The Doubles Debate.......new article by Wertheim....it's pretty good. [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

The Doubles Debate.......new article by Wertheim....it's pretty good.

mangoes
08-18-2005, 12:30 PM
The doubles debate
Jon Wertheim
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/news?slug=cnnsi-thedoublesdebat&prov=cnnsi&type=lgns

Right to the questions ...

Here's a reason the ATP should pay more attention to doubles: Most of us hacks play it exclusively. I'm not included here, but as one of my league tennis team's singles players, I ended up with heat exhaustion after playing three two-hour-long matches in as many days at the Southern Section Championships, and even I'm beginning to recognize that as I get closer to 40, I may not be able to take the heat against guys 15 to 20 years my junior. (I sympathize with Andre Agassi!) People want to watch the sport they actually play (NASCAR notwithstanding), and the ATP needs to recognize this. -- Kevin Knudson, Starkville, Miss.

This was a hot topic both within and without Bagville last week. The more I hear I about this, the more clear it becomes that these "enhancements" for doubles: a) represent underhanded backroom politics at its most unseemly, b) have antagonized the Slams, something the ATP is ill-advised to do these days, c) have generated fan backlash that will only grow when people see these sweeping changes in practice, and d) have not only infuriated the doubles players but also the singles stars who feel for their buddies and see this as the ATP favoring the tournament directors at the expense of the dues-paying members. Get the feeling the ATP miscalculated badly on this one.

As for the notion that more singles players might be inclined to play doubles, we tossed this one to Andy Roddick, and here's his response: "I don't think I'll play more, you know. I don't -- I just don't think I will. My focus is singles. And, you know, if I need the extra practice, I'll go out on a practice court. I play sometimes for fun, but I don't think, you know, that playing -- whatever they're playing, half sets and no switchovers and, you know, five-second shot clock or something, I don't think I'm going to play any more doubles." We also point out that, Rafael Nadal, the player the ATP trotted out to provide a spoon-fed soundbite supporting the changes, pulled out of doubles last week in Montreal after reaching the quarters in singles, a trend that will surely continue.


Anyway, Kevin raises a fair point. Most recreational hacks play doubles, not singles. You'd think these folks would like to watch how the experts do it. No one is arguing that something needs to be done to "enhance" doubles. But the view here is that the problem is marketing, not an inherently flawed product. If you agree, you can show your support during the U.S. Open. If the Bryans, Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, etc., play before significant crowds it would send a strong message to the ATP.

This Monica Seles hiatus has a "will Pete Sampras retire, or won't he?" feel to it. I know you'll say athletes should have the right to call it quits on their terms, but that's PC fluff. I am curious as to what your real thoughts are about issues like this? -- Jon Berg, Seattle

Far as we're concerned, Seles pretty much gets a pass on anything this side of grand theft auto. But even if we are talking about Jill Q. Player, I fail to see the PC fluff. By wavering about her retirement, Seles is hurting ... whom exactly? Unlike a player in a team sport perpetually on the IR, she's not taking someone's job. There's no guaranteed contract hamstringing the club's payroll or affecting its draft order. Fans are disappointed but surely no less so than if she just walked away. (Yes, by staying "active" Seles is surely remaining on various endorsement payrolls. But who's going to begrudge her that?)

I think I was somewhat critical of Sampras' retirement because of the clumsy handling. The same week his people were whispering that he hadn't touched a racket in months, tournaments were announcing that Sampras had committed to play. Then, invariably, the camp would prepare a statement, and he'd withdraw. This went on for an entire year and it was, frankly, beneath him.

In Seles' case, there's no misdirection or disingenuous announcement. She clearly wants to return. It's a question of whether her body will cooperate.

What is the difference between Nikolay Davydenko, Radek Stepanek and Dominik Hrbaty? About every other week one of them makes a quarterfinal and then disappears. And of course, their matches never get a nanosecond of airtime. Am I missing something? -- Alvar Svensson, Tallmadge, Ohio

I guess we finally let you in on the secret. It's the same person. Sometimes he uses the alias "Jiri Novak," as well. Tax purposes and all.

