Doing My Part [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Doing My Part

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 04:27 PM
I sent this to Wertheim's mailbag just now. I hope he uses it. :)





Mr. Wertheim: The following is an open letter to ATP president Etienne de Villiers. I sincerely hope you publish it, and allow it to be a reminder that maybe a sport can be about more than just picking up extra money. Some fans love this sport for everything it is and has been, and personally, what it can continue to be.


Mr. de Villiers,

Hi, my name is Dominic Matheny. I am a big fan of tennis. I am the reason behind your proposed changes for the future of tennis. So, rather than allowing your changes to go without response from your fan base, I would personally like to take the duty of responding. However, I can only speak from my own personal tennis experience, so allow me to start with my start as a tennis fan.
In the summer of 2004, I was about to start my senior year, being only a fan of American football and no other sport. By chance, I happened to turn to tennis, having heard of only the really famous, Hall of Fame bound players. It must have been a Thursday, because it was the latter stages Wimbledon semifinal between American legend Lindsay Davenport and this young girl named Maria Sharapova. Sharapova was a Russian girl who followed her dreams and came to America to learn to play tennis. I was fascinated, and despite my Americanism, began to cheer for the young girl. To get to the final of Wimbledon at 17 would be huge. Honestly, it was the only tennis tournament I had heard of. I watched her win and watched a very small part of the next day’s session, literally learning the rules of the game as I went. They can’t let a ball hit the net on a serve? That was interesting. Oh, they don’t use that outer alley? I wonder why. During the men’s section, I started cheering for this fun guy with a ponytail named Roger Federer. I made it a point to watch him in the final when it came.
And so my love affair with tennis began, as I went from watching my new favorites Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer win Wimbledon, the only tournament I had ever heard of, to knowing things like “Florent Serra won the Adelaide. I wonder if that will carry over to the Australian Open.” I know the last 7 French Open champions off the top of my head, so much to talk about them. This is no small feat considering that I didn’t even see a clay court until coverage of Monte Carlo in 2005.
I went without major setbacks as a tennis fan through Cincinnati of 2006, enjoying a tennis life that included things like checking between high school classes just in time to see Roger Federer fall to Marat Safin in the Australian Open on an online scoreboard. Then came the famed 2007 initiatives, a step in your continued effort to make tennis more entertaining, and draw new fans, making tennis appealing to all.
To be honest, Etienne, these initiatives frighten me, and worst of all, they seem to be inconsistent with other things you do and say. You claim to want to allow the fans to see their favorite players more, and at the same time, you claim to value the players’ health. These seem inconsistent with some of your solutions, which are, in themselves, detrimental to the future of tennis.
There are three things that, more than others, bother me about your proposed initiatives, and things you have said in interviews. First, I have a problem with your proposed elimination of the Master Series. For a man so interested in the fans being able to see more of their players, eliminating events with high-class tennis featuring most of the top 50 seems like a contradiction. How can you feature top players more often when they are not playing required events. It should serve as a reminder that the #1 player in the world is currently holding only three optionals toward his ranking. The Masters Series allows for the top players to gain very efficient practice for the events they lead to.
Secondly, I worry about the fact, that in interviews, I have seen you mention the possibility of singles using the same match tiebreak system as doubles. As a matter of fact, I was against the implementation of such a system in doubles, and still don’t happen to like it. People earn a living off of playing doubles, just like singles. That should be respected, not dissected because fans don’t like it as much. It is not the case, I should say, that ticketholders leave after singles finals if a doubles final is to follow. All this comes from a person who is not a fan of doubles, mind you. To do this in singles, would be even more egregious an error. Could you imagine, a match like the aforementioned Federer-Safin match with the scoreline 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6, 10-6 (match tiebreak)? That is the appeal of tennis! If people split sets, they have to play another one. It would not be an issue if they had finished the match in straight sets. Do not use the tiebreak to help gather fans with short attention spans, because honestly, if they’re shown a match like the Safin-Federer match, and they can’t take a 9-7 fifth set because it is too long, that should speak to the fact that maybe tennis is not the right sport for them, not the other way around. You have used soccer as am example many times to explain your ideas, and to this I say that many Americans find soccer boring, but I respect all those soccer officials who do not change the game to suit only those who think the sport is inherently boring, myself included.
Finally, somehow more troubling is the suggestion of round robin formats at tournaments, with the reasoning being that it allows people such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to get more matches in, allowing the fans to see their favorite players more. First, I would like to make the point that the ATP should be responsible for promoting players better, rather than trying to force through the players fans already know. Perhaps instead of giving more Federer or Nadal because people know them, you might try introducing them to the wonderful workings of Richard Gasquet or Novak Djokovic, or even Andreas Seppi. Market your players, Etienne. Do not forget that more than two players participate in this sport. Imagine what this round robin format could do to them. I can see it now: Boris Pashanski gets the win of his life, beating Roger Federer in a tournament with a four person round robin group, only to lose his second two matches while Federer exorcises his demons and wins the group easily. Could you honestly say “Congratulations, Boris, on your biggest win yet. Maybe next time, it will count for something.”? I hope you answer “no” to that question when you read this. Are you looking for an example closer to home? During your tenure, Martin Vassallo Arguello, a qualifier from Argentina, moved from qualifying to the round of 16 in the French Open. A round robin would almost certainly have eliminated him, with him being guaranteed to meet at least one highly ranked player. Maybe you are of the opinion that people would rather see the top 16 getting through events more often, but let me tell you unequivocally, that is not the case. Tennis fans, like any fans, love the underdog, and even more so than in other sports, watch for and love the moments when a 44th ranked player from Argentina goes on a run, and wins a major, defeating his opponent, who cramped from the nerves and let him in. These dreams are the things that allowing lucky winners can accomplish.
I am writing this letter to you, Etienne, because I believe you to be a rational man who can think these things through. I hope you take my letter seriously and weigh heavily in your head and heart the direction that tennis should or should not be moving in. I know you want to be the man who revolutionizes tennis. Please, Mr. de Villiers, just try not to be the man who murders my favorite sport. Everything I have mentioned is true. I swear by it. If you do not believe it from me, ask Mr. Gaudio. He can tell you about something other than Roger and Rafael.

