The International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) board of directors has approved a programme of prize money increases for the governing body’s Pro Circuit series of entry-level professional tournaments.
The decision comes after a review of the ITF’s tennis structure and consultation with more than 8,000 stakeholders at all levels of the sport. The ITF will now oversee a phased introduction of increased prize money, commencing in 2016, in order to minimise the impact such changes will have on tournament numbers and player opportunities.
On the ITF Men’s Pro Circuit, tournaments previously worth $15,000 (€13,350) will be increased to $25,000 next year, while lower-level $10,000 events will feature prize money of $15,000 from 2017.
Elsewhere, on the ITF Women’s Pro Circuit, the $15,000 tournament category will be eliminated next year and replaced by $25,000 events. In 2017, prize money levels will increase from the current level of between $10,000 and $100,000 to a minimum of $15,000 and as much as $125,000.
The ITF also said it will ensure that all prize money categories are geographically spread, with a set number of job opportunities being made available each week. In addition, the body said that it may opt to introduce further increases in 2018 for both the men’s and women’s series. Details of these proposed increases will be revealed in due course.
ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti (pictured) said: “The ITF board of directors has taken an important step forward by increasing prize money levels at Circuit tournaments. Combined with a targeted approach to set weekly tournament numbers, these increases will have a considerable and positive effect on players at all levels of the game.
“At the same time, the ITF is committed to introducing changes in a phased manner, to minimise the impact on tournament numbers, especially in developing tennis nations, to ensure no nation or its talented players are priced out of professional tennis.”
The Pro Circuit aids the transition from junior tennis to the senior game. In 2014, the Circuit featured 1,231 tournaments across 80 nations. Over 13,300 players competed for a total of $18m in prize money.