Wertheim's Cure for Tennis' Long Season

12-05-2005, 12:21 AM
Sounds pretty good to me.

We all make fun of Wal-Mart, but who doesn't like $19 DVD players? Where were we? Oh, right. The season is too long. I always cite this example but here goes: When the ATP moved the dates of the Indianapolis and Washington tournaments, it nearly ignited a riot and resulted in a legal battle. When the ATP announced doubles "enhancements," that, too, provoked all sorts of dissension and, yes, calls to the lawyers. In the grand scheme of things, the changes are minor. But with this as a backdrop, consider going to the promoters who own the fall events and saying, "Sorry, the season is too long -- we're lopping you off." The Tours would be bankrupted by legal fees alone.
One of you raised a good point, complaining that as much as anyone complains about the schedule, no one has a constructive solution. Here's mine:

• Play the big-ticket indoor events (Paris, Madrid for the men, Zurich and Moscow for the women) over two weeks, shortly after the U.S. Open.

• Hold the lower-tier events simultaneously so the players ranked 50-100 can earn some cash and the promoters in Basel, Stockholm and Bangkok aren't totally out in the cold.

• Give a few players waivers so, for instance, Roger Federer could play in Basel without penalty.

• Then, after a week of recovery, hold the Tour Championships simultaneously with an All-Star weekend component.

(I think you need a beachhead in China, but you're right that the television times are problematic in the U.S. and Europe -- on the other hand, if there were mixed-gender fields, you'd have twice as many matches and could schedule television more judiciously for the global market.)

• After a week off, hold a Davis Cup/Fed Cup extravaganza at, say, Key Biscayne or a tennis complex in Barcelona. Rotate the site so the surface changes. Say, a 10-day tournament. Lots of international attention. Lots of international fans. Lots of strategy given the compressed schedule. Doubles get showcased. Upsets galore. Unambiguous timetable. A clear-cut winner. (Plus the added bonus that three weeks of hopelessly confusing Davis Cup preliminary play are freed up early in the calendar.)

By now it's October at the latest. Class dismissed. Everyone can go on vacation, or troll for cash playing exhibitions, or join a Buddhist monastery (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/051126/483/bk10211260431). Whatever floats your proverbial sea craft. See you in Australia.

Anyone have a better plan?