US Open Series

Well, well, well. Now how about that. Things have changed considerably since I started writing this blog and publishing it in all parts of the internet. Even though I do not have anyone leaving comments, I can say that it would seem as if people are reading it as I have had persons emailing me to let me know that they appreciate the work that I am doing as regards airing fans’ grouses about the lack of coverage of tennis on tv, especially during this so-called Greatest Road Trip in Sports.

I note that online streams have become available from the very first day of the Rogers Cup, and I was quite happy to listen to the beautiful French language being spoken as commentary. I cannot say that I understand the commentary but as tennis fans, all we really want to see is the tennis.

I will not stop writing this blog until Tennis Channel gets its act together and stop joining womens’ tournaments at the tail end of the tournament. The men started in Cincy on Monday 17 August and today, 18 August they had a full day’s coverage of tennis. Tomorrow will be even more coverage as they have the so-called big dogs of the ATP coming out to play tomorrow.

On the women’s side we have the big dogs coming out as well as Serena, Dinara, Jelena, Sharapova and a whole host of other top women will begin their campaign tomorrow.

Let us all hope for some good tennis and even better commentators.

When did Women’s Tennis take a Backseat

Yesterday was supposed to be the third day of my rant against the networks and I had planned to headline that article – It is not the Destination, tis the journey. That line may sound really nice, but I have to confess that I took it from Tennis Channels’ commercial of the USO Series. Yes, it is the destination, not the journey, so in that sense it would have been nice to see tournaments from the begining and not at the quarter-final stages, but there you go.

However, I had to take a 360 degree turn when this morning while thinking to myself as to whether I was fighting a losing battle, I had occasion to visit Steve Tignor’s blog over at tennis.com. He had written an article about Kim Clijsters’ return to the Tour. Lo and behold he had referenced an article from Time magazine, circa 2001 when women’s tennis was the queen of tennis. I am providing a link to the article, because you just cannot make this stuff up. In 2001, women’s tennis was enjoyed by 75% of people who watched tennis or who visited tennis tournaments. Yes, 75% of persons who were asked said that they preferred women’s tennis to men’s tennis. This was at a time when Gustavo Kuerten was apparently the No. 1 player in the world. I dont know what else I can add to this whole scenario of how womens’ tennis is now getting short shrift, but I will close today by linking the article and hope that everyone realises what has happened to the dream of Billie Jean King and other women who fought so hard for women’s tennis.

http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101010903/cover.html

Cincy Tennis – Did you see it and how was it?

Today is Day 2 of my war against the networks regarding the lack of coverage of tennis, and in particular women’s tennis. Overnight I sat down and I thought about this some more and I came up with a brilliant idea. Why dont the women of the WTA come together and start their own network. A network that showcases womens‘ tennis. Look, the ATP has ATP Masters Series Tv. Now I dont know whether with the advent of tennistv whether ATP TV is still around as I never subscribed to the thing, as guess what, Tennis Channel would inevitably be showing all these Masters Series Events, especially the ones from Europe. So, the thought crossed my mind, why dont the women of the WTA come together and have a television channel all their own. OK, so you say that this may be a bit far fetched, but listen to this. How did the WTA start? It started because people like Billie Jean King and Rosie Cassals had a vision and they decided to turn that vision into reality. They felt that female tennis player deserved a slice of the tournament pie. They felt that they should be paid for their services just as the men were being paid. What started as a protest against the establishment (men) became what is now known today as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The last time I looked I understand that with the advent of Roadmap, as well as all the sponsorships coming in for tournaments etc, the WTA is now cash rich.

We have been hearing for years about growing the sport. The USTA has done a whole lot to try and develop future champions, but without an audience watching these champions, they will surely be turned off.

Last night saw the comeback of one of the most popular players on tour after a 2 year absence. Kim Clijsters was really never my favourite player but I can see how she was popular with tennis fans back then. For months all we could hear was how with the return of Kim how it would generate additional interest in the Tour etc. Well, she came back last night and won her match and 99% of tennis fans, including fans in her native Belgium and all her worldwide fans were left to watch a scoreboard and try and figure out what the hail was going on in Cincy, because guess what, this much anticipated match was not televised. This morning when I check all the sports sites you get all these write ups about the match. What good does it do to fans to have to read about a match when we could have sat in our living rooms and watched it, or better yet, sat at our computers and watched a grainy stream of this match. In the meantime, I visited sites and observed fans watching a match against Gilles Simon and Frank Dancevic on a live stream in Montreal. I tell you there is just something that smells rotten in this whole scenario.