Entry, Race and now the U.S. Open Series rankings ... When will the nonsense stop? -- Chuck Keenum, Los Angeles

Agree. The USTA has a swell concept -- let's use our television leverage to package an event with a consistent television platform, creating build-up to the Open. Why can't they leave it at that instead of hubristically gilding the lily and turning it into a logo-a-thon -- replete with its own meaningless ranking system and a bonus pool that hasn't lured a single marquis player? Imagine a casual fan hearing about the Rogers Cup ATP Masters Event that's part of the U.S. Open Series. Huh?

I wish the tennis administrators would see e-mails like this and -- and Chuck is hardly the only person who's raised this issue -- and realize how maddeningly confusing and petty this land grab appears to the average fan.

Does anyone get sick of Roger Federer? I often find his remarks obnoxious and seemingly out of character. Is he rude and obnoxious? By the way, I realize you won't agree with me because no one is ever willing to see that side of him, but I thought I would take a shot. -- Rach, Sydney, Australia

I won't agree with you, but I'll publish your question. If Federer is rude and obnoxious, Gael Monfils is old and fat. This same sentiment was expressed by a few of you during the French Open. Pressed for specifics, it seems that Federer -- who'd lost four matches so far all year -- had the unmitigated arrogance to proclaim that while he respected everyone, he feared no one. What am I missing here?

Just received my tickets to the upcoming U.S. Open. The grounds pass is up three dollars and the convenience charge of $6.50, plus the $3.05 order processing fee per ticket is a nice touch. Will the price of a burger be going up, as well? If the USTA continues at this rate the typical tennis fan will be left watching it on TV. -- Greg, Spartanburg, S.C.

But think of all the logos your money is helping to underwrite.

Federer's winning percentage is over 93 percent, including Davis Cup matches since the start of 2004. How does that compare to the greatest two-year runs by any other tennis player? Please have someone get on this; I can't take hearing about Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps anymore! -- Jon Rapkin, Wellington, Fla.

Greg Sharko, tennis' Stephen Hawking, informs us: The last player to post .900 or better in back-to-back years was Ivan Lendl in '86 (74-6, .925) and '87 (74-7, .914). If Federer keeps up this pace, he may have the highest winning percentage in back-to-back years. I'm with you on Tiger and Lance, but who's Phelps? Jaycee? Ken? Digger? Surely not Michael.

In the recent San Diego tournament, why did the announcers keep saying Feng Shui instead of Shuai Peng? -- Ben, Los Angeles

Are you sure they weren't discussing the arrangement of the umpire's chair relative to the players' seats? My guess is they were saying "Peng Shuai." Check this out.

By the way. Not sure where this came from -- Daily Tennis, maybe? -- but someone forwarded us this short article about the curious whereabouts of Chinese players:

"China's fast-rising players led by Top 40 contender Shuai Peng will end what has been a fractured tennis year early in order to complete their playing obligations in a national Olympic-style event scheduled for early October. The October competition ranks second behind the International Olympic Games in sporting importance to the world's most populous nation. Peng is the prize player for a squad from the city of Tianjin, and there's no getting around the commitment. The WTA Guangzhou event the week after Beijing is expected to be lacking in local players, a particularly odd situation in a country where the political elite have taken to tennis as the Japanese did decades ago when golf was introduced there. Taiwan-born, Florida-based coach Alan Ma, guides Peng on the WTA tour when not running his International Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, home of a smaller men's ATP event. The coach cannot discount the importance the quadrennial Chinese Olympics play in national sporting life. 'These decisions affect two billion people,' he said of a schedule drawn up several years ago which unfortunately requires preliminary rounds in March, singles events in June and team events in October. 'The next event won't be until 2009,' he assures. 'Think about it, no Chinese players in a Chinese tournament,' said Ma, who also works with Peng at her training base in Florida."

