New news articles about the doubles stuff (London Times and Houston Chronicle) [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

New news articles about the doubles stuff (London Times and Houston Chronicle)

Deboogle!.
10-14-2005, 10:27 PM
Thought this was interesting and the other threads were buried somewhere...
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De Villiers hopes feud will produce new doubles vision

By Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent

STEFFI and Andre are doing it in Boise, Idaho, in December — for Andre’s Charitable Foundation — Satoshi Iwabuchi and Takao Suzuki were the pride of Tokyo for winning the Japan Open at it last weekend, Andy Murray’s first Davis Cup appearance was at it and Martina Navratilova will probably keep doing it until she is 70. Ninety per cent of occasional tennis players do it more than anything else.

So why has playing doubles gone from tennis’s stepchild to its abandoned child, to use one of the descriptions of the ATP’s decision to tinker it out of existence. Is doubles to fall victim to the great god of TV, which dictates every professional tennis schedule, and to singles-minded tournament directors who see it as a drain on the resources they would rather save for the stars? Or can it be reembraced, integrity intact, as a vital part of the pro tour?

Its finest exponents trip from the tongue — Fleming and McEnroe, Hewitt and McMillan, the Woodies, Navratilova and Shriver, King and Casals, Fernandez and Zvereva. All of these are grand-slam title-holders, only five of them in singles. They have earned their place in the halls of excellence through an expertise that leads to a cherished, shared experience.

The debate about the future of doubles first flourished when the ATP, the men’s governing body, decided to experiment with a change in scoring for three weeks of tournaments after the US Open. It would reduce sets to five games rather than six, with a tie-break at 4-4.

Additionally, it was proposed that, by 2008, only the top six doubles “teams” would be permitted entry into tournaments, denying lower-ranked doubles players access if they did not qualify for singles draws. These were labelled as doubles “enhancements”, which really got the players’ goat.

In response, 45 players (with more lending moral support) dropped a lawsuit on the ATP’s lap — charging Mark Miles, the departing chief executive, and the six members of the board with antitrust violations and a breach of fiduciary duty in that the governing body would “enact rules that prevent doubles players from competing, contrary to the express wishes of the players”.

When, in retaliation, the Masters Series tournament in Madrid, which starts on Monday, decided unilaterally to drop its doubles competition, the waters were further muddied. The ATP insisted that an affiliated event could not contravene the rules and the 16-team event was readmitted, albeit grudgingly. “It is another episode where I am embarrassed to be a part of this tour,” Mark Knowles, from the Bahamas, who has twice finished the year as part of the No 1 doubles team, said. “It’s a circus.”

Knowles is an eloquent spokesman for the doubles cause, although the cynics will say that with more than £3 million in career prize-money from it, why wouldn’t he want its future assured? He is the very person to whom many tournament directors would rather not have to give a week’s board and lodging. “The decision taken by Madrid, although it has been reversed, is exactly what we’d forecast,” Knowles said. “These people have no regard for the history of doubles or respect for its specialists. This is all about money.”

The irony in the dilemma over doubles is that it has surfaced at a time when there is far too much stereotype in men’s tennis: macho baseline top spin, ferocious pounding of the ball, manic court coverage and, the inevitable consequence — injuries. Doubles enhances volleying, speed of thought at the net, feathery touch — a different emphasis to a sport that needs versatility to make it watchable.

The two sides in the conflict hope to meet before its protagonists alight in Spain for what could be an uncomfortable week. Etienne de Villiers had anticipated a full in-tray in his first weeks as the ATP’s new chairman, but not a burning issue such as this. “What I want to do is talk to these guys about implementing change in a measured way, because that is how problems are solved in business,” he says.

“Doubles is like water, it has to find its own level. We have to discover what will make it a more attractive proposition for everyone, because if you have a product that’s not desirable, obviously you have to improve it. The process the ATP went through before the current changes was not perfect. Equally, it is totally inappropriate to talk about removing doubles from the ATP Tour. But we have to make it better.”

Seeing scorelines such as 5-3, 5-4 makes the traditionalist’s heart sink. Everything about the present situation crushes Wayne Bryan, father of Mike and Bob, the No 1 pair in the world. If you wanted to find someone in the world to extol the virtues of tennis and especially doubles, he is the man, although his support for “The 45” could cost him his role as on-court announcer at certain tournaments.

