What if ATP/ITF/WTA banned poly strings and 100+ sq in racquets?

N

nikdom

Guest
....And standardized balls for clay, grass and hard courts?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Background:

Over the years, there’s been a lot of discussion here regarding the direction of changes on the tennis tour.

Typically they fall into these broad categories:
1. Surfaces - speeding up courts, more events on a surface, color etc
2. Changes to the game and scoring - no-ad, service lets, no second serve etc
3. Tennis calendar - distribution and type of events over a calendar year
4. Officiating - e.g shot clock, hawk eye, no linespeople
5. Other - prize money, gender issues, doubles etc​

The rationale offered is also varied and falls into these concerns-
A. Player health - preventing injuries, prolonging careers
B. Game style - variety, restricting/promoting a certain type of play (s&v, rallies)
C. Viewer entertainment - better viewing on TV, faster matches, drama
D. Tradition/Future of sport - self-explanatory
Some ideas have already been implemented and others are on the horizon.

Rarely do we ever talk about regulating tennis equipment though even as it is clear that tennis has changed a lot in the past two decades from the eras before it by virtue of string and racquet technology.

The idea of regulating equipment isn’t new or unique. Golf for example banned ‘belly’ putters in order to remove what they felt was an unfair advantage and break from the traditions of the game.

Rationale:
I would say my concerns fall across ALL the ones listed earlier A-D. In essence I believe that - Tennis has had a unique blend of skills and athleticism that have stayed stable across generations until string technology in particular, and other equipment changes, completely up-ended it.

I believe that the cause for these zillion-shot rallies, each hit remarkably hard, and the ability of players across the board to have strong baseline games has tilted the balance in favor of brute force (at a high cost to players bodies), decreased variety, increased the incentive to dope, and negatively affected the popularity of the sport outside a couple of top rivalries.

While too much ink is spent on arguing surfaces, officiating and the calendar, this could be a
one shot solution to making sure the sport can return to it’s Skill-based roots and positively affect other aspects such as player health and viewer interest.

What will the changes entail
Primarily, the high top spin employed by players today has made extreme angles and a style of retrieval and high-percentage groundstrokes normal. We do not want to eliminate top-spin completely or punish good groundstrokes as much as constrain the extent to which this has affected the ‘normal’ of the game.

By restricting the type of strings to nylon multi-filament and size of head, we potentially nudge player style back into a range where timing, placement, all-court skills gain back a bit more ground.

By standardizing balls for each surface, we also take out the extraneous factor of tournaments getting as big a say in dictating play; surface, bounce and court speed are plenty for tournaments to decide.


Of course, a big change like this probably has to start juniors and up. What do you guys think though? I feel like there are plenty of aspects here to generate a good discussion
 
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Simon_the_furry

Hall of Fame
....And standardized balls for clay, grass and hard courts?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Background:

Over the years, there’s been a lot of discussion here regarding the direction of changes on the tennis tour.

Typically they fall into these broad categories:
1. Surfaces - speeding up courts, more events on a surface, color etc
2. Changes to the game and scoring - no-ad, service lets, no second serve etc
3. Tennis calendar - distribution and type of events over a calendar year
4. Officiating - e.g shot clock, hawk eye, no linespeople
5. Other - prize money, gender issues, doubles etc​

The rationale offered is also varied and falls into these concerns-
A. Player health - preventing injuries, prolonging careers
B. Game style - variety, restricting/promoting a certain type of play (s&v, rallies)
C. Viewer entertainment - better viewing on TV, faster matches, drama
D. Tradition/Future of sport - self-explanatory
Some ideas have already been implemented and others are on the horizon.

Rarely do we ever talk about regulating tennis equipment though even as it is clear that tennis has changed a lot in the past two decades from the eras before it by virtue of string and racquet technology.

The idea of regulating equipment isn’t new or unique. Golf for example banned ‘belly’ putters in order to remove what they felt was an unfair advantage and break from the traditions of the game.

Rationale:
I would say my concerns fall across ALL the ones listed earlier A-D. In essence I believe that - Tennis has had a unique blend of skills and athleticism that have stayed stable across generations until string technology in particular, and other equipment changes, completely up-ended it.

I believe that the cause for these zillion-shot rallies, each hit remarkably hard, and the ability of players across the board to have strong baseline games has tilted the balance in favor of brute force (at a high cost to players bodies), decreased variety, increased the incentive to dope, and negatively affected the popularity of the sport outside a couple of top rivalries.

While too much ink is spent on arguing surfaces, officiating and the calendar, this could be a
one shot solution to making sure the sport can return to it’s Skill-based roots and positively affect other aspects such as player health and viewer interest.