So there's this guy who plays on the ATP tour. A very defensive-minded player who wins by getting a lot of balls back and waiting for the unforced errors of his more offensive-minded opponents. This guy has a trademark fist pump, screams a lot, acts pretty rude towards his opponents by cheering their mistakes and double faults and treats every victory as if he had just discovered the cure for AIDS or world hunger. I actually thought this was Lleyton Hewitt with a dark tan and some biceps, but I realize he goes by the name of Rafael Nadal. Funny, though, if it were Hewitt people would actually be admitting how obnoxious he is. -- Nora Eisen, Rosario

When Nadal sues the tour, makes homophobic and racially-tinged remarks during matches, and acts as though every off-court demand on his time is akin to a request for his left kidney, I would be more inclined to agree. But a few of you have taken issue with Nadal's emoting, so I'll post this as you can continue the discourse, if you like, on message boards, etc.

This goes to the discussion a few weeks ago about player-fan interactions. I took my eight-year-old son to the Mercedes-Benz cup in L.A. He had his oversized tennis ball ready for autographs, and he experienced both ends of the "cool player" spectrum -- Bob Bryan, James Blake and Dominic Hrbaty graciously signed his ball -- A WELL KNOWN VETERAN, on the other hand, surrounded by body guards passed by my son and watched as his body guard shoved my son out of the way. I followed the entourage to the entrance of the players' lounge to speak with this guard, and A WELL KNOWN VETERAN stood just inside the door and heard my conversation with the guard. He looked at my son and still didn't sign the ball. By the way, it was "Kids Day" and A WELL KNOWN VETERAN had just won his match. He lost the next round -- I like to think it was cosmic justice. -- Michael Patterson, Burbank

Thanks. My instincts are to name -- and thus publicly shame -- the misanthrope player. But without getting his side of the story, or at least independent corroboration, it's not really fair.

More memorable tennis points from recent memory:

Ian, Key Biscayne, Fla.: You have to include the dramatic Sampras-Agassi 22-stroke rally with Agassi serving at set point against him at 4-5 in the first set of the '95 U.S. Open final. After pulling each other farther and farther off the court, Sampras nailed a backhand (people forget his backhand was good back then) that Agassi couldn't reach. That point completely changed the match. Sampras said afterward: "It was probably one of the best points I've ever been a part of. We were both running each other around. That was a huge point."

That's a good one. If memory serves, it was the basis for an entire Nike commercial, replete with announcers falling asleep in the broadcast booth. (Remember those halcyon days, when Nike produced tennis ads?)

Eric Hacker, Denton, Texas: Regarding the best point/rally, you could pull several from the Martina Hingis/Jana Novotna semifinal at the '97 Lipton tournament. It looked more like Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on grass than Hingis and Novotna on Florida's hard courts. Specifically, check out the point where Novotna virtually skis to a volley, wins the point and then curtsies to the camera nearest her stopping point.

Roberto Clarise, Beverly Hills, Calif. Well, not so much a question as it is an observation/correction. Under your "best shot" response you said Venus Williams' pass off of Hingis' overhead deserved mention. In all honesty, I think it was the opposite -- with Hingis hitting one of the worst overheads at the worst time. There were better shots during that match by both players than that pass. However, that overhead begs the question, what are the worst shots in tennis history?

Nice one. Did any of you catch Greg Rusedski missing that gimme putaway against Mario Ancic? I mean this was a floater so meek that any club player would have won the point 99 times out of 100. Rusedski got cute and dumped it in the net -- but went on to win the match so we don't feel too bad for him.

I suppose some of Novotna's ill-timed double-faults makes the list. Same for some of Serena Williams' ill-disguised, ill-conceived, ill-executed drop shots against Justine Henin-Hardenne in the '03 French semifinal. Others? Roddick's last service game against Joachim Johansson at the Open last year. I'll open this one up to you guys. ...

Just got home from attending the JP Morgan Chase Open at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., that Maria Sharapova pulled out of with injury. I understand players get injured and can't compete, but couldn't some of the top players stick around to sign autographs or pose for pictures with their fans? Or at least come on court and speak to the fans for a moment? There were so many disappointed people there with no one to be excited about. No Sharapova, no Williams sisters, no Lindsay Davenport, not even Kim Clijsters whose day match with Nadia Petrova, in my opinion, should have been rescheduled as the marquee match on Friday night. And then to have doubles scratched, as well ... I was with a person who was attending his first professional tennis tournament and said he would never go to another. -- Martin Lomeli, Long Beach, Calif.