“Let us put this whole sorry situation to bed,” he said. “There are enough people of good faith who want to settle this. My sons grew up loving doubles and it hurts them deeply to think that it is now considered a bad word.”

cobalt60
10-14-2005, 10:33 PM
"The irony in the dilemma over doubles is that it has surfaced at a time when there is far too much stereotype in men’s tennis: macho baseline top spin, ferocious pounding of the ball, manic court coverage and, the inevitable consequence — injuries. Doubles enhances volleying, speed of thought at the net, feathery touch — a different emphasis to a sport that needs versatility to make it watchable"

Irony indeed Deb. How about keeping the doubles intact as is and PR'ing it more and supporting it. Then lets see if it needs any changing.

Scotso
10-14-2005, 10:37 PM
It doesn't need changing, everyone knows that. Both sides know that the "changes" are just a prelude to gradual phasing out and then total elimination.

We, as fans, ultimately control the sport, and can't let that happen.

Deboogle!.
10-14-2005, 10:41 PM
"The irony in the dilemma over doubles is that it has surfaced at a time when there is far too much stereotype in men’s tennis: macho baseline top spin, ferocious pounding of the ball, manic court coverage and, the inevitable consequence — injuries. Doubles enhances volleying, speed of thought at the net, feathery touch — a different emphasis to a sport that needs versatility to make it watchable"

Irony indeed Deb. How about keeping the doubles intact as is and PR'ing it more and supporting it. Then lets see if it needs any changing.Yep, definitely ironic.

I agree with you both, it's just that it all comes down to money, and holding the doubles seems to be expensive and at this point they see it as not making enough to recoup their expenses on it I guess. A lot of tourneys lose money and stuff and then they get bought and sold all the time. So I mean I think on one hand it's important to keep an open mind to things that might help it work so that everyone can be happy but on the other hand, totally ruining the sport and basically admitting that they're moving towards phasing it out seems unnecessarily extreme, at least at this point. :(

Scotso
10-14-2005, 10:43 PM
Well maybe they could stop slipping top players a million dollars under the table to get them to play their nice little events, and then they could afford doubles and make a profit. ;)

cobalt60
10-14-2005, 10:45 PM
Well maybe they could stop slipping top players a million dollars under the table to get them to play their nice little events, and then they could afford doubles and make a profit. ;)
:yeah:

Deboogle!.
10-14-2005, 10:48 PM
Well maybe they could stop slipping top players a million dollars under the table to get them to play their nice little events, and then they could afford doubles and make a profit. ;)Yeah, that might help ;)

But, to be fair, the bigger events have financial problems too (IW is the one that comes to mind first), and they don't have the guarantees.

cobalt60
10-14-2005, 11:19 PM
I remember reading that one problem with IW is that it had such a huge mortgage as well as a high interest rate. They were trying to redo that rate last I heard. Shame since I heard IW was such a nice tournie. Thought about doing that next year. Have a couple of friends who will be going so it might be a nice vacation of tennis. My last vacations with tennis did not turn out exactly as I had planned :rolleyes:

Scotso
10-14-2005, 11:20 PM
What do you expect really with Indian Wells? It's in the middle of nowhere, in a totally expensive area... so how many fans are going to go each day? Not many. Plus the dust storms and crap. That event has been begging to be moved.

cobalt60
10-14-2005, 11:21 PM
What do you expect really with Indian Wells? It's in the middle of nowhere, in a totally expensive area... so how many fans are going to go each day? Not many. Plus the dust storms and crap. That event has been begging to be moved.
Well I guess you don't think it is a nice tournie :p

Lee
10-14-2005, 11:28 PM
I remember reading that one problem with IW is that it had such a huge mortgage as well as a high interest rate. They were trying to redo that rate last I heard. Shame since I heard IW was such a nice tournie. Thought about doing that next year. Have a couple of friends who will be going so it might be a nice vacation of tennis. My last vacations with tennis did not turn out exactly as I had planned :rolleyes:

Another problem with IW is the owner not yet find the full potential of the facilities. How can you make money with such immense facilities that are used only 2 weeks a year? Especially you have a huge mortgage on it. That's very poor planning in the beginning, no doubt.