Thank you,
Dominic Matheny
Tennis Fan

Action Jackson
08-30-2006, 04:31 PM
That is too long for Wertheim.

If we're going to do anything, it has to be done collectively and by the way that was well written.

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 04:34 PM
Thank you for the compliment! It's always nice to hear good things about your work.

I know it's too long for the mailbag, but I was hoping if it was good enough, it would warrant an eye anyway.

Any attempt is better than no attempt, I guess, though.

Naranoc
08-30-2006, 04:35 PM
I am writing this letter to you, Etienne, because I believe you to be a rational man who can think these things through.

:haha: Must have had to grit your teeth when writing that ;)

Deboogle!.
08-30-2006, 04:36 PM
Very well-written indeed!!!! Nothing bothers me more than when someone tries to write a letter of protest or whatever and it's got all these poor things in it. So kudos! :D

you know who might print it, Dominic? Try Tennis week and tennisreporters.net - they have printed fan editorials and letters in the past.

Tennis Week: http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=contact

tennisreporters: http://www.tennisreporters.net/contact.html (I'd email it to Matt Cronin, I wrote him once a while back about one of his articles and he responded to me personally, so he might be willing to post it :))

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 04:38 PM
:haha: Must have had to grit your teeth when writing that ;)
I found myself trying not to use the "schoolyard language" a lot when writing this.

Action Jackson
08-30-2006, 04:39 PM
Try and get it to as many people as possible and some of the newspapers, the journalists usually have email addresses on their articles.

There is a story here, someone coming in just throwing ideas around and claims to care about the fans, but has shown blatant disregard for him. Process of elimination that someone journalist would take the story up.

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 04:40 PM
Very well-written indeed!!!! Nothing bothers me more than when someone tries to write a letter of protest or whatever and it's got all these poor things in it. So kudos! :D

you know who might print it, Dominic? Try Tennis week and tennisreporters.net - they have printed fan editorials and letters in the past.

Tennis Week: http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=contact

tennisreporters: http://www.tennisreporters.net/contact.html (I'd email it to Matt Cronin, I wrote him once a while back about one of his articles and he responded to me personally, so he might be willing to post it :))
Thank you! I'll definitely consider it, though I worry about shopping around such a letter. I am eager, but I don't want it to come off as being more worried about having it published than the message in it.

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 04:41 PM
Try and get it to as many people as possible and some of the newspapers, the journalists usually have email addresses on their articles.

There is a story here, someone coming in just throwing ideas around and claims to care about the fans, but has shown blatant disregard for him. Process of elimination that someone journalist would take the story up.
And out of nowhere, GWH swoops in to remind me that more people seeing it is a good thing.

I knew you had a purpose here. ; )

oz_boz
08-30-2006, 04:47 PM
It would be great if someone with good writing skills (thus myself excluded) write a short appeal to De Villiers that you could copy and send. Then fix the adresses to ATP suggestion box or De Villiers personally, and other notable people like the journalists suggested above. And put it all in a thread "Appeal to De Villiers about his bad ideas" or something.

Very well written Beforehand :hatoff:

Action Jackson
08-30-2006, 04:47 PM
And out of nowhere, GWH swoops in to remind me that more people seeing it is a good thing.

I knew you had a purpose here. ; )

I will say this again. As much as the petty arguments that some people have on here, the incessant whining about minor issues.

The facts are that most people on this board love tennis and there had to be a reason that happened initially. It wasn't cause of silly arse gimmicks and band aid solutions, for whatever reasons we became fans of the sport and de Villiers is insulting peoples intelligence.

By using irrelevant examples as a base to try his funny ideas. I am gathering some ideas, not just from myself and I want to contribute something to this.

Beforehand
08-30-2006, 05:09 PM
I sent it to Deb's two links.