Excellent point. This ought to be mandatory reading for tennis administrators and players. And, frankly, it is yet another reason why the ATP would do well to reconsider the doubles changes. Singles star pulls out with an injury? Well, that stinks, but here are some doubles matches. Plus the Bryans will hit serves to fans brave enough to return them. And anyone who doesn't get aced gets a prize. There are ways to salvage unfortunate situations. Saying, effectively, "Maria can't play. Sucks for you guys," doesn't grow the sport.

Please advise where I can get a DVD Copy of the '05 women's Wimbledon final between Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport. -- Jill Smith, Bermuda

Can someone help a friendly Bermudan?

Some random jottings:

• It pains us to acknowledge the existence of the ATP "Race." But more than record, No. 2 Nadal entered Cincinnati with more race points than No. 3 Roddick and No. 4 Hewitt.

• More wacky stats: Heading into his first-round match against James Blake, Roger Federer was 1-4 for his career in Cincinnati.

• And another: So far this year, there have been six Masters Series and three Majors: Either Federer or Nadal has won all but one (the Australian Open).

• An observation after spending a few days in Cincinnati: Club pros would do well to start teaching that squash shot. Unlike, say, the "one-legged backhand" which looks cool but seldom wins points that defensive squash flick shot can be really effective.

• John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Aaron Krickstein, Guillermo Vilas, Anders Jarryd, Johan Kriek, Peter McNamara and Mansour Bahrami will be on hand this weekend for the LTU Champions trophy at the Sportime Club in Amagansett, Long Island. Check out this site for more info.

• Came across a copy of the Binghampton, N.Y. Challenge draw. Really a fascinating window into just how brutal a sport this is. Andre Murray won the thing, still more evidence he is the real deal, or at least will keep British tennis press busy after Tim Henman retires. But it was the other names that caught our eye. Brian Vahaly, a former top-50 player, lost in the first round to Rajeev Ram. Alex Bogomolov Jr. (a/k/a Mr. Ashley Harkleroad) won two matches before falling to Murray. Harel Levy, celebrating the anniversary of his run to the TMS Canada final, lost in the first round.

• What's up with the Pacific Life Open staying in Indian Wells? Read this article.

• Congratulations to Logan Anna Rosner. May this be the first of many Google hits.

• This week's recommendation: Francis X. Rocca's The Next Superpower?: The Rise of Europe and Its Challenge to the United States

• A Nethead writes: "The Netheads have a few half price U.S. Open tickets for the September 1st day session and the September 2nd day and night sessions. Folks can go to our Web site or e-mail netheadtennis@yahoo.com for more information. We are always looking for new Netheads, and yes we do pay for our tickets."

• Yevgeny (He who dies with the most toys wins) Kafelnikov took a wild card into the Russian Open golf tournament and finished 16 shots over.

Have a great week, everyone!

mitalidas
08-18-2005, 12:50 PM
So there's this guy who plays on the ATP tour. A very defensive-minded player who wins by getting a lot of balls back and waiting for the unforced errors of his more offensive-minded opponents. This guy has a trademark fist pump, screams a lot, acts pretty rude towards his opponents by cheering their mistakes and double faults and treats every victory as if he had just discovered the cure for AIDS or world hunger. I actually thought this was Lleyton Hewitt with a dark tan and some biceps, but I realize he goes by the name of Rafael Nadal. Funny, though, if it were Hewitt people would actually be admitting how obnoxious he is. -- Nora Eisen, Rosario

When Nadal sues the tour, makes homophobic and racially-tinged remarks during matches, and acts as though every off-court demand on his time is akin to a request for his left kidney, I would be more inclined to agree. But a few of you have taken issue with Nadal's emoting, so I'll post this as you can continue the discourse, if you like, on message boards, etc.

nora eisen = socket ;) ?

