Hope this hasn't been posted yet, more Disney Adventures:
Is tennis without character?
Wed, 01 Nov 2006
Tennis bosses need to do a better job of developing characters in order to safeguard the future of the sport, according to ATP chief Etienne De Villiers.
De Villiers walked into a storm at the Paris Masters this week after the top three players in the world all pulled out, including world number one Roger Federer.
Those withdrawals left the Paris tournament short of star names and he wants to create more characters in the sport who can carry a tournament on the strength of their personality.
"We need to tell a better story of tennis. We need to build tournaments that tell a better story," said the South African.
"We need more characters, players who people care about.
"Once we have that we will be more successful at the top and the better the halo effect will be on our smaller tournaments."
Since the 1970s and 1980s, men's tennis has often been seen as suffering from a lack of warmth and, as a result, there have been fewer and fewer marketable stars emerging.
That is something De Villiers wants to change, as well as restructuring the tennis calendar to ensure the best players turn up to the biggest tournaments — something that has not happened in Paris for the last two years.
On Monday the crowd figures reflected the disenchantment.
The 13 000-capacity Bercy arena was barely a third full throughout the day. "What we need to do with our marketing and television efforts is focus the media and fans on our biggest tournaments," added the ATP chief.
"What we've never done in tennis is give the fans what they want, so we're doing a lot of research now.
"And that is focussing on dressing up the tennis product to make it more attractive to the public.
"The tournaments are the body of tennis but it needs soul and the players are its soul.
"As a sport we have done a lousy job of developing characters. It was easier in the past to be a character, but now it's a lot harder to get some awareness like (Jimmy) Connors and (John) McEnroe."
Certain players like Federer or Rafael Nadal are crowd pleasers, partly through their own success and partly through their growing rivalry.
But that has left a vacuum behind them, meaning that without them many events loses a large amount of their appeal.
But De Villiers believes that can be changed.
"We need to identify 12-15 guys and say: 'How are we going to manage them?"
Makes the tour sound like a tv show
- but what do you think?