What will the changes entail
Primarily, the high top spin employed by players today has made extreme angles and a style of retrieval and high-percentage groundstrokes normal. We do not want to eliminate top-spin completely or punish good groundstrokes as much as constrain the extent to which this has affected the ‘normal’ of the game.

By restricting the type of strings to nylon multi-filament and size of head, we potentially nudge player style back into a range where timing, placement, all-court skills gain back a bit more ground.

By standardizing balls for each surface, we also take out the extraneous factor of tournaments getting as big a say in dictating play; surface, bounce and court speed are plenty for tournaments to decide.


Of course, a big change like this probably has to start juniors and up. What do you guys think though? I feel like there are plenty of aspects here to generate a good discussion
I'd be okay with a ban on polyester strings. In fact, I'd like to see how it would work out.
 
And go to what?

A very large number of pro players already have natural gut crossed in their strings anyways.

For example NXT/Natural gut is hardly any poly. Its like one fiber in the whole thing.
 
B

BrokenGears

Guest
Why does everyone suggest things that benefit Fed?

Next thread will be asking ATP to make all courts grass and require one volley per rally
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
It will never happen. The racquet industry would go bankrupt, and they're the piper payers that call the tune.

The game was perfect in the 80s. The new technology caused the domination of the serve in the 90s, creating the backlash that resulted in today's slower surfaces and heavier balls. Imagine if you had 80s equipment and surfaces, with today's nutrition and training regimina. Tennis would be in a much better place than it is now.
 

Racer41c

Professional
I think it comes down to what you think is entertaining and what people would pay money to watch? For me I don't watch any matches where the points are serve only or go on for 20 shots each point. It is more ideally in the middle. And I like the skill and finesse required of the athlete. For me it's like shooting a basketball and dunking a basketball. I'd rather watch great shooting than great dunking.

If I were setting the rules, I'd regulate poly not ban it. I would set maximum Stiffness to about 180 according to the RSI table. You can make all the poly you want, just has to meet the requirement. It would also have to be commercially available and tested on racquets after they are played in competition to remove cheating.

On Racquets, I'd implement the same type of limitations and regulate stiffness. I don't really think the issue is size as much as power+spin that the stiff racquets create.

The other change I'd make is limiting the length to 27"
 
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PMChambers

Hall of Fame
Banning poly or enforcing gut only would likely bring tennis back into the 90s style of play even without bringing back carpet. If you like the 90s style of tennis and similar racquet sizes than that would be a good thing. But tennis was not always great in the 90s.
I have not tried it but making maximum head size to 85^2" might work. Reduce the poly spin effect. I think it would hurt club tennis though 100+ racquets have been around since early graphite era, though rarely prominent in pro tennis.
Tennis biggest issue to me is availability. It's hard to watch tennis without either illegally downloading it or paying a lot. You'd think ATP would want more eyes on the sport.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
IROC Style tennis

Or here ya go, make everyone use exactly the same equipment and remove the money variable in play. Keep all racquet, ball, and surface specs the same. Then let's see athleticism and skill play out.
 

ron schaap

Professional
I'd be okay with a ban on polyester strings. In fact, I'd like to see how it would work out.
I would vote to ban strings altogether
. Let's start playing with frying pans with small holes. LOL
Oh wait that sport already exists. It's called PADEL.
To bad nobody watches it...:D
 

ron schaap

Professional
o
do many pros use 100+ sq in racquets?
only the Williams sisters. So the OP who started the discussion thinks they had an unfair advantage? Or Billy Jean King or Connors who where the only ones during the beginning of the 70s who played with metal frames with a bigger sweetspot than the other pros who played the traditional wooden racquets.
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
I think poly strings are ok. The additional spin that they facilitate enables players to find angles that are good for the sport and for viewership (more spectacular shots, etc.)

They should shrink racquet head size to 95" or even 93" and lower. The never-ending rallies are a direct result of larger racquets making it easier to hit a ball cleanly. Just look at how Fed has benefited from his 97" racquet (and what's even more impressive is how he dominated the field for 10 years using a 90" racquet when everyone else was using 95+). A smaller racquet head will result in more high-precision shots and touch play, less never-ending defensive play, and a shift back to medium size players who move well as opposed to big guys over 6'3" who rely on a big serve and power groundstrokes only.
 

Simon_the_furry

Hall of Fame
o

only the Williams sisters. So the OP who started the discussion thinks they had an unfair advantage? Or Billy Jean King or Connors who where the only ones during the beginning of the 70s who played with metal frames with a bigger sweetspot than the other pros who played the traditional wooden racquets.
No, a lot of pros use 100 square inches or more. Rafael Nadal, Mikhail Youzhny, Richard Gasquet, Shuai Peng, Benoit Paire, Roberta Vinci, etc.
 