Deboogle!.
10-14-2005, 11:29 PM
Well it's not the only Masters event that's losing money. it's just the most egregious example. I was just saying that the guarantees aren't the ONLY problem, but it's part of it, sure :)

Thing is, I doubt players like the Bryans play, at least in the US, the small events unless they get something. They're big enough stars to warrant it. I just feel like there ARE some doubles teams that ARE crowd draws and that if they were just promoted a little more and stuff that people would show up for doubles too. Need look no further than the TMS doubles the past 2 years - as I've said before, say what you will about Mattress Mack but he sold out a pretty nice-sized stadium for many doubles-only sessions. :)

Scotso
10-14-2005, 11:54 PM
Well it's not the only Masters event that's losing money. it's just the most egregious example. I was just saying that the guarantees aren't the ONLY problem, but it's part of it, sure :)

Thing is, I doubt players like the Bryans play, at least in the US, the small events unless they get something. They're big enough stars to warrant it. I just feel like there ARE some doubles teams that ARE crowd draws and that if they were just promoted a little more and stuff that people would show up for doubles too. Need look no further than the TMS doubles the past 2 years - as I've said before, say what you will about Mattress Mack but he sold out a pretty nice-sized stadium for many doubles-only sessions. :)

When I was in DC this year, Paul's doubles match was PACKED. I mean, it was on a small court but it was overflowing and people were looking in from the top of the grandstand court... and from the grassy area and such.

It just depends on like... who the players are and how well they put it out there. But I mean, you're always going to have Americans going to see Americans in doubles... so if a US tournament promoted the Bryans, people would fill the stands.

Scotso
10-14-2005, 11:54 PM
Well I guess you don't think it is a nice tournie :p

I like watching it on TV, but I wouldn't go there.

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 12:10 AM
When I was in DC this year, Paul's doubles match was PACKED. I mean, it was on a small court but it was overflowing and people were looking in from the top of the grandstand court... and from the grassy area and such.

It just depends on like... who the players are and how well they put it out there. But I mean, you're always going to have Americans going to see Americans in doubles... so if a US tournament promoted the Bryans, people would fill the stands.yes, I've had similar experiences, too (of course, Paul is from that area isn't he? so that might explain the EXTRA crowds you saw ;))

But in Houston a couple years ago when I went, people also packed the stands for people like Knowles and Nestor - because they came to the tourney year after year and the tourney promoted them by holding autograph signings and putting them on the "Show" practice court sometimes. I'm still convinced it takes fairly simple promotion to increase the crowds and exposure a lot, and no one has provided me anything in these past few months that would suggest to me that it wouldn't work.

as for IW, I hope to be able to carve out a day or a weekend when I can get some grounds passes and stuff next year, I'm willing to give it a try if I can fit it with all my crap.

cobalt60
10-15-2005, 12:24 AM
yes, I've had similar experiences, too (of course, Paul is from that area isn't he? so that might explain the EXTRA crowds you saw ;))

But in Houston a couple years ago when I went, people also packed the stands for people like Knowles and Nestor - because they came to the tourney year after year and the tourney promoted them by holding autograph signings and putting them on the "Show" practice court sometimes. I'm still convinced it takes fairly simple promotion to increase the crowds and exposure a lot, and no one has provided me anything in these past few months that would suggest to me that it wouldn't work.

as for IW, I hope to be able to carve out a day or a weekend when I can get some grounds passes and stuff next year, I'm willing to give it a try if I can fit it with all my crap.
How far away are you from IW Deb?

Scotso
10-15-2005, 12:25 AM
yes, I've had similar experiences, too (of course, Paul is from that area isn't he? so that might explain the EXTRA crowds you saw ;))

Yes, he's from DC... but I mean, I doubt the average person would know that if they didn't talk about it. I agree with you, it's all in the promotion. People will watch paint dry if you tell them that's the cool thing to do.

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 12:28 AM
How far away are you from IW Deb?i've been told LA is 1.5-2 hours away? never actually done the trip myself. And I'll only do it if I think I can swing the overnight stay and stuff. So it's not so bad :)

cobalt60
10-15-2005, 12:46 AM
i've been told LA is 1.5-2 hours away? never actually done the trip myself. And I'll only do it if I think I can swing the overnight stay and stuff. So it's not so bad :)
I will let you know if I go then. :D

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 01:00 AM
oh!! Definitely, please do :D

cobalt60
10-15-2005, 01:03 AM
Wasn't sure if you would see this on the andyoni thread --it is Ya'Alah!

