Posted By GotGame?
Q: I would like to know if you are contemplating about putting any of these following suggested improvements for the game into effect:
- Permanently using models as ball girls, like was done at the Masters event in Madrid last year
- Bigger balls
- Smaller courts
- Adorning the backs of players' shirts with their names
- Sanctioned on-court coaching
- Elimination of best-of-five format - except in Grand Slam finals
- No let serves
A: MODELS AS BALLGIRLS: If they can throw and catch, why not? I'm sure you can find tons of aspiring models who want to run around in the heat and humidity of Indianapolis for a tournament t-shirt and some mac and cheese.
BIGGER BALLS: A fiasco several years ago when somehow the ITF convinced ball manufacturers, much to their chagrin, to invest millions in the production of a bigger ball. Never made it past the experimentation stage at satellite events and the premise that it made the game easier to learn was ridiculous (the lighter, oversized racket did way more to further that goal).
SMALLER COURTS: Please. Guys like Hewitt or Coria (who I am watching right this moment in Beijing) already make the court seem small. You want a smaller court? Play paddle tennis at Venice Beach or platform tennis at some country club in the northeast.
NAMES ON THE BACKS OF SHIRTS: If the clothing manufacturers think this would sell more apparel, then I am all for it. If, however, it is just to aid in identifying the players, anybody who cannot use the scoreboard to assist in this regard probably also needs that seat belt demonstration on the airplane.
ON-COURT COACHING: This was experimented with at a half dozen ATP events several years ago. Coaching was allowed at the set breaks. It was not adopted as the players expressed two reservations:
1) Not every player could afford a coach. A specious argument at best because there are a multitude of goods and services which enhance performance that some players can afford and others cannot.
2) Tennis is unique as it is one of the few sports where the athlete must think for himself as well as physically perform. Yet, while most players opposed implementing coaching, many accept it surreptitiously during their matches.
ELIMINATE BEST OF FIVE SET MATCHES: I believe sometime down the road (maybe not anytime soon, however) Grand Slams will have to face this issue. In today's climate of short attention spans and hundreds of choices at the click of your remote control, who but the hard-core tennis fan(atic) sits and watches an ENTIRE five set match. Come on now, as compelling as it was, who out there saw every point of the Blake-Agassi match, an instant classic?
ELIMINATE THE LET: A logical move. Why is it acceptable to have a lucky let cord during a point but not on a serve one shot before? In addition, it would add excitement to the game, especially if both players could return the let serve in doubles (as in World Team Tennis). More players are open minded to this change than 10 years ago.
As great as the game of professional tennis is, it needs to constantly evolve to keep pace with other professional sports which do. Since the tie-break was introduced over 35 years ago, what other innovations have been made? Yellow balls? Modifying the first changeover in each set? Is that it?
We need to continue to enhance tennis WITHOUT changing the essence of the game.