves, that stops our ability to fund the lower ones.”
Of course Rafter stepped down from that position with Tennis Australia in February this year which mirrored his decision to step down as Davis Cup Captain in 2015, a shame, Pat tells it how it needs to be told.
A rumour was floated some time ago regarding Lleyton Hewitt and his full time practice partner, former Aussie Tennis Pro Peter Luczak. According to some sources Luczak was paid by Tennis Australia to travel with Hewitt and keep him sharply drilled. Would that be a surprise ?
A grass court was always laid out for Hewitt in a home Davis Cup tie in Australia which has now been changed finally to a hard court surface to suit the big hitting style of Kyrgios who excels on a neutral surface, as does Jordan Thompson for that matter. Hopefully grass court ties here in Australia are gone for good, a thing of the past, like black and white television.
TA seemed to do whatever Hewitt wished and I would say most definitely that Peter Luczak was paid to be Hewitt's practice partner in 2013. Who's pocket did the expenses for Luczak come out of ? Well I have my theories but as per usual it's one of those 'hush, hush' topics that will never really be discussed in length but if a millionaire several times over doesn't pay out of their own pocket for a travelling ball hitter, well that shows lack of morality.
Apparently last year alone TA spent over 15 Million dollars on funding over 100 pro tennis players from the land of Oz. I find that figure laughable. Surely that amount of money could have been significantly reduced if the 'already millionaires' were dropped from the list, or don't TA discriminate ? According to Pat Rafter TA do need to do just that, discriminate.
Bernard Tomic apparently has had over 4 million dollars invested in him. If you ask Bernie he will tell you that it has been spent wisely just as he suggested in an interview last season. Bernie believes that he has 'returned' on TA's investment. Not quite sure how he can justify that statement, he's won 3 ATP titles sure, but he hasn't made it past the fourth round of a Slam since 2011 where he made it to the last 8 at Wimbledon as an 18 year old.
I don't mind Bernie but there is no way he has 'returned' on a 4 million dollar investment, no way in the World. He may prove a lot of his current critics wrong but his current form suggests he is more of a 'Tourist' than tennis pro as he jet sets around the World losing early in most events and not repaying TA by removing himself from the Davis Cup.
Interesting subject is BT.
There is no doubt in my mind that Pat Rafter is absolutely 100 per cent correct in his assessment that too many tennis pros are being thrown money when it is either not required or as harsh as it sounds, not deserved.
Just as my last post on this site suggests, let's see a pay back system from these players who have received monumental amounts of cash to fund their quest for stardom who live in million dollar apartments who never really seem to care about who got them there in the first place.
As soon as a player hits half a mil in prize money let's see some funds deposited back into the sport in Australia to help fund the next generation of tennis professionals, pretty simple really........