K-Dog
08-18-2005, 01:11 PM
I have an opinion about dubs. I play on my varsity high school tennis team. I am one of the best players on the team, and I am a singles player. Many doubles players challenge me to singles matches, and they don't go well for them. When I play doubles against them, I still win. This is a consistent theme on our team, which has some of the best doubles teams in the conference. We also have two doubles coaches (both of their sons are varsity doubles players) and one singles coach. Makes sense when the singles counts for 4 courts and the doubles for three.:rolleyes:

The thing is with doubles players is that they are not nearly as talented as singles players on the pro tour. That's why they all play doubles because they can't cover the court that well, don't have great grounstrokes, and have a limited array of shots. With that being said, I don't feel that these doubles enhancements are necessary in terms of the scroing. The combined rankings isn't a bad idea. I feel it will rid the tour of these "cop-out" tennis players who are doubles specialist ranked in the 100's and farther back in the rankings. The game of tennis involves playing both singles and doubles. The singles player can all easily play doubles, but the doubles players can't play singles. I guess I have a problem with players that can't do everything all by themselves. They need somone else to help them win. Perhaps the doubles specialists ranking in the top ten or even top twenty should be allowed to play only doubles because they are very good at it, and no reason to make them stop. It is just the guys who only play doubles and can't play singles at all that are ranked in the 100's and further back in the rankings.

Angle Queen
08-18-2005, 01:53 PM
The thing is with doubles players is that they are not nearly as talented as singles players on the pro tour.Good post, K-Dog. And as much as I like and defend doubles at the recreational and pro levels...I think you're correct, certainly for the overwhelming majority. Although I'm long out of high school, I still play competively for a USTA Adult league. Because of how those leagues are usually structured, and as you mentioned, there are many more opportunities to play doubles (6 dubs to 2 singles). Like you, I play both and am successful at both. But what I've noticed over the years, is that "talent" comes to mean different things to the different disciplines. They may use the same equipment and court/field of play...but they're really not the same thing. All too often I see two excellent singles players paired together...lose to a "lesser" but more doubles-oriented/experienced pair. And we're not even talking tight matches here. What does seem to be consistently successful, however, is that a good-to-excellent singles player paired with an experienced doubles player will win almost every time. That formula seems to work on the pro tour as well (a quick example that comes to mind is the Hewitt/Mirnyi USO winning partnership of '00).

To me, a great doubles match is as entertaining as a great singles match...but...an average doubles match is more entertaining than the average singles match. Now that's my opinion, of course...but I'm basing that on the movement of players (I personally find baseline rallies boring to both play and watch), the variety of shot selection and the much quicker shifts in both momentum and offense-to-defense.

I think the ATP has made a mistake...and professional doubles...and professional doubles players will quickly become a thing of the past. Hopefully, it will still survive at the recreational level because it is played and enjoyed by so many.

mitalidas
08-18-2005, 02:09 PM
Wertheim is correct that the proof of the popularity of doubles lies in how many people they can draw in. I've been at the USO several times, and unless a doubles precedes a "marquee" singles match, the stands are quite empty. I am not a fan of doubles, but I arrived early --2004 i think-- to watch ljubo and ancic v/s bryans, because that match came before agassi v/s coria. even for that doubles match (w american bryans) the stands were empty

K-Dog
08-18-2005, 02:17 PM
Good post, K-Dog. And as much as I like and defend doubles at the recreational and pro levels...I think you're correct, certainly for the overwhelming majority. Although I'm long out of high school, I still play competively for a USTA Adult league. Because of how those leagues are usually structured, and as you mentioned, there are many more opportunities to play doubles (6 dubs to 2 singles). Like you, I play both and am successful at both. But what I've noticed over the years, is that "talent" comes to mean different things to the different disciplines. They may use the same equipment and court/field of play...but they're really not the same thing. All too often I see two excellent singles players paired together...lose to a "lesser" but more doubles-oriented/experienced pair. And we're not even talking tight matches here. What does seem to be consistently successful, however, is that a good-to-excellent singles player paired with an experienced doubles player will win almost every time. That formula seems to work on the pro tour as well (a quick example that comes to mind is the Hewitt/Mirnyi USO winning partnership of '00).

