Changes I would make to pro tennis

First and foremost to me, tennis is a sport. But the world of professional tennis is a balance of sport and entertainment. And really it is the entertainment side of the game that brings in the dollars that keep the circuit functioning. With that in mind I started to think about relatively minor changes that both the WTA and the ATP could make to attract new followers to pro tennis.
Player identification
When a casual fan views a football game or hockey game on television or in the stadium it is easy to identify the members of each team primarily based on their the team’s colours and the team uniforms that are emblazoned with the team logo and the player’s name and number. But tennis, being an individual sport does not have that feature. Players are free to wear what they choose or as is more the norm what their clothing sponsor chooses for them to wear.
Over the past few years athletic companies have created player outfit kits specific for each grand slam tournament. The problem is that all the players sponsored by a specific company are wearing the same kit, save for the very top players who receive an outfit that only they wear.
For example at Roland Garros this year all the Adidas female athletes were wearing a purple skirt and orange top combo with matching shoes. Even for a regular tournament attendee it is often difficult to distinguish one player from the other. A number of the players who were wearing this particular outfit also sported long dark hair which was tied back in a braid or ponytail ( Christina McHale, Garbine Muguruza and Sorana Cirstea) held in place by the colour coordinated visor.
Also at Roland garros the “in” colours for the men were black and neon yellow. Watching on television I could not differentiate the two players on court , I finally noticed that their wristbands were different so that is how I could tell who was who.
Wimbledon also presents a similar challenge to the casual fan and sometimes to the dedicated fan as well. All players dressed in all white. Combine that with the numerous blonde ponytails (Bouchard, Wozniacki Kerber, Kvitova, Kirilenko, Lisicki, Makarova….it can be near impossible to tell one player from the other.

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If you combine the similar outfits with players that are continually changing ends of the court you cannot blame the casual fan for being totally confused.
Perhaps companies could provide two colour palettes and the higher seeded player would get to choose their preferred palette.
Alternatively the player’s name could be placed on the back of the top making it nice and clear who is who.

Intermission

Another thing I would change would be to increase the time of the break between sets. Not only would this allow the players a bathroom break I would do this for the fans.

The two minute break on changeovers and between sets does not allow the fans in attendance enough time to get refreshments or use the facilities. If a fan waits until the set is over to refuel it means they cannot get back to their seats for at least three games and in some matches that could be half the set. Extending the time between sets to five to seven minutes could alleviate this problem.

This would also allow fans watching on television to grab a snack or throw in a load of laundry before settling back down to watch the next set.

Player withdrawals
Another problem that needs to be addressed is the cancellation of matches when a player withdraws prior to the match.
At the Sony Open in Miami this year the afternoon mens semi final was cancelled when Kei Nishikori withdrew due to an injury he incurred during his match the night before against Roger Federer. Then the evening semi final with Nadal was cancelled when his opponent Thomas Berdych withdrew with a stomach ailment. This left ticket holders with no matches to see and the tournament substituted ladies doubles for the evening match.
This problem of ticket holders with no match to see could be alleviated if the lucky loser from the match before could fill in the spot. For example in the Nishikori match the lucky loser would have been Roger Federer and that would have created a Federer – Nadal semi final. Ranking points would have to be adjusted for this format to work.

Davis cup and Fed cup
In order to increase the fan base of these two country based events I think it would be beneficial to combine them. Davis cup for the men and Fed cup for the women combined would make for a more exciting weekend of tennis. From an organizational standpoint it would be easier to set up one temporary venue for the event instead of the case now where the events are held in different locations in the same host country. But what would make this better from the entertainment viewpoint is that this format would allow the inclusion of mixed doubles.

 

These are just a few of my ideas to increase the tennis fan base, minor changes that could have a big impact. Let me know what you think.

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Lady Li Na Announcement!

SportySpeaks

Friday, September 19, 2014….

Li Na … WTA World Number 2…

Says Farewell To Tennis!

Li Na’s Letter to World & Fans….

My dear friends,

For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.

Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honour. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.

2014 has…

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Dropshotdiva

Over the past few days i have started posting blogs to my site. Since i am new to this i registered for the blogging 101 course, and now i am in the process of completing the first assignment. My job is to tell my readers who i am, why i am blogging and what i am blogging about.

The most relevant information about me in regards to this blog is that i am a tennis player who loves all aspects of the sport.  As a player, i am constantly working to improve my game, and as a fan i love watching matches, both live and on tv. I can watch a match at any level, juniors to pros, and find it fascinating. I get more excited about the release of a new model of Adidas Barricades than i do about the latest shoe by Jimmy Choo. Ditto for the latest court fashions. I am one of those people that find themselves sleep deprived when the tours do their Asian swing and my life is turned upside down during the Australian Open.  I have almost completed the entire fan Grand Slam experience with just the Australian Open remaining on my list.

I know there are a lot of people out there who write about tennis. My idea for this blog is to focus on young Canadian players, primarily those playing university tennis or playing on the futures and challengers circuit. My challenge will be gathering information about the players and tracking their results, but i feel confident it will be a rewarding experience  .

What’s next for Serena?

Serena Williams capped off the 2014 Grand Slam season by winning the US Open for her 18th major title. To quote Serena after the match “It means a lot to me, who could ever imagine I’d be mentioned with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. I was just a kid from Compton with a dream and a racket.” And yet there she was on the court receiving an 18 carat gold bracelet in honour of her achievement from Chris and Martina.

So now what? Well already Serena has begun talking about Grand Slam Title #19, but knowing the competitor that she is, i believe she is taking aim at Steffi Graff’s record of 22 titles and planning her path to #23. If this is this case, i think there are a few things that should be considered.

