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South America — fair or not — gets lost in the tennis shuffle

Matt Zemek

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Thomas B. Shea -- USA TODAY Sports

Is it right? No. Is it fair? No. Can it be explained relatively easily? Yes. No matter what you think or HOW you think, this much is clear: South America has been left behind in the larger workings of professional tennis, especially when viewed through the lens of all the new “Cups” in men’s tennis.

The Pique Cup went to Madrid for the first two years. The ATP Cup went to Australia. The ATP Finals are about to leave London… and go to Turin, Italy. The Laver Cup in 2020 — when a non-European site would host the event — will either go to Boston or Montreal, or another place close to New York. More details on that note below.

So many Cups, but the cup has run dry in South America.

Yes, Africa has also been left behind, but Africa has just one tour stop on the ATP and WTA (Marrakech and Rabat, respectively). South America has several stops on the ATP Tour and Bogota on the WTA Tour. The WTA has made it a point to put its year-end showcase, the WTA Finals, in Asia (Singapore and now Shenzhen). South America is left in the wilderness in terms of these special occasions.

It’s not fair… but we can at least acknowledge the difficulty of getting one of these “Cups” or year-end championships to South America.

The logistics are simply brutal. The main South American swing on tour comes in February, after the Australian Open and before Indian Wells. South America is in no position to host a year-end championship on either tour. The Laver Cup, being in late September, has obviously chosen to hold events close to the U.S. Open in the years when non-European sites host the three-day festival. It is much easier to get players to attend when the commute is so short from New York. Players can take a holiday in the United States for a week and a half between the U.S. Open and Laver Cup, then go to the nearby location without a lot of stress.

It is understandable why Boston or Montreal would follow Chicago as a natural choice, especially in an Olympic year when travel to and from Tokyo will take players halfway around the globe to begin with. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held from late July through early August, so the idea of a long flight to Santiago, Chile, or Asuncion, Paraguay, in late September would not have been too appealing.

The Olympics won’t be in South America in either 2024 or 2028, so if the Laver Cup is still alive in either of those years, the non-European site will very likely be in Canada (Ottawa would be a solid bet for 2024, I’d say) or the United States (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland).

It’s not right. It’s not fair. If South America is to have more of a place at the table, the tennis calendar would likely need to be revised. Leadership would have to step up.

If leadership is required to make something happen in tennis, don’t count on it happening.

#HUGS, South American tennis fans. You deserve better.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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