George Turner

Hall of Fame
If restrictions were put in place on strings/racquet some of today's players would drop off the tour.

There's a lot of not very talented players today benefiting from advances in technology levelling the playing field. Golf has a similar issue with technology allowing any ordinary ball striker to drive it 300+ yards. So the world number 100 can win any event.

This is largely why these days you see the world number 100 pulling off more "upsets" than 15 or 20 years ago in tennis.
 

ReeceSachs

Hall of Fame
I think poly strings are ok. The additional spin that they facilitate enables players to find angles that are good for the sport and for viewership (more spectacular shots, etc.)

They should shrink racquet head size to 95" or even 93" and lower. The never-ending rallies are a direct result of larger racquets making it easier to hit a ball cleanly. Just look at how Fed has benefited from his 97" racquet (and what's even more impressive is how he dominated the field for 10 years using a 90" racquet when everyone else was using 95+). A smaller racquet head will result in more high-precision shots and touch play, less never-ending defensive play, and a shift back to medium size players who move well as opposed to big guys over 6'3" who rely on a big serve and power groundstrokes only.
That was Federer choice to stick with it. He made his name with that racket. His Forehand and slice and defence which according to Federer what 90 inch was good for might not have been good. They shouldn’t ban modern racket tech. And it gives a control advantage as well.
 

ReeceSachs

Hall of Fame
Why does everyone suggest things that benefit Fed?

Next thread will be asking ATP to make all courts grass and require one volley per rally
I like Federer and am a fan but many people on here want to come up with unfair benefits.
Federer has fastcourts
Wimbeldon,USO,Shanghai,WTF( at least until 2011 it was more medium in the 2012-2017 era,Cincinnati,Canada,Dubai,Halle etc
They sped up AO in the last 3 additions to suit Federer as well.n
 
B

BrokenGears

Guest
I like Federer and am a fan but many people on here want to come up with unfair benefits.
Federer has fastcourts
Wimbeldon,USO,Shanghai,WTF( at least until 2011 it was more medium in the 2012-2017 era,Cincinnati,Canada,Dubai,Halle etc
They sped up AO in the last 3 additions to suit Federer as well.n
Ye, next you'll be hearing Fed fans asking to play with wooden rackets again
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Honestly I don't think it bumps up players abilities as much as everyone tries to think it does - like without it they would be barely 5.0. The field lays the way it does with everyone given access to use the same technology as best as their skills, fitness, technique and mental game allow them to compete. Limit the technology and exactly the same would hold true with pretty much the same level because the skill, fitness, technique and mental game hasn't changed for the players.

It is almost one of those "Well anyone can compete with that technology" threads, yet we still see heavy difference in plaer levels from USTA leagues, to Juniors, to ITF, to Pros.

You change a little dynamic, but not that much.
 

ReeceSachs

Hall of Fame
AO since 2017, yes.

USO no chance it’s been medium past few years. 32 court pace or something I think.
Even before AO 2017 ITF had it classified as Medium and Medium-Fast depending on the year.
Then they made it faster.
Also no way is USO 32 that is a unofficial source you pulled that number from. 32 is Medium-slow. USO is still a fast court even today. If they officially say they will slow it down which they have not then I would agree.
 

Greatgatsby

Semi-Pro
Yes please.
then broken back agassi with his kevlar and retired sampras with his gut could go back on tour at their current age and make all the weak gen look even worse without poly
If they all had to use wooden rackets I think John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova could pair up and win mixed doubles titles in the main draws.
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
Even before AO 2017 ITF had it classified as Medium and Medium-Fast depending on the year.
Then they made it faster.
Also no way is USO 32 that is a unofficial source you pulled that number from. 32 is Medium-slow. USO is still a fast court even today. If they officially say they will slow it down which they have not then I would agree.
My mistake it was 35.7, which is medium I believe. And no way is USO fast. Watch any match from 2010 and earlier it used to fly through the court
 

ReeceSachs

Hall of Fame
My mistake it was 35.7, which is medium I believe. And no way is USO fast. Watch any match from 2010 and earlier it used to fly through the court
I have. It was very fast. Watch USO 2014-2016. It’s still quick. Cllic FH heaven.
Some years they paint with more of less slica to make it faster or slower.
That’s why you think that.
USO is still Fast the 35.7 has been denied by USO and you pulled that possibly from a unofficial source. The ratings all contradict.
ITF Pro Deco Turf-Speed 4- Medium-Fast
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
I have. It was very fast. Watch USO 2014-2016. It’s still quick. Cllic FH heaven.
Some years they paint with more of less slica to make it faster or slower.
That’s why you think that.
USO is still Fast the 35.7 has been denied by USO and you pulled that possibly from a unofficial source. The ratings all contradict.
ITF Pro Deco Turf-Speed 4- Medium-Fast
Nowhere near as fast as it was before 2011.

