There I was watching a match between Simona Halep and Caroline Garcia, a match to which I already knew the result but as I had not stayed up to watch the match, and because I like to watch both women play, I took the opportunity to watch the match to see if Halep had recovered from her injury in Brisbane and whether Garcia had learned anything from her play in Hopman Cup. I am still thinking about those questions.
What struck me though while watching the match was listening to the commentary during the match. There wasn’t anything being said that I had not heard before but I thought to myself while Halep was receiving treatment on her leg, whether an on court interview with Garcia would not have been been something for the commentary team to do at this point. It was the end of the second set, Garcia had just won it and her opponent seemed to be suffering the effects of a injury.
I know most of you are thinking, are you mad, but bear with me for a minute, what if, there was a way to draw the casual fan into the sport of tennis, would it be such a bad thing to have the commentator come over and interview Garcia about the fact she was able to take a set off the No. 2 player in the world and how does she feel going into a third set, or perhaps interview Halep and ask her about the injury that is being worked on and if she thinks it will affect her in the third set?
I know that ESPN’s adventure into interviewing players during a match met with a chorus of nos (even from me), but I thought to myself, if we as fans could bring something to tennis that would draw in the casual fan, what would it be. The responses were interesting.
Tennis fans speak
I am not that big a fan of the doubles game, only watching when Venus and Serena are playing, but I think it would be a really good way of promoting the team aspect of tennis and perhaps getting more casual fans to see how exciting tennis can be when played with a partner. In addition to showing more doubles, one of my tennis buddies thought getting rid of John McEnroe might be the way to go, that and silencing the sport, while someone else felt that grunting should be banned. I am going to assume that when hard core fans speak about grunting then they are referring to both the men and women.
Another fan was of the view that the time between sets could be extended to take account of injuries and give players a chance to speak with their coaches etc. While I am not against the extended time between sets, the issue of players getting cold and the need to possibly have a warm up to commence the next few sets might make this a bit unwieldy.
For years Martina Navratilova has been advocating for the removal of the let serve. This tennis fan thinks we should go a bit further and get rid of the second serve altogether. I don’t mind this idea at all. It is either get rid of the second serve (I mean who needs 2 chances to get their lives together) or remove the time between first and second serves.
For years, tennis surfaces were quick. Wimbledon was the home of the big servers. Hard courts were quick and clay was slow. Now, with all surfaces playing relatively the same way, there is a lack of variety in the sport these days. The diversity is so very lacking that you can’t tell one player different from another, especially on the men’s side. I suspect if Indian Wells and Miami started playing like hard court tournaments and not like pat of the Road to Roland Garros, that might be a first step.
While writing this I am watching AO qualifying and one of the things that the commentators are doing is reading tweets from fans who are making suggestions as to who either Vanni or Evans could win their first round qualifying match. I think that is a very good way of involving fans into the sport, whether casual or hard core. People always want to get their opinions out and how many times have we been watching a match and someone in the stands is shouting coaching advice to players. Make that a part of every tennis match. Many times you are watching a match and their is an on court coaching session and no one has any idea what is being said. How about getting fans to do the translation. If you know what was said, tweet to the commentators and commentators will read your tweet or if it is on Tennis Channel or ESPN, they can put your tweet on the crawl at the bottom of the screen.
Another thing that could be done is umpires would give a short explanation when certain decisions were made in a match. Who can forget the hindrance call to end all hindrance calls. Have the umpire take to the microphone and inform fans of the reason for the hindrance, citing the section of the rule book to which the hindrance applies. It will give people a chance to understand why certain decisions have been made.
How about changing the scoring in tennis? Many times I am being asked by casual fans why is the tennis scored like that. I have to admit that I sometimes can’t answer that question, but why not have it be 15, 30, 45, game.
What change would you bring to tennis to get the casual fans to the sport. Sound off in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.