To me, a great doubles match is as entertaining as a great singles match...but...an average doubles match is more entertaining than the average singles match. Now that's my opinion, of course...but I'm basing that on the movement of players (I personally find baseline rallies boring to both play and watch), the variety of shot selection and the much quicker shifts in both momentum and offense-to-defense.

I think the ATP has made a mistake...and professional doubles...and professional doubles players will quickly become a thing of the past. Hopefully, it will still survive at the recreational level because it is played and enjoyed by so many.

I totally agree with the point that you make about two singles players versus two doubles players. That is like putting a doubles player against a singles player. It isn't fair to the player with less experience at that particular game. I personally find baseline bashing fun to watch. I play that way when I play singles, but playing a little bit of doubles has helped my transition game. Singles is really for serious players at the recreation level. Doubles is a way for not as serious players to be competive but still having fun. I just feel that the ATP tour is making a business decesion here, but not looking at the game's history at all. I don't like to see journey-man doubles players because that are really not that good. To me, doubles is boring to watch. When someone can't hit groundies that well, it perturbs me. Groundstrokes are really the basis for any tennis player. Even net-rushers have to hit returns and are occasionaly pushed back with lobs. I don't feel that doubles is nearly as hard as singles, so I don't feel that doubles should be treated as well as singles. That's why all the money being make in tennis is based on the singles players selling it. All the money is in singles. Doubles is just an afterthought.

alfonsojose
08-18-2005, 03:02 PM
nora eisen = socket ;) ?
:lol: i think Socket is Hewitt's mom ;)

uNIVERSE mAN
08-18-2005, 03:21 PM
My God! Enough with the doubles controversy. If people are put on the spot and asked to name any doubles match in history that stands out, you'd draw blanks. It doesn't even make good viewing, some 400 ranked singles players trying to eek out a living with some worhtless doubles, that's not something I'd pay to see. Bottom line is no one except people with cheap tickets gives a shit.

Angle Queen
08-18-2005, 03:27 PM
:hatoff: to another nicely constructed post, K-Dog.

I personally find baseline bashing fun to watch.Ah, to each their own. ;) That said...

I play that way when I play singles, but playing a little bit of doubles has helped my transition game.:lol: Me too! (even though I find it boring...I'm a grinder in singles, for sure). I never came to net until I started playing doubles on a consistent basis. Now, I'll even throw in a few S/V and don't panic when I'm pulled in on short shot. My doubles games, on the other hand...is about how quick can I get to net (if I'm serving or receiving)...and how often can I poach without getting burned DTL.

Singles is really for serious players at the recreation level.Maybe when you're 20...or even 30. But one of the beauties of this game we love is that it is/can be a lifetime sport. I know some awfully serious doubles players of both genders, in all rating categories and age groups. They take year-round lessons on strokes AND strategy.

I just feel that the ATP tour is making a business decesion here, but not looking at the game's history at all.Here you have it, folks. It is about the $$$. Just because I'm willing to spend my entertainment dollar to attend a doubles match doesn't mean there are enough others like me. What I should have said in my first post was that I thought the ATP was making a mistake...for the good of the game as a whole...not necessarily for their collective wallets. I'm a realistic capitalist.

Groundstrokes are really the basis for any tennis player. Even net-rushers have to hit returns and are occasionaly pushed back with lobs.A net-rusher is hitting a mid-court shot (we could argue whether it's a groundie or a volley) which, IMHO, is one of the most difficult shots in the game. A good one is an outright winner (very rare) or, more usually, sets up an easy volley or overhead putaway. A bad one is the kiss of death. Doubles players have to have the whole shot arsenal:

an accurate, highly consistent serve
respectable (ok, but not outstanding) groundstrokes that include lobs
excellent mid-court shots
volleys of all flavors (depth, drop and angled), and
overheads


Doubles is a more well-rounded, mature game that's far less dependent on surface or weather condition that truly let's the players skills speak (or maybe the lack thereof ;) ) for themselves.