2015 was not fast lol.
 

sportmac

Hall of Fame
Yes to poly strings ban. I don't believe anything has ever changed the game as much. Even the decline of wood racquets didn't see the decline of s&v players. The strings have allowed these marathon matches with little to no variety.

I read that in the 2000 AO one match lasted over 4.5 hours for the entire tournament, in the 2015 AO there were 11 of them in the first round (I'll try to find the link).

Instead of doing their job and restricting technology, the ITF, the stewards of the game, are now looking at major rule changes to counter these long matches.

https://sports.vice.com/en_ca/article/qkqyvd/conspiracy-string-theory-how-new-technology-killed-american-mens-tennis

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-new-physics-of-tennis/308339/
 

Thomas195

Semi-Pro
I like Federer and am a fan but many people on here want to come up with unfair benefits.
Federer has fastcourts
Wimbeldon,USO,Shanghai,WTF( at least until 2011 it was more medium in the 2012-2017 era,Cincinnati,Canada,Dubai,Halle etc
They sped up AO in the last 3 additions to suit Federer as well.n
The one closest to a true fast court was Paris Master 2010, and we all know that Llodra had the greatest run in his career, beating 4 top 10 players. And, if someone like Murray can snatch a win by S&V on all first serves in the 2nd and 3rd sets, then it was due to a fast court. But, that court was not even as fast as, say, USO 2002.

Slow-Medium-Medium Fast-Fast: The fastest courts (like AO since 2017 or Washington or Cincy) today are only in the upper range of Medium Fast.
 

Simon_the_furry

Hall of Fame
The one closest to a true fast court was Paris Master 2010, and we all know that Llodra had the greatest run in his career, beating 4 top 10 players. And, if someone like Murray can snatch a win by S&V on all first serves in the 2nd and 3rd sets, then it was due to a fast court. But, that court was not even as fast as, say, USO 2002.

Slow-Medium-Medium Fast-Fast: The fastest courts (like AO since 2017 or Washington or Cincy) today are only in the upper range of Medium Fast.
s'Hertogenbosch?
 

Gato

Semi-Pro
What if what if.. what if they banned tennis balls and they have to play tennis with foam balls
 

ReeceSachs

Hall of Fame
The one closest to a true fast court was Paris Master 2010, and we all know that Llodra had the greatest run in his career, beating 4 top 10 players. And, if someone like Murray can snatch a win by S&V on all first serves in the 2nd and 3rd sets, then it was due to a fast court. But, that court was not even as fast as, say, USO 2002.

Slow-Medium-Medium Fast-Fast: The fastest courts (like AO since 2017 or Washington or Cincy) today are only in the upper range of Medium Fast.
USO might have been a bit slower due to less slica. It is certain medium-fast. Grass is fast that is why Federer has 8 titles. Paris 2010 may have been the fastest court in the slower court era. It was medium mostly though.
 

Zoolander

Hall of Fame
First step, limit headsize for pros to around 92-93 inch. Racquet manufacturers can make a "pro" version of each racquet that has the limited headsize, but will still make bigger ones for rec players. See how it goes. Then if more changes needed, ban polys.

80's-90's were best all round compromise for racquet tech v the game itself. Everybody bags the 90's for boring servefests which were a problem, but that issue was pretty much limited to grass/carpet. With the way grass is nowadays. no problem ;)
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
I think that it would be actually a good thing if they imposed limitations on racket technology, like restricting string technologies to one or two types, and placing a limit on the types of rackets. But only for the reason so that traditions can be maintained, and even further, so that different eras can be compared. Like baseball, essentially, where they are very restrictive about the types of bats and balls used, but still leaving some flexibility about the playing field, with the uniqueness of each stadium.

Why I dont think it'll be changed: Racket, string, and ball sales are some of the biggest money draws in tennis. And you can't deny that players of this game enjoy experimenting and trying to get an edge, so they're willing to spend their hard earned money on tennis equipment.

It's already too late in my opinion. Traditions have been razed to the ground time and time again, in favor of the new and shiny. :\ Now, it's simply better for the game that sales bring in more money, to fund events and keep sponsors/manufacturers interested in the sport. You cant really deny that one of the biggest differences between tennis and other racket sports is that tennis allows a lot more customization and tinkering, great for rich DOODS who love to tinker with stuff.
 
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