Q&A with Weller Evans, ATP Tour manager
Weller: I want to thank DEUCE and all the other TW readers for their patience during this busy US Open Series Summer of Tennis. By the way, if DEUCE wants to discuss the "contributions" of a certain Lou Noritz to the men's tennis circuit, I would be happy to do that off-line, as I would not want to waste the other readers' time.
Posted by NoBadMojo:
Q: Has the ATP Tour given any thought to incorporating any HarTru events into the mix? With players taking a beating and the ball flying so fast out there, wouldn’t harTru be a solution to slow things down a bit and to keep the players healthier and the tour more marketable? Players must be tired coming into the summer US hardcourt season, and then get beaten up pretty badly with the hardcourts, the heat, and the humidity. I think a faster HarTru setup would showcase the player’s skills better and extend their careers, etc. Kinda like the NFL has gone more back to the natural turf.?
A: The simplest answer to this question is that the surfaces of the Grand Slams dictate the composition of the rest of the tennis calendar as they are its cornerstones. Through 1974 when the US Open was held on grass, there was a flourishing summer grass court circuit in the Northeast at such traditional venues as The Meadow Club, Merion, Longwood, Orange Lawn, Seabright and others. Likewise, in Australia before the Australian Open moved to Melbourne Park from its grass court home at Kooyong in 1988. When the US Open moved to Har-tru from 1975-77, the summer in the
States became almost exclusively clay as my friend Ed (NoBadMojo) will remember (as do I) the Monday night finals of Longwood, Washington, etc. on PBS. Despite the US Open moving to the hard courts of Flushing in 1978, this clay circuit lingered until the mid-80's when the summer promoters finally switched to hard courts, hoping that more recognizable American names might prevail on the hard courts over the clay savvy Europeans and South Americans. Finally, in the early 1990's, the USTA pushed for a mini clay court swing in the US during the spring which had as one of its stated goals, to help develop more American players with all-around games. The events were consistently overshadowed by the European clay events (Monte Carlo, Hamburg, Rome to name just the ATP Masters Series events in that time of year) and so now only the US Clay Court Championships in Houston and the Bermuda challenger remain. So, as you can see, in a calendar full of events (and we will address NORTH's off season question shortly), there is little room for events to be played on surfaces other than those on which the majors are held.