I don't feel that doubles is nearly as hard as singles, so I don't feel that doubles should be treated as well as singles. An opinion shared by many so that the result is as you state. It's not treated as well...at the pro level...as singles.

Doubles is just an afterthought.And you've finally arrived at the true Catch-22. If it weren't an afterthought...of teenage, tunnel-minded players, their coaches/parents and the professional sports's governing bodies...it might not have the label it does. It's poor promoted so it has poor attendance. But why spend money on something no one wants to see? It's a vicious cycle.

wcr
08-18-2005, 03:34 PM
Can anyone explain to me why the doubles question is an issue at all? Is there some theory that if they modify the format to get Roger and Andy and Rafael to play it will draw more interest to the sport (more ticket sales)? It will get more folks to watch TV (higher ratings)? It will get more non-tennis players involved in the sport? It will sell more tennis equipment? What?

kabuki
08-18-2005, 03:35 PM
This goes to the discussion a few weeks ago about player-fan interactions. I took my eight-year-old son to the Mercedes-Benz cup in L.A. He had his oversized tennis ball ready for autographs, and he experienced both ends of the "cool player" spectrum -- Bob Bryan, James Blake and Dominic Hrbaty graciously signed his ball -- A WELL KNOWN VETERAN, on the other hand, surrounded by body guards passed by my son and watched as his body guard shoved my son out of the way. I followed the entourage to the entrance of the players' lounge to speak with this guard, and A WELL KNOWN VETERAN stood just inside the door and heard my conversation with the guard. He looked at my son and still didn't sign the ball. By the way, it was "Kids Day" and A WELL KNOWN VETERAN had just won his match. He lost the next round -- I like to think it was cosmic justice. -- Michael Patterson, Burbank

Thanks. My instincts are to name -- and thus publicly shame -- the misanthrope player. But without getting his side of the story, or at least independent corroboration, it's not really fair.



Tommy Haas :tape:

K-Dog
08-18-2005, 04:35 PM
:hatoff: to another nicely constructed post, K-Dog.

Ah, to each their own. ;) That said...

:lol: Me too! (even though I find it boring...I'm a grinder in singles, for sure). I never came to net until I started playing doubles on a consistent basis. Now, I'll even throw in a few S/V and don't panic when I'm pulled in on short shot. My doubles games, on the other hand...is about how quick can I get to net (if I'm serving or receiving)...and how often can I poach without getting burned DTL.

Maybe when you're 20...or even 30. But one of the beauties of this game we love is that it is/can be a lifetime sport. I know some awfully serious doubles players of both genders, in all rating categories and age groups. They take year-round lessons on strokes AND strategy.

Here you have it, folks. It is about the $$$. Just because I'm willing to spend my entertainment dollar to attend a doubles match doesn't mean there are enough others like me. What I should have said in my first post was that I thought the ATP was making a mistake...for the good of the game as a whole...not necessarily for their collective wallets. I'm a realistic capitalist.

A net-rusher is hitting a mid-court shot (we could argue whether it's a groundie or a volley) which, IMHO, is one of the most difficult shots in the game. A good one is an outright winner (very rare) or, more usually, sets up an easy volley or overhead putaway. A bad one is the kiss of death. Doubles players have to have the whole shot arsenal:

an accurate, highly consistent serve
respectable (ok, but not outstanding) groundstrokes that include lobs
excellent mid-court shots
volleys of all flavors (depth, drop and angled), and
overheads


Doubles is a more well-rounded, mature game that's far less dependent on surface or weather condition that truly let's the players skills speak (or maybe the lack thereof ;) ) for themselves.

An opinion shared by many so that the result is as you state. It's not treated as well...at the pro level...as singles.

And you've finally arrived at the true Catch-22. If it weren't an afterthought...of teenage, tunnel-minded players, their coaches/parents and the professional sports's governing bodies...it might not have the label it does. It's poor promoted so it has poor attendance. But why spend money on something no one wants to see? It's a vicious cycle.


