This summer, a few events will allow something new. If a player is in a bind, or is just lonely, perhaps, they can call for on-court coaching. The powers that be theorize that this will make tennis more interesting.
The ATP and WTA has some very interesting ideas about how to boost interest. First, throwing in a ‘super tiebreak’ in place of a third set in doubles, because why on earth would a tennis fan want to see more tennis in a match? After two sets, it’s boring as hell, the TPTB seems to think. Let’s wrap this up.
And now this on-court coaching nonsense. What’s more interesting to watch?:
Scenario A: A player is down a set and a break, and lumbers over to his chair at changeover. He buries his head in his towel, and realizes that he has to try to draw his opponent to the net. He employs this strategy, and bam! he’s tied the match up.
Scenario B: A player is down a set and a break, and lumbers over to his chair at changeover. He tells the umpire he needs his coach, stat! and some balding fat guy comes running down and tells him to watch the ball and move his feet, and to pick on his opponent’s backhand, and to get into net and to put away the overheads and above all, to stay positive. The player goes out on the court, and can't remember anything his coach just said. Moreover, he realizes that he never even got anything to drink.
Scenario C: A player is down a set and a break, and lumbers over to his chair at changeover. He tells the umpire he needs his coach, stat! and some balding fat guy with a temper (channeling Maria Sharapova's dad here for some reason) who begins raging at his guy, with mikes on, and making derogatory comments about his guy's opponent, and throws in some helpful advice about beating him. Well, the opponent can hear it, too. Oops.
For crying out loud, tennis fans like tennis. They like the scoring and they like the gladiator-like atmosphere. We don’t want to see players getting Cliff-notes from their coach. Part of the great thing about tennis is that you’re on your own, and if you can’t see the game unfolding before your own eyes, then it’s your problem. And what’s so interesting about seeing a coach and a player conferring on the sideline? How will that make tennis more exciting? It’s a part of Davis Cup and World Team Tennis, but have you noticed that when the coaching begins, networks go to commercial? There’s a reason for that.
The tennis bigwigs, as usual, seems to have this all wrong. It looks it’s trying to glean elements of more popular sports in order to draw the masses. The truth is that tennis will never be football in America. Changing the rules won’t make it so, either. If you’re not a fan, you’re not a fan.
The ATP and WTA should be working together to shorten the season, so that the top players will play more often. That seems to be the outstanding issue where tennis popularity is concerned.