It’s Time for Change in Tennis
Tennis is the oldest of the mainstream sports being played today. Originating in the cloisters of ancient monasteries, tennis has been an entertaining sport for players and spectators alike for many centuries. However, this does not mean that all is well in the sport. Like everything else tennis needs to evolve, and these are some of the changes we’d like to see introduced to the sport.
The top brass of the WTA and ATP Tours are evidently unacquainted with the phrase ‘sometimes less is more’. As the years pass, the world’s top players are being exposed to an ever more densely packed season schedule.
This has two effects on the game. Firstly players become more prone to injury and burnout, and secondly, the season becomes saturated with tennis of a lower quality. The tournaments at the end of the season are particularly vulnerable to becoming shams, decided by injuries to key players rather than individual skill.
Smaller tennis tournaments mainly serve to clog the tennis season and provide easy money to the few high ranked players, who make their way to these meaningless events to feed off the ineptitude of lower ranked players.
Instead of diluting the quality of bigger tournaments, whilst creating mismatches at smaller events, the ITF could consider setting up a tennis league system, with each league contesting a specific set of tournaments. The Grand Slams would remain ‘opens’, giving lower league players the opportunity to take on the best in the world.
At the conclusion of each season, the top ranked players in the ‘B’ league could be promoted to the next level of competition, whilst those players lurking at the bottom of their specific league rankings, would be relegated to a lower league.
Tennis racquet technology has been evolving rapidly over the past hundred years. Today’s wide-head, shock absorbent rocket launchers bear only a vague visual resemblance to the wood and catgut racquets that players used until the 1970s.
Whilst racquet evolution is part and parcel of technological progress, it has to stop somewhere, and with only a few specific limitations currently set on racquet design by the ITF, the day may soon come where over 70% of all points scored in matches come from aces blasted out of space age racquets.
A great deal of work has been done to bring women’s tennis in line with men’s tennis, with the result that women’s tennis has easily become the most popular mainstream sport played by females. Furthermore women tennis players have successfully campaigned to have their prize purses brought in line with those paid out in the men’s games.
While the women’s game has certainly progressed during the past half century, one of the most anachronistic aspects of the game remains firmly in place – the 3-set rule. Whilst men’s grand slam tennis often provides the spectacle of thrilling 5 set matches, many of the most important women’s tournaments are decided in the space of two sets.
This not only means that a smaller margin for error is built into women’s matches at major tournaments, but also that stamina and the ability to fight-back from deficits plays a far less significant role in women’s tennis, thereby ensuring that it always remains a step behind men’s tennis in the popularity stakes.
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