This week proved to be a difficult one. Like Puig, Tennis is having a difficult time bouncing back from a major tournament with a new #1 who has won two slams! The Asian swing is off to a slow start with Serena’s absence and a difficult draw for Kerber in Wuhan. In Tokyo, Wozniacki will play Osaka in the final of what will be a big tournament for the winner, either a stamp of return or arrival. In St. Petersburg a soaring Wawrinka will play Zverev in the final and at the Mosell Open Thiem will battle with Poulle in the final. Read on for five major moments in tennis this week:
5. The biggest lie tennis journalists promote is the importance of the Tour Championships (Singapore) and World Tour Finals (London). Neither players nor fans dream of these matches. Players never site these end of season tournaments on their goal lists; in fact, most treat it like a work obligation not a bonus. So even though Serena Williams, who is out of competition due to a recurring shoulder injury, plans to return to tour for the Finals in Singapore, WTA and ATP Finals are little more than exhibitions in locations the tours have determined to be fertile for the growth of the sport. The stadiums and television ratings for these tournaments do not rival slams. The winner is the athlete who has the fewest injuries and the most gas in their tanks after ten months. Like Davis Cup and Fed Cup, this tournament is broken. Beyond the small tennis community, these tournaments are unknown.
4. Two weeks ago, ITF President David Haggerty said, “The Davis and Fed Cup competition – tennis’ annual team event – must reinvent itself. And soon.” Here is more proof nothing changes in Tennis. It looks like 2017 Tennis Calendar will not look very different!
The 2016 Davis Cup Final between Croatia and Argentina will take place in Croatia on 25-27 November. The Draw for the 2017 Davis Cup was held on September 22nd at the BNP Paribas offices in London on Thursday. Individual draws were made for the 2017 World Group, Americas Zone Groups I and II, Asia/Oceania Zone Groups I and II, and Europe/Africa Zone Groups I and II. The 2017 World Group dates are as follows:
World Group first round: 3-5 February
World Group quarterfinals: 7-9 April
World Group semifinals and play-offs: 15-17 September
World Group Final: 24-26 November
3. TennisTV notified subscribers that as of September 1st, annual subscriptions are no longer available; it was 129.95. Now only monthly 19.99 and daily passes at 9.99 are available. Easy and affordable tennis accessibility continues to be a problem.
2. Is tennis finally ready to change its medieval scoring system which gives us unyielding matches? Steve Tignor explores this in, “Full Speed Ahead: How Tennis’ Officials are Trying to Make a 19th Century Game Move at a 21st Century Pace.”
Local Clubs, the NCAA )ITA) and USTA’s Local Play & Competition Committee have all instituted alternative scoring to speed up play. But it is Federer and Hewitt promotion of the Fast4 is the scoring system that may help the sport see the value of this most needed change. Last January, they played a five set match in ninety minutes, 4–3 (5–3), 2–4, 3–4 (3–5), 4–0, 4–2, in Sydney, Australia. It will likely take sponsors and television outlets insistence to alter the sport.
1.There was a theme of diversity or inclusion tennis this week. On NCR Tennis Podcast Ben Rothenberg talked with three players about their religion/faith/nationalities and how it sometimes affects their lives on tour. He interviewed Shahar Peer (Jewish), Tim Smyczek Catholic), and Aisam Qureshi (Muslim).
For Rolling Stones, Van Sias addressed diversity in, “U.S. Men’s Tennis has a Diversity Problem – But What’s Being Done to Fix It?” Though the article shares the same arguments we have heard for decades and it highlights the highest ranked African-American players, it does not look address the tennis’ racism, cost and broken training system. The Williams sisters succeeded in spite of not with the assistance of existing tennis institutions. Thankfully Martin Blackman, General Manager of the United States Tennis Association’s Player Development, and others are beginning to address long-held ideas and issues in the sport.
BONUS-Great to see MSNBC carry the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture on Saturday, September 24, 2016.