We first began as an amateur podcast with Saqib Ali and Anand Mamidipudi, who both grew up in India in the era of McEnroe-Connors-Lendl-Becker-Edberg and became obsessed with tennis and its rich history. Then Tennis With An Accent rapidly branched out into other areas of tennis journalism. We invited several top players from the past, present and future onto our podcast. We began to cover, through the lens of on-site interviews, several important United States-based WTA and ATP tournaments, gleaning amazing insights from questions we asked in the press rooms. Saqib has managed to ask questions of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams, to name a few.
Here is one of the interviews Saqib attended with Roger Federer in Miami. He asked two questions.
Our guest list quickly multiplied. We have now interviewed several Grand Slam champions such as Petr Korda, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Johan Kriek, top tennis journalists Nick Lester and Richard Evans, and crossover experts from other sports. Our tennis writing page (which we refer to as the "blog" portion of our site) took off when Matt Zemek joined our team as the copy editor and primary writer. Matt brought great depth and insight through his unique style.
We are now on the cusp of reaching the big leagues, and potentially transforming fan-driven journalism content in tennis. We need to hire writers to deliver more content. We also need to pay professional cameramen who travel around the globe to cover this favorite sport of ours. We cannot, of course, do this alone. Saqib, Matt, and a growing team of contributors have to pay bills. We are committed to continuing to publish our content and share our podcasts publicly, without a paywall or subscription. However, in exchange for keeping 100 percent of our content available to every reader, we need funds to justify and sustain our efforts. We need the very fan base we serve to lift us up and give us the push that will hopefully set us on a path that transforms how tennis content is distributed and consumed.
Here are FAQs for tennis fans interested in our work:
Why should I visit Tennis With An Accent? What will I get here that I can't get anywhere else?
Podcast host Saqib Ali will certainly talk about popular players with his guests, but he keeps the focus on tennis and allows his guests to tell their stories instead of pre-shaping the narratives which easily attach to players and tournaments. Tennis With An Accent podcasts won't talk about players who aren't playing unless something newsworthy happens. Podcasts don't deal in clickbait; they deal in the actual weekly events on tour, and the guests drive the flow and direction of podcasts. We think this sets us apart from many other podcasts.
TWAA's written content is presented in the same vein. We're not going to chase the clickbaity topics. We will write about popular players, but only in direct response to newsworthy developments. We will focus on various players on the two tours at various stages of evolution. At the Miami Open, we wrote about a large cross-section of players and did not limit ourselves to the top five.
If Marin Cilic is an important story at a tournament and Andy Murray is not, we're going to write about Cilic, not Murray. Not all tennis sites do this. TWAA stays with the real story.
How do I know you're going to continue providing tennis content on a consistent basis, and not fade away?
We are making an ironclad commitment to cover the full 2018 tennis season. We can offer that absolute guarantee. We know that sports websites go out of business all the time, but we will give readers and podcast listeners the consistency they deserve through a full tennis season and will not parachute out of this responsibility in the middle of the year. If we receive enough funds to maintain a paid staff and financially support everyone who provides content, we will cover the full 2019 season and make another evaluation at the end of the 2019 season.
What is your budget for the year or for the tournaments you cover? How can I know that any donations will be used wisely?
At the Miami Open, site owner and founder Saqib Ali traveled to the tournament from his Massachusetts home base on his own dime. The cost of his journey was $2,500. Saqib and lead columnist Matt Zemek have been providing weekly content since the start of February, without getting paid for their work. We are covering the French Open with Saqib (podcasts and an occasional written article), Matt, and staff writers Briana Foust (who joined us in Miami and was paid for her work) plus new addition Jane Voigt. Mert Ertunga will be an occasional contributor at the French Open. We are also in talks with couple of professional cameramen who cover tennis all year long to get access to their photos. The goal is to get funded so that we can provide a complete tennis experience on this site for the remainder of this year and give us financial reserves which would justify an additional commitment to full coverage of the 2019 tennis season.
