What is to be Done?
By Kim Shanley
The TennisONE Community
After eleven months of non-stop competition, the tennis season
is finally over. Australia beat Spain to win the Davis Cup title.
Did anyone see it? Did anyone care? In an earlier newsletter
the Green World) that sparked a flurry of emails I asked,
"How can tennis build its brand and recapture the magic
that seems to have deserted it?" If the Davis Cup competition
is supposed to be important to tennis, why didn't they promote
and televise the final round of competition? Isn't the final
match of soccer's World Cup always televised?
Once again, I'm struck by the weird ways the tennis industry
markets and promotes the sport. So even though tennis doesn't
seem to have a season, let's say it's over. Time to step back
and think bigger thoughts about how to take the game to another
level. I've made some suggestions along the way, as have many
Now it's time to hear from the most thoughtful and passionate
members of the TennisOne community. TennisOne will publish the
best five submittals on how to take the game to another level.
What do I mean by this? Am I talking about the professional level,
amateur level, coaching, what? I'm not going to restrict the
topic, as different people see the need for action in different
areas. However, I would like to encourage people to outline not
only what should be done, but the pragmatic steps that should
be taken to implement their recommended change. To get people
warmed up, here's a top ten list of ideas I've seen proposed:
- Break professional tennis into two different seasons, one
individual, one team (Billie Jean King's idea). The individual
tennis season should begin in March with the Australian Open
and last until early September with the US Open. A season
ends with a big bang (like the World Series) and has a defined
outcome (World Champion). A season is drama, and a drama needs
a final act. If the Masters Cup and the Davis Cup in November
are supposed to be the final act, well, this isn't drama. After
the individual season, there would be a six week season for the
Davis and Fed Cup competition and a little fun team tennis. Then
let the players have 3-4 months off to recover.
- Consolidate all the governing bodies of the tennis world
under one, all-powerful tennis commissioner, similar to what
the NBA, NFL, and baseball have done. The tennis czar would make
sure the game is marketed and promoted in a way that attracts
the most fans and participants. And maybe look outside the tennis
world for this czar, someone with a successful track record in
promoting another sport. Easy to say, but how could such a change
- The tennis powers that be should decide what's important,
the race for Number One, Grand Slam championships, Davis and
Fed Cup, what? Once they've decided what competition they want
fans to focus on, market and promote it properly (create the
drama of the race!). Would any self-respecting sport tolerate
the type of television coverage given tennis? Would, for example,
the NBA allow the TV broadcasters to skip over the second quarter
of an NBA finals game like I've seen television skip over most
of a set in a Grand Slam final?
- Change the rules of the game. Perhaps allow coaching on court
like they do for Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches. This might help
bring more personality into a game.
- Change the equipment or venue to increase the game's excitement.
People like McEnroe and Navratilova cite how the professional
baseball (designated hitter and night games at the World Series)
and basketball (3-point line) have changed the rules to make
their games more interesting and accessible to fans. Why not
tennis? Why not, for example, change the size of the racquet
heads or return to wood racquets to eliminate boring serving
contests and robotic baseline rallies and encourage all-court
play? I even made the heretical suggestion we should return more
of the professional tour (not at the amateur level) to playing
on grass. More natural, more authentic, more fun (more Wimbledon).
Baseball restored the authenticity of its brand with these type
of changes. Why not tennis?
- More money and attention spent on building the game at the
grass roots level rather than at the professional level. Particular
attention to be paid to recruiting the disadvantaged who can't
afford expensive equipment and lessons.
- Change the way young players are coached and trained, so
that they continue to improve and remain involved in the sport,
rather than becoming bored or discouraged.
- Let fans scream and yell during the competition like every
other sport. They do it (sometimes) during Davis and Fed Cup
matches, why not the whole season?
- Call for a constitutional convention for tennis to implement
some or all of these changes. When the U.S. founding fathers
recognized that their first government (Articles of Confederation)
was failing , they sent representatives from each state to a
Philadelphia convention whose mission was to reform the government.
What came out of the convention was not reform, but a new government
and one of the greatest political documents of all time: the
U.S. Constitution. They call it the Miracle at Philadelphia.
Some people say it would take a miracle to reform tennis. There
- Do nothing. People like to watch tennis all-year round, and
who cares if the sport gets more popular. The fewer people who
play, the easier it is to make a court reservation.
It's up to you now. What is to be done?
As always, I would love to hear your views on the subjects
raised in this newsletter. Please click
here to send your email directly to me.
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here for the details.
Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Volleys" by Jack
Who are the the greatest vollyers in the game? You know, the
ones with the quick skidding crosscourt angle backhands that
practically roll when they hit the court and the forehand bunts
that land inside the baseline then jump off the court. So, what
sets these guys apart from the pack? Jack Broudy will tell you
the who and the why.
Essentials of Shot Making," by Feisal
Ready position. Backswing. Contact point. These are the stroke
components that have been drilled into us when taking tennis
lessons. Important components, yes. But, what are the true essentials
of shot making? Feisal Hassan believes that seeing, moving, maintaining
balance, and controlling the racquet head are the real fundamentals.
Core Strength in Tennis Players," by Dr. Donald
Everyone's searching for that tennis fitness edge? If you
are making progress, but it doesnt seem to be quickly enough,
plyometric exercises may be the answer. Trunk strength is the
foundation of sports performance, it directly affects all movement.
Dr. Donald Chu shows you how plyometric exercises can improve
your core strength and your tennis game.
Exclusively on TennisONE
Daniela Hantuchova - Groundstrokes
Hantuchova exploded on to the tennis scene at Indian Wells
when she became the lowest seed to win a tier one event. Since
then she's garnered more notoriety for her weight, or lack of
it, then anything she's accomplished on the court. Still, her
groundstrokes are solid and she can hit with power and touch.
A good model to learn from.