Fiona Crawley had only played two WTA tour matches before coming into the US Open. She had to play long matches at the qualifiers to make a first-time appearance at the Grand Slams. Crawley played for six hours in her first two qualifiers and had a better outing in the third. She played against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening round and went down in straight sets.
Crawley had to undergo disappointment after the loss. She was concerned about certain regulations set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Crawley was about to win $81,000 from her US Open campaign, but the NCAA rules forbade her from accepting the prize money. “I would never take the money and never risk my eligibility, but I worked my b*tt off this week.” She was not happy with the outcome after the match.
Fiona Crawley, a student at University of North Carolina, competed at the US Open & earned $81,000.
She forfeited the money. If she had accepted it, she wouldn’t have been eligible for NCAA.
“I’d never take the money & never risk my eligibility. But I worked my butt off this… pic.twitter.com/P4ZKLLWpNC
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) September 1, 2023
The NCAA states that tennis players can only receive a maximum of $10,000 worth of prize money each year. They can win more prize money after that but will have to turn professional. Crawley did not accept the prize money and kept her NCAA eligibility intact. The fans were not happy with the decision taken by the NCAA, as many stood up for her and spoke about the NCAA not changing their draconian rules.
Rachel Stuhlmann raises voice against NCAA for Fiona Crawley
Tennis influencer Rachel Stuhlmann supported Crawley as she commented about the situation. Stuhlmann said that tennis is different from other sports and hopes that the NCAA makes changes accordingly. On the other hand, Crawley also compared how players earn millions in other sports, but she has to follow a specific limit regarding prize money.
Crawley wanted to avoid taking risks by turning professional immediately. She wanted to have the eligibility, but the prize money would have made her life easier. Meanwhile, Stuhlmann had spoken against Laura Siegemund after the latter’s match against Coco Gauff in the US Open. Stuhlmann was one of the first to talk about the issues Crawley faced.
Honestly, pay her. She’s right. Tennis is dif then other sports. Hoping NCAA can figure this out. https://t.co/arK7HfNjR0
— Rachel Stuhlmann (@rstuhlmann) September 1, 2023
There have been no comments from the NCAA about the issue. The 21-year-old will try to enter the professional tour as soon as possible. Her eligibility is essential, but she cannot miss out on the experience. Crawley has already decided and will now return to winning matches again at ITF events. She will look to enter the professional tour as soon as possible.