We pay our staff writers and contributors -- Briana, Jane and Mert -- $20 per article. Briana and Jane, as staff writers, have the ability to write one article every day during a major. At the 15-day French Open, this means a budgetary ceiling of $300 per writer, or $600 for the two of them. We will commit to making this payment regardless of circumstance, but receiving donations -- to enable us to pay our writers from a source other than our own pockets -- will enable the site to have a future. Mert, as an occasional contributor, will provide four stories for a budgetary allocation of $80. We are in the process of making a deal in which we pay a $125 flat fee for photos during the tournament. That's $805, not counting the need for Saqib and Matt to make money in addition to supporting the staff.
Given the amount of work Saqib and Matt are doing to run the site and produce their own original content, a $500 allocation per person is our site's minimum goal during the French Open and other major tournaments. Our current budgetary allocation for a major tournament is therefore currently $1,805, not including site hosting and software services such as Zencastr ans sound cloud for recording podcasts, which are regular monthly expenses. If we want to hire more personnel and add new features -- such as instructional videos or video analysis -- that budget for each major tournament will increase accordingly.
Another important goal is to bring you more up-close coverage with interviews and press room representation in North American summer tour events -- Washington and Montreal -- and hopefully at a major one day.
For the ATP Masters 1000/Premier Mandatory/Premier 5 tournaments, we provide daily coverage. Given the $20/article pay structure we have, two writers providing daily coverage over seven days would mean a minimum $280 budget, not including Saqib's featured weekly podcast.
BUDGET FOR 2018
French Open budget to get everyone paid for work performed and acquire photos from paid professional photographers: $1,805.
Anticipated Wimbledon and U.S. Open budgets: No less than $1,800 per tournament, but more if we receive enough funds that we can add staff and tech support.
Washington (Citi Open): Not a Masters/Premier Mandatory/Premier 5, but an event we can cover due to Saqib's proximity. Daily podcast interviews plus articles from staff writers, if priced at $20 per item, will produce a budget of close to $500. With travel costs included, the total Washington budget will be roughly $1400
Canada (Toronto/Montreal): Like Washington, only with multiple written articles each day. The writing and podcast budget will be roughly $650, the cost of the extra written articles from an additional staffer. With Saqib's travel costs, the full budget will be roughly $1500.
Cincinnati Masters/Premier 5: No travel budget, so this would be a $280 budget for writing plus a Saqib podcast, putting our non-travel-based Masters/Premier 5/Premier Mandatory budget number at $300.
Wuhan WTA: $300.
Beijing WTA: $300.
Shanghai Masters ATP: $300.
Bercy (Paris) Masters ATP: $300.
WTA Finals: $300.
ATP Finals: $300.
Fed Cup Final: $100.
Davis Cup semifinals: $100.
Davis Cup Final: $100.
There are 10 other weeks of tour play on the 2018 calendar, not counting all the events itemized above. With an expectation of putting out a weekly podcast and one written article per weekday, a weekly budget during the slowest weeks of the year (with an ATP 250 and/or a WTA International level event) would be $120, not counting the recurring monthly expenses for website maintenance and podcast hosting.
10 weeks at $120 per week give us a budget of $1,200 for those 10 weeks.
We would take the month of December off.
All these numbers above, added together, represent our minimum budgetary needs for the rest of 2018:
3 majors at a minimum of $1,800 = $5,400 plus TBD amounts on photography rates based on the free lance journalist in partnership with.
Citi Open and Rogers Cupcombined budget: $ 2900
Newport Budget: $300
CT open - $400
Cincy, Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai, Bercy, WTA Finals, ATP Finals at $300 per: $2,100.
Davis Cup SF, Fed Cup Final, Davis Cup Final at $100 per: $300.
10 other tour weeks at $120 per week: $1,200.
$5,400 + 2900 + $300+ $400 +$2,100 + $300 + $1,200 =$12,600.
This is why our GoFundMe goal is $25,000. That amount, if raised, would support 12 months of coverage in terms of paying monthly website expenses and compensating all writers and podcasters. The total, if raised, would also allow for various improvements, whether a website upgrade, additional purchasing of photos to honor the work done by professional photographers, or hiring new staff writers, especially at the majors and the bigger Masters/Premier Mandatory tournaments in the United States.
- Jimmy Miller
- Ros Satar
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