Monday, August 04, 2008

Just like tennis ... except not

From the news wires:
LOS ANGELES -- Alex Bogomolov beat Phillip King by a point Sunday to win the Shotgun 21 World Tennis Championships, a tournament believed to be the first involving ranked men and women going head to head.
Jill Craybas was the only woman to defeat a man in the tournament, beating retired pro Alexander Reichel 21-16.
Bogomolov, recently ranked 198th in the world, won $10,000 at the event organized by tennis promoter Steve Bellamy.
The one-day competition in suburban Pacific Palisades came with several big rules changes: no overhand serve, second serves or lets. All serving was drop-hit and struck from below the waist. The format was similar to table tennis, with the winner being the first to reach 21 points and each player serving five points before service alternates.

Got it, Steve Bellamy. So for men and women to play each other in tennis competitively, you have to change the rules? Here's his answer: “Women traditionally keep the ball in play longer and are very solid off the ground. “So you take the serve out of the equation, and you really have a leveling of the playing field."
Apparently, an entirely different game from tennis must be played to make sure a woman can compete. Also, monkeys.
According to the Shotgun 21 Web site, here are the rules o' "the game":

Shotgun 21 is a game played on a traditional tennis court, but scored and orchestrated more like ping pong than tennis.
Each player takes turn drop hitting 5 serves in a row to the deuce court and then each player takes turns drop hitting 5 serves to the ad court. This rotation continues until one player reach 21. At 20 all, the player up in rotation feeds the last point.
A feed is considered “in” if it goes anywhere on side of the court that the feeder is serving in singles and anywhere on the side of the court the feeder is serving to plus the alley in doubles. On a traditionally painted tennis court on the back part of the court where the hash mark and the center service have a space (center of the backcourt,) players must decide whether it was on appropriate side by estimating where the line would be carried through from the center hash mark to the center service box line.
Servers must strike the ball with their racket hand above the point of contact.
Rallies – approximately 40% of the points in traditional tennis are lost on the serve or the return. So basically half the points in tennis are over before they start. For the remaining 60% of the points, the server often starts out at an advantage. In the Shotgun 21 format, an overwhelming large amount of points allow both players to push themselves and each other to get great rallies.

Wow. The tension during these "matches" must have been unbearable. Ooh, Tommy Haas. That drop serve was suh-WEET!
Seriously, were none of the women involved in this thing insulted in the least? Didn't Craybas, Alexandra Stevenson or Ashley Harkleroad ask themselves "What would BJK (Billie Jean King) do?" Or were they fine with the idea that you have to play kiddie ball to play with the boys in order to have a chance? The worst part is, of course, that a man still won the thing.
Although Craybas should be glad she was able to outbounce a former pro male player. Kudos!


Anonymous said...

I don't see what you're deal is. Obviously women aren't equal to men athletically it's just a biological fact. What counts is what's upstairs anyway. And the guy billie jean king beat was like 60 years old.

Naf said...

Yo, Anonymous!
Here's my deal: True, women are not biologically equal to men. It even makes sense to somehow equalize the serve. If you do that, you still have tennis. It's like these organizers thought to give a woman a chance, they'd have to play ping-pong on a tennis court. That's what bugs me. And if they thought, as you do, that what's upstairs counts, they would have had a tennis tournament, not whatever they want to call this. Other than all that, Shotgun 21 is awesome and worthy of any grade-school playground.
Am also aware of the fact Bobby Riggs was old. He beat up on Margaret Court first, which was why it was cool then that King took him down.

van said...

I guess if you were to look at the whole thing, why even do it? If you're not playing on equal ground with the same rules, then what's the point?

Naf said...

That's true, too, Van. It's hard for me to understand who'd put down money to see this. If it was advertised as a unisex tennis tournament, maybe the ladies should have to deal with a man's serve. Just false advertising.