Anyway, heres hoping that the women of the WTA will wake up and realise that their profession is being relegated to the back burners of prime time and unless your name is Williams or Sharapova you do not stand much chance of making it to the silver screen.

Lack of tennis coverage

OK, I know that there are hundreds of tennis blogs around, but this one is going to be very different. This one is about waking up the powers that be to the fact that there is absolutely no tennis on tv.
I am an avid tennis watcher. I play the game. I log on to message boards and post my opinions. I pose questions to question and answer forums and a lot of people know me because of my writing on other people’s blogs. However, one thing that struck me recently was how many fans in the United States and other parts of North America (Canada) as well as those of us in the Caribbean (where I am from) who rely on North American networks for our daily tennis fix, are unable to watch matches. Separate and apart from calling out the powers that be for their lack of coverage, I will be offering suggestions as to how we can get tennis to the fans.

First of all, we are now in the season called the USO Series. That is the US Open Series. This is supposed to be a slew of tournaments which starts the North American hardcourt swing and ends at the US Open. The Series starts with a women’ s event at Stanford called the Bank of the West Classic, then went to LA and then onwards to Cincinnatti, then Toronto, New Haven and finally New York. The men’s events started in LA, moved on to Washington, D.C., then to Montreal, Cincinnatti, New Haven and finally ends in New York.

Now you would think that with all these tournaments all over North America folks would finally get to see some tennis. That would be too easy. The only tennis we saw were selected matches from the quarter finals onwards of all tournaments played to date. In addition, unless the players were American, or Sharapova, then you never got a chance to see other players. Anyway, for tennis fans, they will watch 2 dogs playing tennis to no tennis at all.

Today, 10 August is the start of a Masters Series event for the men in Montreal and a Mandatory event in Cincinnatti for the women. Lo and behold, the only tennis you get to see is via live streams, a phenomenom that I will address later in this post.

It is absolutely ridiculous that we have Tennis Channel, ESPN (along with every variation thereof) and we still cannot get tennis on tvs in North America. The Tennis Channel was recently inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame for its contribution to the growth of tennis. I am not sure that that induction was worthy as recently all we have seen are repeats of Murphy’s Guide and Mika jetting around on Destination Tennis. These days Tennis Channel advertises itself as the Grand Slam network, but the only grand slams you see are Grand Slams from the 70s. Prior to whatever contractual considerations between Tennis Channel and their broadcast partners, the coverage of the Grand Slams was second to none. These days, for those of us who actually have jobs and who look forward to seeing repeats of matches played in the day, you will be out of luck these days, as it would seem that if the match was not shown on Tennis Channel, then they apparently cannot show a repeat.

Live Streams – I visit many blogs on the internet. One of the requests that you hear on every single blog devoted to tennis, and this is coming from folks in North America, the Caribbean and many other countries is this “anyone have a link?”. Now I am a Dish Network subscriber in the Caribbean. I installed a second dish just to be able to get 1 single channel, the Tennis Channel. Imagine my dismay now when I hardly get to see any tennis on my HDTV or really enjoy tennis as hardly any tennis is on the tv.

Now, I am not about laying blame without making suggestions. Is it possible that CBS, NBC, ESPN and Tennis Channel could come together and have a highlight show during tournament play. Clearly, there is some form of financial consideration which prevents Tennis Channel from providing round the clock coverage of events that are being played. In this time of cut backs, I can understand that. However, what I cannot understand is why is it that there are countries in Europe who are able to see the current Masters Series event in Montreal on their tv, as well as coverage of Cincinnatti and people in the United States are unable to see it. This is after all the USO Series. We are told that every single time that the powers that be decide to show a match. If only we fans could see it then we would not think it is a figment of our imaginations.