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 03:11 PM
In today's Houston Chronicle. Mainly about the Barker Twins who were a great college team. I had the pleasure of going to school with them and graduating in their class and they were amazing so smart and everyone liked them, and had a ton of potential as a doubles pair (as a potential DC Team for Britain?? :p). The day the lawsuit was filed they announced their retirement from tennis - only b/c of the doubles changes.
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Barker twins fighting ATP's changes in doubles
By DALE ROBERTSON
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

When men's professional tennis opted to reinvent doubles, hoping to encourage its stars to participate in the increasingly arcane art and to save a few bucks en route, the law of intended consequences claimed Richard and William Barker straightaway.

For the Barker twins, once the pride of Rice University's tennis team, the handwriting was on the wall — in flashing Day-Glo neon. Further pursuit of their tennis goals, modest though they were, seemed pointless. They knew they weren't good enough to establish themselves as singles players on the tour, and doubles specialists appeared to be going the way of the dodo bird.

"We decided we didn't want to be involved in anything that had a terminal end," Richard Barker said. "Our sport was dying. We knew we needed to move on, to do something else with our lives. You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself. You have to be prepared. We're more fortunate than most (players). We have degrees from Rice to fall back on."

So, just like that, the Barkers retired little more than a year after they had turned professional, hoping to become the British Bryans (Bob and Mike), twin terrors in their own right. As collegians, they were good enough to win an NCAA championship while going undefeated on their home court for four years. The only match they lost at Hess Tennis Stadium was a three-set exhibition last fall to the Bryans, who then won their second Masters Cup.

But, as it happened, the Barkers quit only the sport, not the fight.

After being put in touch with a pair of racket-wielding Fulbright & Jaworski lawyers through a mutual friend, they wound up becoming the initial driving force for a class-action lawsuit intended to abort the ATP's plans to reinvent doubles. Filed in U.S. District Court in Houston during the first week of the U.S. Open, the suit contends the ATP has "unfairly changed the system to exclude doubles players in favor of singles players, upsetting long traditions in the sport."

The ATP argues, spokesman David Higdon said, that it's only trying to "grow the game" by streamlining doubles through radically rewriting the rules on all fronts.

"Rubbish," Richard Barker said. "We believe we have just cause to fight them on this. At first, we just accepted it. But, when we sat down and really thought about it, we knew it wasn't right."

Meeting of the minds
John Sullivan and David Mantor are the Fulbright & Jaworski attorneys. Both played college tennis at the University of Oklahoma and are their respective club champions, Sullivan at River Oaks Country Club and Mantor at Houston Country Club. They met for four hours in New York on Friday with the ATP's COO, Philip Galloway and its legal team. Nothing was resolved, but Sullivan remains hopeful the ATP will rethink its position, which has been roundly criticized by players and fans alike.

"All we're trying to do," Sullivan said, "is make sure these changes don't take root. And I think we're moving in the right direction. Today will at least, I think, lead to another meeting."

Wayne Bryan, the father of the twins who's known in Houston for being the master of ceremonies at major Westside Tennis Club ATP events, also has become involved in the cause, particularly through the Web site savedoubles.com. Bryan père has made himself a clearinghouse for written and spoken criticism of the controversial changes.

The controversy has boiled over in Madrid, where organizers of next week's Master Series tournament, strong supporters of the changes and angered by the suit, arbitrarily canceled the doubles competition. That put the ATP in the odd position of having to threaten the event with major sanctions even though it's the entity that's being sued.

The ATP's players' association has come out against the far-reaching modifications, which tournament directors — the major driving force behind the changes — claim will save them as much as $12 million a year in purses and amenities for players they contend don't help them sell tickets.

"Some of those guys despise doubles," Sullivan said. "Our feeling is they need to resign, and let's get some new blood in there, directors who are willing to creatively market the sport."

Unite or else
Mark Knowles, one of the most prominent doubles-only specialists, points out that the directors pushing for the new system have missed the boat for years by doing almost nothing to promote doubles.

"They haven't given themselves a chance to see if they can get a fair return," Knowles said.