2014 was hardly a banner year by Serena standards, especially since she usually judges her year by her results at Grand Slam tournaments.  At the Australian Open Serena lost in the fourth round to Ana Ivanovic, although she did confess she was dealing with a back injury. In Paris, at Roland Garros, Serena was stunned in the second round by the up and coming Garbine Muguruza of Spain, and that was quickly followed by  a third round loss to Alize Cornet of France on the grass courts of Wimbledon. I am not even going to delve into the doubles fiasco that was the Williams Sisters exit from Wimbledon.

In contrast, Serena’s results at the less significant tournaments were much more impressive. Serena won the title in Brisbane, prior to the Australian Open, defeating Victoria Azarenka and followed that with a win in Miami at the Sony Open with a victory over Li Na. Prior to Roland Garros Serena won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

On the hard courts of the US Open Series Tournaments, Serena won the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford and the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati putting her out in front in the race to the US Open.

But, to pass Steffi Graff and win 23 Grand Slam titles, Serena will have to win 5 more Grand Slam tournaments.  Each tournament requires 7 consecutive victories to claim the title which means Serena will have to win 35 more matches at the biggest tournaments.  This means Serena will have to be focussed from the very start of the tournament even in those early round matches where she often has trouble staying in the moment.

Reports in the last week, have indicated that Serena has parted ways with her coach and sometime boyfriend, Patrick Mouratoglou. In my opinion if Serena is to take a run at the all time Grand Slam Title record, now is the time to put a champion in her camp. Serena does not need a coach to help her with her groundstrokes or her volleys and certainly her serve is the best in the women’s game, Serena needs a coach in her box who has the winning mentality. And there were two of the best standing with her at the US Open trophy presentation, Martina and Chris. What a perfect opportunity to glean a winning mentality from either of those two champions while at the same time promoting the ability of women to coach at the highest level of the game.

Although the record is within her reach, the draw of so many outside activities could be an issue. Her show at New York’s Fashion week made headlines, as did her absence at various media events following the championship win. If Serena is not enjoying the work required to win those championships the results will not be there. In fact one of the things that Marin Cilic the US Open Men’s champion said was that his new coach Goran Invanisevic put the fun back in the game. As i watched Serena warm up for her match in Stanford (see photos) i couldn’t help but notice how miserable she seemed. While other players tossed frisbees to warm up and appeared loose and relaxed, Serena appeared disinterested and bored.

My prediction: I expect Serena to keep competing and going after the record as long as injuries do not become an issue and she can keep her eye on the prize.

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Whatever happened to Thomas Berdych?

If you had told me before the US Open started that the last man standing would not be one of the big four, I most certainly would not have predicted the champion to be Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Of the big four, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray I was definitely hoping for a Federer triumph.
But of the possible outsiders who could take the title, Cilic was not on my radar.
As a Canadian I was rooting for Milos Raonic, however, deep down I still felt he was not playing the critical points in matches as a champion would and so those matches often slipped away. Although he has improved vastly, his ground strokes have become much more dependable over the past year, his time to win a major has not yet arrived.

Even though Stan Wawrinka broke through in January claiming the Australian Open title, his results the rest of the year have been mixed, and so i was not totally surprised that he was not in the final.
There was a lot of talk about Grigor Dimitrov becoming a first time slam winner but even though he has all the shots I could not see him gritting out a tough five set match against one of the larger and stronger top ten players.
There have also been a number of young players who have had strong showings this summer including on occasion   Bernard Tomic.  Showing the ability to beat the top player were both Nick Krygios and Alexandr Dolgopolov. I don’t think any of these rising players are at the point in their careers where they are capable of sustaining the high level of play required over the two weeks of a grand slam tournament and all three lost fairly early.

But the player I would have picked was Thomas Berdych. In fact every time a big tournament comes around I wonder if this is the moment the Czech will have his breakthrough. Of all the top players yet to win a major Berdych stands out to me as the one who has all the tools, and he has shown he can dig out of tough matches, and hang with the big four.
In the past few years Berdych has had mixed results at the majors. Although he reached the final at Wimbledon in 2010 defeating both Federer and Djokovic on the way to a loss to Nadal, his results at the slams are inconsistent.   A strong semi final showing on the hard courts of the Australian Open in January of this year losing to the eventual champion Wawrinka, had me thinking perhaps he could pull it all together for the US Open. Berdych also showed some mental fortitude when he won three points in the Davis Cup tie against the Netherlands, where he won both his singles matches and his doubles match.

But in the quarter-finals Thomas Berdych ran into a red hot Marin Cilic, who routed him in three straight sets. And as they say, the rest is history. I guess the question remains, What happened to Thomas Berdych and will he ever win a major?

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CBS announcers blast handling of heatstroke incident at U.S. Open

Apparently it is the player’s decision to continue or retire. But in this case the player was in no condition to make that decision.
There needs to be changes to the rules that would allow the umpire to make the decision.
This incident is similar to Serena at Wimbledon in the doubles where the umpire should have been able to force her to retire.

For The Win

(AP) (AP)

“This is both unsafe for Peng and unfair for Caroline,” Mary Carillo said on CBS, 15 minutes into a confusing, dangerous medical episode involving Chinese player Peng Shuai, who fell ill while down a set and 3-4 in the second to Caroline Wozniacki in their U.S. Open semifinal. Peng then received a lengthy, controversial medical timeout and tried to resume play before being forced to retire after a few more points.

A hot, humid New York day took its toll on both players, but it was Peng who felt it most. At 3-4, 30-30, she appeared to cramp. Wozniacki waited an extra few seconds before serving, then double faulted, showing that it’s more difficult than you’d think to play against a physically compromised opponent. Then, before the next serve, Peng walked to the back of the court and froze, in excruciating pain. Trainers and tournament officials came out, handing…

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