Rackets

Rackets Development 2020

20 Feb 2020

The latest developments from the T&RA.
Supporting Rackets in 2020.


Scope

This paper looks at three key areas:

  • how best to encourage 18-25 year olds to remain engaged in the sport
  • how to explore greater flexibility in the cost of playing the sport at the highest level
  • sets out some of the key changes announced by the RWCC

Related information

Andrew Stewart is leading a separate initiative to engage the Rackets playing schools during the next academic year, with a focus on the medium to longer term future of the game.

A number of top players shall play exhibition matches at 2-4 schools this season with more planned. The T&RA will cover the travel costs and other reasonable expenses.

18-25 year-olds

At present there are a number of initiatives already in progress:

  • The Scholarship (formerly Fellowship) scheme has been hugely successful, with over 70 fellows in the last 5 years. The winners of the Under 21 and under 24 singles over the last 10 years have all been past fellows. The scheme has also involved female players going to the US in each of the last two years. Despite the success, a number of important changes have been made: i) responsibility was moved from the pros to the School’s Alumni Representative (Ed Hyde) and ii) a deposit of £500 was due from each fellow subsequently re-claimed against tournament/racquet costs.
  • Subsidised Rackets Scheme at Queen’s (up to the age of 25). This has recently been simplified to ensure that applications can be processed more quickly. In the last two years the number of players joining through this scheme has more than tripled
  • Tournament entry fees continue to be heavily subsidised by the T&RA, at close to half the normal entry fee
  • Specific university schemes to cover the cost of Rackets have been put in place at both Manchester and Bristol
  • Three players in this age category (Ed Hyde, Lewis Symonds and Lea Van der Zwalmen) have joined (or been invited to join) the Rackets Committee, to ensure that the views of this group are being more effectively reflected in decision making
  • Communal racquets are provided at schools, such as Wellington and Winchester, for children coming in to play from local schools
  • A ladies’ club morning has been set-up and run at Queen’s (open to members and non-members) to support recent school and university leavers, it has been well attended

It is proposed to introduce the follow further initiatives:

  • to revamp/revitalise the alumni representatives for each school. This is largely complete with new reps for around half of the schools. The recent success of the Noel Bruce (with 54 pairs entering - thought to be the highest ever) is a sign of progress
  • Ed Hyde and Lewis Symonds have been asked to take responsibility for providing oversight to this age group and for ensuring the success of the U21 & U24 tournaments
  • the T&RA has funded a number of communal racquets which have been made available for this age group when playing at Queen’s. Under Ben Bomford’s guidance a fortnightly two-hour communal court for this age group is underway
  • Development Squads have been extremely hard to organise/co-ordinate while players are still at university, and in most cases playing several other sports. However, plans have been formulated to promote for both genders

Elite Players

A number of elite players have expressed concern about the cost of playing Rackets at the highest level. These have been discussed in detail. A number of changes to be implemented are outlined below:

  1. The Amateur Status Rules are under revision with proposed changes to include:
    1. allow players to attract third party sponsorship to cover their costs, subject to notification in advance to the T&RA, conducted on a trust basis
    2. allow players to receive financial help for tournament travel and entry costs, subject to disclosure in advance to the T&RA
    3. permit prize vouchers for amateurs for certain events
  2. A new Grays racquet will be awarded to the semi-finalists in each of the Open Doubles, Open Singles and finals of the Invitation Singles
  3. Changes will be made to the Referees’ Panel. Once a player has refereed four matches at the quarter-final or later stages in at least two of the Amateur Singles and Doubles, Open Singles and Doubles or Invitation Singles, they will only have to pay half the entry fee in the remaining tournaments in that season
  4. The Rackets Committee will include at least one member who is a highly ranked player, to represent the Elite players. The Rackets Committee should then have early visibility on issues facing the better players in the sport. Mike Bailey and Tom Billings have agreed to join the Rackets Committee in this capacity.

Other areas which have been considered (and remain under review) are (i) reducing the period over which the Open Singles and Doubles are played and (ii) combining the events. The Rackets Committee shall also engage with NARA to discuss the cost of tournament entries in North America, and explore the extent to which these may be reconsidered for individuals travelling from the UK.

Rackets World Championship Committee

The RWCC has reviewed the procedures and announced the following changes:

  • The number of effective qualifying tournaments has been capped – commencing for 2019-21 Singles QP (with the intention to reduce the associated costs for players)
  • Alternation of first/second leg venue & a revised format for the second leg
  • Greater clarity on the rules concerning injuries
  • A more streamlined doubles ranking system will be introduced for 2020/21

CSD/February 2020


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