Several top singles stars, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick included, said the new format wouldn't entice them to play more doubles. Who has the extra energy, after all? And, if anything, they might play less than they do, just as a show of solidarity with the doubles specialists.

"Our backs are against the wall," Mike Bryan said. "If we don't unite, there might not be a game of doubles."

Because the livelihoods of the Bryans, Knowles and Daniel Nestor, Kevin Ullyett, Wayne Black and others will be imperiled, the Barkers didn't have any problem selling the idea of the lawsuit to the more prominent tandems.

It was good therapy, too, making the sudden segue into real life less painful.

Tennis had, after all, consumed them since they were youngsters.

"It was a shock to the system," William Barker said. His brother said the ATP's announcement of the changes, which came while they were at Wimbledon playing for the first and apparently last time, "was a little painful ... very tough to swallow."

Whatever the outcome — if the case goes to trial — the Barkers' nipped-in-the-bud professional tennis careers are over.

William has begun his pursuit of a law degree at the University of Houston; Richard enrolled in grad school at Rice.

Their legacy?

But, if necessary, they would love to leave as their permanent tennis legacy a major victory in the courts, if not on the court.

"We're not suing for the money," William said. "We're doing this for one reason, so doubles players can play doubles. We can't let them get rid of our game."

Scotso
10-15-2005, 03:29 PM
That's a nice article :D

cobalt60
10-15-2005, 04:13 PM
Great article Deb- and I notice the twins are staying around Houston! Can't wait to see what happens. Wonder if there will be any PR of doubles at the last tournies? ;)

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 05:38 PM
The Barkers are lucky because they're even more brilliant off the court than on it. They both graduated from Rice with honors (something that is EXTREMELY difficult to do, take it from one who knows :p), so they have bright futures no matter what they end up doing - they have degrees and a great education to fall back on.

I think it shows a lot about them as people that they are the only really non-top players who are really involving themselves in this suit and at the forefront of the battle, I'm proud to have been classmates with them and happy I got to see them play tennis while we were there (even if what I saw was them trying to play singles :lol: ), even though I don't know them personally. But on the other hand, it's just so sad that at 24 or so, these guys feel that they have to retire because they think they won't be able to do what they so clearly love in a few years. They know they're not good enough to succeed in singles (And from what I saw in college I'd tend to agree), but as a team they have that "Twin thing" and I think could've done well.

It's too bad that the talks yesterday didn't seem to help. I hope they can reach some sort of agreement soon that both sides can at least agree upon - as a fan I'd be willing to put up with the scoring changes if they were to keep the rankings and tourney entries the same as they are now. There's just gotta be a way to compromise!

Scotso
10-15-2005, 08:23 PM
I don't really agree Deb, I'm not really willing to put up with any changes at all. I really feel like the doubles players have the upper hand. If he have to eventually compromise, okay... but for now they should just push for all.

alfonsojose
10-15-2005, 09:00 PM
Those scores 5-2,5-4(3) :sad: :fiery:

Deboogle!.
10-15-2005, 09:09 PM
I don't really agree Deb, I'm not really willing to put up with any changes at all. I really feel like the doubles players have the upper hand. If he have to eventually compromise, okay... but for now they should just push for all.Well I guess that was my point. It seems that at this point they're going to have to compromise. And I guess I'd just rather see them have to give up the scoring than the ranking/entry changes b/c I think those are worse. Obviously leaving it alone is ideal but it seems like that's probably not going to happen :(

nobama
10-15-2005, 09:29 PM
i've been told LA is 1.5-2 hours away? never actually done the trip myself. And I'll only do it if I think I can swing the overnight stay and stuff. So it's not so bad :)Indian Wells is very nice, albiet very expensive. All the cities around there - Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, are beautiful. The tennis stadium is really nice, I think the second largest in the USA, but I'm not sure what else it's used for other than the Pacific Life tournament.

cobalt60
10-16-2005, 01:35 AM
Indian Wells is very nice, albiet very expensive. All the cities around there - Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, are beautiful. The tennis stadium is really nice, I think the second largest in the USA, but I'm not sure what else it's used for other than the Pacific Life tournament.
:topic: Thanks I had heard that as well. I went to 3 tournies this year but won't do that ever again. And I had originally thought about a smaller tournie here in the states. The only problem I see with IW for me is that women's tennis is there as well ;) and it is a big tournie.