Thanks, but I post on WTAWORLD way more than here. I mean, I'm a guy so I prefer more to see top level male players play, but I enjoy to watch the ladies a lot too. In fact the Williams sisters first started me watching tennis in like 2000. I didn't start playing until the summer of 2001 and I taught myself to be a top player on one of the top three tennis teams in our conference (which by the way is one of the hardest conferences in the state of Wisconsin).

ae wowww
08-18-2005, 05:29 PM
Older article by Wertheim:

My Point: Doubles Vision



By L. Jon Wertheim



Despite their desire for more "entertainment," The Lords of Tennis seem blind to the fun right under their noses.



Darndest thing happened to me this summer. I went to Plaster-Your-Name-Here stadium to watch my local baseball team. Before and after the game, a group of players competed in a variation of baseball. There were twice as many men on the field, and the dimensions of the diamond were altered a bit. Some of the required skills were a little obscure and there were few twists on the traditional rules.



But the crazy thing was, this sideshow, full of no-name players who had eye-opening skills, was faster and more closely contested than the game I came here to watch, which turned out to be a yawner that was over by the third inning.



Wait, it gets better: these entertaining 18-on-18 games were included with the price of admission. The league's broadcast partners are permitted to televise the action at no extra charge, which can come in handy when the main event is a blowout. And the franchise owners now have that many more players to market, that many more replica jerseys to sell. Everyone wins, right?



I'm kidding, of course. But here's what I don't get: Tennis tournaments actually do offer a similar supplemental competition, doubles. But instead of being perceived as a bonanza, doubles is treated like a zit on prom night, an unfortunate outgrowth best kept from the public. Doubles players are banished to the hinterlands at tournaments, left to do their poaching and crossing on Court 52. Doubles results seldom make it into the newspapers, much less onto television. Many promoters continue to push for reduced doubles draws and prize money. "Ultimately you play(tennis) for yourself and your partner, not to be popular. But you wish the respect were higher," says Mark Knowles, a veteran who is to doubles what Yo-Yo Ma is to cello.



Barely a generation ago, the biggest stars in the tennis cosmos entered the doubles draws - they could hardly afford not to. Players on the order of John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova took nearly as much pride in their ability to perform with a co-pilot as in their ability to fly solo. Two-on-two matches aired on television and even doubles specialists such as Peter Fleming were accorded quasi-celebrity status.



Not so today. When Knowles and Daniel Nestor won the title at the Pacific Life Open, for instance, they worked their magic before pastures of empty seats. Whiles the singles final between Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt was broadcast internationally, the doubles result was the smallest of footnotes. Despite incentives to get the ATP singles studs to play, men's doubles is largely a subculture unto itself. Most of the top stars, wary of risking injury or relcutant to spend too much time at the office, decline to couple off. And whereas five or so years ago all of the top women were entered into partnership, only two Top 10 singles players - Svetlana Kuznetsova and Alicia Molik - currently hold a Top 10 doubles ranking as well.



The diminished status of doubles is perplexing. For one, It's the hacker's sport of choice. There are three times as many doubles players as singles players in USTA leagues. Plus, doubles is the answer to a lot of the standard tennis critiques. The hidebound types left mourning the decline of the serve-and-volley game? Almost all doubles players head netward every chance they get, and a strong, staccato volley is an occupational requirement. Turned off by two players mindlessly bludgeoning the ball from the baseline? The average doubles point is stuffed with viperous angles, deftly placed lobs, and clever tactics. Reluctant to sit through a five-hour marathon? At most tournaments, doubles matches end in a third-set, winner-take-all super tiebreaker.



Promoters, administrators and television execs defend their singles-heavy emphasis by asserting that fans want to see stars. They've tried to make doubles attractive to top singles players, without much luck. So here's an idea: How about making stars of doubles players? Promote Virgina Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez, who inexplicably, play in anonymity despite winning half the Grand Slams they enter. Showcase the doppelganging doubles gang, twins Bob and Mike Bryan. Put Todd Woodbridge, who entered 2005 with 16 career Grand Slam doubles titles, on a marquee court.



The tennis establishment's failure to take advantage of these assets makes about as much sense as playing doubles without a partner.