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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday March 16, 2020


Kristie Ahn, a member of the eight-person WTA Player Council, spoke with Tennis Channel’s Tracy Austin and Steve Weissman last week about some of the difficulties facing the players as they try to navigate a growing number of tournament cancellations that threaten their livelihood and wreak havoc on travel plans during uncertain times.

Tennis Express

Ahn says that she and her fellow council members are focused on communication first and foremost.

“The player’s council has been incredibly active,” she said. “All of us, we have a group chat going and everyday it’s blowing up. Everyone’s got ideas, everyone’s got concerns so we’re trying to address everything as best we can.”

There was some confusion last week when the WTA decided not to follow the ATP’s plan to go ahead with a six-week across the board cancellation and instead opted to take a more wait-and-see approach.

“With regard to everything that’s been happening it’s our job to make sure that not only are we communicating with the WTA, but also we are relaying to our players as quickly and efficiently as possible the news before it goes out to social media and out to the public.”

Ahn explained the logic of her superiors, including WTA CEO Steve Simon, as the tour tried its best to involve tournaments and shareholders in decision-making in what was a trying and chaotic pivot point for the sport.


“It’s been crazy because it feels like every time we make a plan a new wrench gets thrown our way so we have to constantly be pivoting,” Ahn said. “Obviously players, once we found out about Indian Wells it wasn’t just about Indian Wells it was also about Miami, it was about Charleston, what happens to the season. You could definitely feel the panic and the anxiety from the players, so we try our best to get answers from the WTA, who also speak to the tournaments, but also being understanding that the tournaments are also put in a really tough situation; they lose a lot of money and they love hosting their events so we have to be sympathetic and well and give them the respect and time to decide what to do with their events.”

On Monday the WTA officially announced the cancellation of all play until May 2nd, effectively locking down a tour for a week longer than the current ATP shutdown calls for.

At the moment, not even that timeline seems safe, as Coronavirus grips the globe. Over 178,000 confirmed cases have been reported and over 7,000 people have died.

“They are put in a tough situation,” Ahn says of the tour and the tournaments. “I know Steve has been very respectful to tournaments. Sometimes it seems like more of a common sense answer but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. In the example of Charleston, Steve had to meet with the owner as well as the tournament director in order to finalize the decision. He sent an email to the players to go home to Europe and to make sure they make it home in time, but at the same time we can’t officially cancel Charleston yet because of the relationship we want to establish with the tournament owner and director.

"Everyone’s on high tension, there’s a lot of uneasiness, so I can totally understand about players lashing out it’s frustrating because sometimes you don’t get the answers you want, but the player’s council is definitely pushing the WTA to over communicate and keep the players as best informed as possible.”

 

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