RFET responds to top women’s demands
Originally published on: 29/09/10 16:52
The Spanish national tennis federation RFET has increased its efforts to prevent the country’s top six female players from boycotting next year’s Fed Cup in protest at what they see as a growing neglect of the women’s game.
With the rebels receiving growing support for their actions from fellow players, an upcoming conference in Pamplona next month will now be devoted to women’s tennis, addressing issues such as training top players and bringing through young talent, according to RFET.
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Anabel Medina Garrigues, Arantxa Parra Santonja, Carla Suarez Navarro, Lourdes Dominguez Lino, and Nuria Llagostera Vives earlier this month wrote an open letter to the federation outlining the infrastructural deficiencies surrounding the sport in Spain.
“We are very worried about the lack of support from the RFET in many sporting, structural and global areas of women’s tennis both for the present and looking for the future. We want the RFET to acknowledge its errors and solve a large number of questions,” read the letter, highlighting in particular the lack of medical support and dwindling number of ITF events held in the country.
“Very much against our will,” the letter concluded, “we have been forced to take a unanimous decision to stop playing and forming part of the national team for the 2011 Fed Cup.”
RFET refuted the accusations, which according to the letter were originally made in 2009 and remain unresolved, pointing to an upcoming cash injection of €200,000 set aside for the women’s game.
But former Spanish stars Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez have thrown their support behind the rebels’ campaign.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Sanchez Vicario and Wimbledon champ Martinez released a joint statement to the media on Monday, attacking “the general apathy shown by the federation toward women’s tennis in recent years.” The statement reportedly has the backing of 51 fellow players both past and present.
“With regard to the letter we received, I would like to say that we are not, nor have we been nor do we want to be in any type of war,” said federation president Jose Luis Escanuela alongside a 13-point action plan for women’s tennis in Spain.
Escanuela also dismissed allegations that the Spanish Davis Cup squad, who have claimed four of the previous ten titles, were shown any favouritism over their female counterparts.
“In the Fed Cup, the women’s team benefits from the same logistical help as the men’s team, winner of last year’s Davis Cup,” he added, while also insisting the federation was open to dialogue with the players and receptive to suggestions for improvements.
“The federation’s commitment to women’s tennis is very big and our successes have always been achieved thanks to the team’s work and I don’t see any other explanation other than a possible error in communication, an error that has just been righted.”
However, in light of the growing unrest, RFET have now announced that the upcoming national conference will look to face the issue head-on. “It must be noted that the National Tennis Congress is focusing exclusively on women’s tennis for the first time,” a statement on the federation’s website read.
Spain narrowly avoided relegation from the World Group with victory in a relegation play-off against Poland earlier this year. The proposed boycott is scheduled to begin with their World Group II tie against Estonia in February.