This is an important novelty for everyone in tennis. The ATP, the governing body of the men’s professional circuit, has announced the creation, in 2024, of financial insurance for the world’s top 250 players. This will guarantee them a minimum annual income, income in the event of a long injury, as well as an advance for new entrants in the Top 125. Today 318th in the world, Lucas Poullain (27) is almost at the end of the tunnel. . to finally be able to make a living from his sport. Interview.

Knowing a few elected officials who make a good living from this sport, what prompted you to make tennis your profession?

I was rocked by tennis in my family. My father was a good player, as was my older brother. They were so passionate about this sport that I trained alongside them. At 4 years old, I hit my first ball. After that, my progress was steady. But the desire to make it my job came quite late, around 18, when I was starting to get good results. There are two moments that pushed me to take the plunge. I played in the France team during the University Olympics. It’s an incredible memory. You are on the field and you play for your country… I was able to win a bronze medal in full stadiums. It was my first click. The second is in the United States, during my university studies, when we played in stadiums with 3,000 spectators.

What was your journey to arrive today at this 318th place in the world. What were the key moments?

I started quite late compared to many players because I opted for a university education in the United States. Until I was 23, I still wasn’t a pro. Back in France, for a year, I devoted myself solely to tennis. As it was going rather well, I rose quite quickly in the ATP rankings. But now, a knee injury stopped my development.

What impact did this injury have on the rest of your career?

For a year, it was a hassle. I had surgery in the summer of 2021, I only played in the summer of 2022 and I was not playing tournaments, so I had no income. It was frustrating, I was making good progress in the standings; in just one year, I had gone from 1,000th ATP place to 400th, and there, suddenly, nothing because of this injury.

Despite the financial challenge that awaits you, you have persevered. How did you find the motivation to keep fighting?

To get to 318th place, I struggled. First, it is important to explain that there are three types of circuits. The highest is ATP. It’s really the top, the players live easily, they have no financial problem. Below is the Challenger circuit. It really is war. Active players fight to live from their passion and their goal is to reach the ATP Tour and have the chance to play Grand Slams. This circuit allows you to live from your passion, but you always have to think about your retraining after your career. Then come the Future tournaments…

So Future tournaments are the last wheel of the carriage?

The tournaments of the Future (he blows)… there, it’s survival. You have to travel to participate in tournaments where travel, food, hotel, ropes… are your responsibility. The worst is the gains: they are derisory. The pressure is huge when you’re in the Future, which was my case for a long time: if you don’t make at least the semi-final, you lose money over the week. I especially remember a summer when I made three tournaments in Tunisia and, for once, I was eliminated very quickly. I returned home having lost 700 euros. These are times when we think a lot and especially when the pressure on the pitch is enormous.

Currently in 318th place, you are close to the Top 250. What do you think of this possibility of accessing this financial insurance that will be put in place?

It’s a good surprise. We know very well that, in the world of tennis, apart from Top players, it’s complicated to live from your sport. This decision by the ATP is good, I salute it. Afterwards, it’s also complicated to tell yourself that it’s a lot of money that is only reserved for the 250 best players in the world. The message sent is that beyond this classification, the others are not considered professionals. We always come back to say that it is an elitist world. I would have liked this announcement to be extended to the 500th place ATP, they are the ones who need it the most. Personally, I’m not obsessed with it, it will happen, I know it will, because I know my potential. I want to live from my passion, but above all I don’t want to lose my love for this sport.

This financial insurance will provide Top 250 players with a minimum annual income. What could be its impact?

This will allow to see better matches on the courts. Players will be motivated and relieved of a huge burden. We will work more calmly and one thing that should not be forgotten: we will hear fewer scandals linked to match-fixing, which plague the Future and Challenger circuits.

Could initiatives like Baseline (name of program) help improve equity?

The ATP circuit is regularly criticized for its lack of fairness between the best, whose earnings are pharaonic, and the lowest ranked, whose life is made up of sacrifices. There, we are talking about the ATP which announced it for 2024, but it must be remembered that tennis is shared between two bodies, the ATP and the ITF (International Tennis Federation). The ATP works on the biggest tournaments and the Challenger circuit, and the ITF on the other competitions and the Future circuit. The ITF should learn from what the ATP is doing to help Future Tour players.



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