Bridging the gap at the new WTA 125 Tournaments

By David Kane

For a tour that rose to its peak in the late 90s on the talented backs of young players like Martina Hingis and Venus Williams, the WTA has had a difficult time grooming its young ingénues in the last few years. The age eligibility rule named for famed burnout victim Jennifer Capriati has done well to keep players from the depression and drug use she suffered, but has also seemed to curb the number of prodigies making early breakthroughs on the senior tour.

With Maria Sharapova being the last teenager to win a major title and compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova the last teenaged Slam debutante in 2004, the Tour’s biggest tournaments appear to be checking for ID at the door. That does not mean, however, that the WTA is averse to successful teens. The Tournament of Champions, albeit a Year-End Championships with the volume turned all the way down, was founded as a way to reward top 30 players who take home International (formerly Tier III and IV) titles throughout the year.

But if veterans have been dominating the higher-end events in the last decade, they have been equally successful in the ostensibly more accessible ones as well. The average age for the Sofia semifinalists 26.5, with 30-year-old Nadia Petrova taking the title. It has been a good time to be a fan of sentimental favorites, to be sure, but much tougher to pick out up-and-comers as they make the transition from the juniors.

Enter the WTA125, the ultimate tournament category for the “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” subset of players. Bridging the gap between the ITF 100Ks and the lowest level International WTA events, the WTA125 debuted in the two weeks following the two Year-End Championships. With most of the big names finished for the season, players who would have dropped down to the lower level ITFs have one last chance to rack up big points and prize money in 2012.

Two players to take advantage of the opportunity were those thought to be extinct prodigies, Kristina Mladenovic and Elina Svitolina. Each have a junior Roland Garros title to their name (Mladenovic in 2009, Svitolina in 2010). The two are feisty competitors with big forehands and bigger personalities. Despite success among their peers, competing in the big leagues has been a more challenging endeavor.

After relatively quiet fall seasons, the two entered the WTA125 events, one in Chinese Taipei and the other in Pune, India, as under the radar as any former junior champion. Proven up-and-comers like Donna Vekic and dangerous veterans like Kimiko Date-Krumm were abound in each event, yet Mladenovic and Svitolina took home the titles with as little fanfare at the end of the week as the beginning.

At the first WTA125 event in Taipei, Mladenovic blew away Chang Kai-Chen, the Taiwanese player who was edged out of the Osaka final by Heather Watson a few weeks earlier. The Frenchwoman was equally dominant in the doubles, completing the sweep and undoubtedly sealing her spot as an answer on a WTA trivia question.

Andrea Petkovic in Pune, India

The tournament in Pune started out as another chapter of the beleaguered Andrea Petkovic’s comeback tour. The German had spent most of 2012 sidelined with various and sundry injuries before having a good run in Luxembourg and cruising into the semifinals this week. The run, however, came to an abrupt end against none other than Svitolina, who advanced to the biggest final of her career.

Even in the final, Svitolina read like the supporting act when paired with the illustrious veteran, 42-year-old final Kimiko Date-Krumm. Despite a tough year, the Japaneswoman had been solid all week, and was looking for the second title in her “second” career. Playing against a style that she was hardly old enough to watch on television, Svitolina had no letdown and gamely silenced the veteran in straight sets.

Is this an awful lot of fanfare for two events that barely count as WTA titles? Perhaps. But if this trend continues, the WTA may have finally found a formula to allow up-and-comers to smoothly transition onto the senior tour without sacrificing the abundant confidence they took with them from the juniors. In other words, the WTA125’s potential lies in helping the prodigies, young guns, whatever you want to call them, to begin realizing their potential, and if that succeeds, these podunk post-season tournaments could become the real tournaments of champions.

11 Responses to Bridging the gap at the new WTA 125 Tournaments

  • Pingback: Andrea Petkovic: The True Tragic Heroine in Tennis — TennisGrandstand

  • I simply couldn’t leave your website prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed
    the standard info an individual provide for your guests?
    Is going to be again incessantly to inspect new posts

  • Pingback: Andrea Petkovic: The True Tragic Heroine in Tennis | #backhandcompliments.

  • I simply want to mention I am just newbie to blogging and definitely savored this blog site. Most likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You really have beneficial writings. Many thanks for revealing your web page.

  • Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

  • Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

  • news says:

    I believe this internet site has some real fantastic information for everyone. “In this world second thoughts, it seems, are best.” by Euripides.

  • Whats up are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • setinbox says:

    Transmitir cultura es uno de las apuestas que Signo Editores se puso como meta cuando se fundó la empresa. A lo largo de los años, y con varias décadas vendiendo libros de máxima calidad, la compañía se ha convertido en un referente nacional, con delegaciones repartidas por toda España

  • To indicate significance regarding the jewellery for the individual, you have to indicate that you happen to be focusing on the:link, style and design. Tend not to acquire overpriced and lavish articles for women which desire a alot more nominal take a look. Find hassle-free variations which are both traditional and stylish. A wonderful set of two pellet or perhaps engagement stud earrings would probably enjoyment a lot more careful flavors. Individuals who vivid everyone will in all probability try impish types that can come during the much more bold colors and sizes. Major basket earring is often very flexible yet exciting. Bedroom and teens normally recognize presents of jewellery, overly. Search for sections that happen to be measured tinier and are usually suitable for much younger flavors in addition to

  • Clear-Cut Advice For Intrauterine Insemination – Where To Go at::

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>