Stanford

So here we are again, the beginning of the USO Series. The time of the year when fans of tennis in North America and elsewhere suffer at the hands of tournament directors and television networks by being deprived of watching live tennis on the internet, or indeed on the expensive cable channels for which they pay. All for the privilege of not getting any tennis on tv.

This is especially so for the women.

This week we have a number of tournaments being played. For the men we have Gstaad and Umag, both on clay and Los Angeles on hard courts. For the women we have Stanford and Istanbul. Both tournaments are being played on hard courts.

Stanford has a bigger and stronger field than Istanbul. The field in Stanford includes Stosur, Dementieva, Sharapova, Ivanovic, Radwanska, Peer and many other notables in the field of women’s tennis. In Istanbul we have Larsson, Schynder, Kvitova, Petkovic and a whole host of other players ranked outside the top 20. The difference between both fields is not in the fact that there big name players at one event and not so much big names in Istanbul. It is the coverage.

From the first ball was struck in Istanbul, fans of women’s tennis could actually get to watch ball by ball play. There was also excellent commentary from the first ball was struck until close of play. We even got to see doubles. Doubles at what is really a Tier IV event.

Stanford on the other hand. Not even radio tennis. Not even radio coverage. This is the beginning of the Olympus USO Series and not even as much as radio tennis coverage you can get. Why you ask? Well, bloggers who are on the ground have informed us that there is actually live streaming of the event, but it would seem as if the organisers have decided that fans who live in Timbuktu, or even closer Russia, or even Serbia or Poland and who are fans of the players who are playing in Stanford may not actually want to see their players play.

What the organisers have done is provide a live stream of the event to the media personnel who are currently on the ground providing coverage. Apart from Forty Deuce and Global Village Tennis News, I have not read any news accounts about what is happening in Stanford. Chris Oddo from On the Baseline has provided some blogging but they have been centered around individual players.

Forty Deuce and Global Village have been doing a terrific job in providing live match scoring commentary via twitter. Is this the level to which the WTA has allowed women’s tennis to wallow. Fans should check out twitter or look at the scoreboard to see who is winning and who is losing.

For years Stanford had a live stream that was 300 feet from the court, had no commentary and barely any sound but fans appreciated it every year until we got tv coverage. This year nothing. Stanford is a well attended event as Californians love their tennis. There is no reason why the event should not be livestreamed until it is available on television. As it is by the time Friday rolls around, we would be lucky if most of the marquee names have not already been sent home and all we are left with would be a list of players similar to those playing in Istanbul. That might not be a bad thing.

US Open Series

Hello fans of tennis. It is that time of year again when the women of the WTA begin competing in the US Open Series, culminating in the last major of the year, the US Open.

To those who do not know, the USO Series is a series of events during the US hard court season which traverses the United States. There are usually 4 events, Stanford, Los Angeles, Cincinatti and Toronto/Montreal. The winner of the USO Series gets US$1M and if said winner wins both the USO Series and the US Open, they are guaranteed to double their prize money. Financially it is an incentive to players to play these events. The problem though is that these events happen at the tough end of the tennis season and it usually finds the top players all banged up and bruised. Withdrawals are a part of this time of the season.

In checking the preliminary tv schedules for both Tennis Channel and ESPN, we find that most of the events that feature the women will start airing at the quarter final stage. I believe the same will obtain for the men, save and except for their Masters Series events in Montreal and Cincinatti.

I am aware that there is not a lot of sponsorship going on right now in tennis, and usually when tennis gets to the States for some reason that is when all live streams on the internet go dark. Someone needs to tell tournament directors that whether they live stream their events or not, if people want to come to these events they will come regardless. Nobody likes sitting in front of a computer screen watching tennis, but for those of us who do not reside in the US, would it kill these people to provide live streams for those of us outside the US?

This week, (16 July) I have been fortunate to watch some matches in places like Portoroz (Slovenia Open) and Bad Gastein. Bad Gastein is a clay court event and while I was quite happy to watch the live stream, my experience was not pleasant as the camera angles were set in such a way that it made for poor viewing. Portoroz was a very good event and I now have a new fave in Polono Hercog.

One thing that I noticed from those 2 events that I have been watching this week is the lack of grunting/screaming. However, would it kill the announcers to stop referring to these grown women as girls. I cannot recall hearing the men being described as boys. It kind of galls me to hear them talking about married women who are currently on Tour and playing as girls.

There are some intriguing story lines coming up during this summer hard court season and I will have a post about that showing my list contenders and floaters.