Thanks Deb!

Lee
08-30-2006, 05:11 PM
:yeah:

MisterQ
08-30-2006, 05:48 PM
:yeah:

I second that. ;)

Phunkadelicious
08-30-2006, 06:11 PM
Well written and concise my friend. :yeah:

Sunset of Age
08-30-2006, 06:13 PM
Wow, great job. It had to be said and you did it very well. :worship:

Good to see people jump into this. I'd hate to see tennis change because of 'marketing' business. :(
Now let's just hope anyone will take notice.

The Gucci one
08-31-2006, 06:40 AM
Maybe we should consider an online petition?

The Gucci one
08-31-2006, 06:44 AM
Free Online Petition Link (http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html)

We could use this one above that I just found.

The Gucci one
08-31-2006, 06:53 AM
This one maybe even better (http://www.ipetitions.com/index.html)

I think as lovers of the ATP tour we should band together collectively to voice our disapproval.

Action Jackson
08-31-2006, 06:56 AM
For those who want to use the Feedback option on the ATP and yes I love a good insult as much as any person, but it would be better if plenty of us sent messages to this about our respective comcerns, though leaving the crude insults out as funny as they may be and as deserved as Mr Disney is of them.

http://www.atptennis.com/en/aboutatp/contact.asp

disturb3d
08-31-2006, 07:37 AM
After months of constant bitching, I actually believed the ATP were making serious mistakes. But this thread has cleared it up. And all I've heard is:
"Round-robins favor the better players" "Pay closer attention to my Djokovic"

Whiners, stop stalling the inevitable. You don't play a role in the state of tennis.

Kalliopeia
08-31-2006, 10:33 AM
Nobody pays attention to online petitions.

I've tried writing but am having trouble coming up with something that doesn't include the phrase "incompetent asstard" so I will keep trying. :)

scoobs
08-31-2006, 10:46 AM
I like that letter a lot - it's well-written.

Do you know where I think the ATP is going wrong with all this?

I think the sport would grow its fanbase and its interest automatically if they just got MORE TENNIS onto TV screens.

I don't know how it's been in other countries, in the UK I'm lucky I get a digital satellite package that means whatever tennis is shown in the UK, I can watch it.

But listening to the woes of Americans, with one network carrying this tournament and the other network carrying that set of tournaments and this cable company refusing to pick up that channel, etc, it's a nightmare. Tennis is hard for people to find so they can watch it consistently, so they give up.

The situation in the UK has improved immeasurably with satellite and cable TV - 20 years ago we would get Wimbledon and that's it. You'd think tennis was a 2 week a year sport because outside of that, we UK fans never heard anything about it. Sure they might mention such and such did this at the French a couple of weeks ago, but that was it.

Nowadays we have access in one form or another to a huge chunk of the season.

Other countries are not so lucky. Germany has no broadcaster for Masters Series events, for example. I find it absolutely bizarre.

They don't necessarily need to indulge in all these gimmicks, although marketing the sport better would be a good thing in general terms.

What they do need to do is get players on TV screens right around the world and sort out internet rights to tap into that nascent but growing market.

I think if they did that, they'd find to their surprise, that people will watch and enjoy it without the need to faff around with the actual game.

Michael Pemulis
08-31-2006, 11:05 AM
just to say HI, I'm a newcomer at menstennisforums.com

looking forward to sharing thoughts as soon as possible

Action Jackson
08-31-2006, 11:11 AM
I like that letter a lot - it's well-written.

Do you know where I think the ATP is going wrong with all this?

I think the sport would grow its fanbase and its interest automatically if they just got MORE TENNIS onto TV screens.

What they do need to do is get players on TV screens right around the world and sort out internet rights to tap into that nascent but growing market.

I think if they did that, they'd find to their surprise, that people will watch and enjoy it without the need to faff around with the actual game.

Well since ISL collapsed unlike the golf who have signed an agreement collectively about TV rights, that makes it easy to get on sports channels. The ATP doesn't do it collectively, but that requires thought, something these gimmicks don't necessarily.

njorker
08-31-2006, 11:35 AM
Tennis fans, like any fans, love the underdog, and even more so than in other sports, watch for and love the moments when a 44th ranked player from Argentina goes on a run, and wins a major, defeating his opponent, who cramped from the nerves and let him in.

That's my favorite part.

Good job w/ the letter! Hope this will reach Etienne and make him rethink his 'solutions.'

NicoFan
08-31-2006, 12:07 PM
Excellent letter!!!!

Just some thoughts if we want to do something collectively (from years of political lobbying):

1) Keep it short
2) Keep it to a few brief points - let's pick maybe 2-3 things we don't like - not 10
3) Do NOT use insulting language
4) Do NOT say you'll never watch tennis again if these changes are implemented - they'll figure they've already lost you as a fan anyway.
5) Thank them at the end for taking the time to read our thoughts

Three options are letters, emails, and faxes:

Letters are the best way. It shows that you care enough to write the letter, put a stamp on it, and take it to the post office to mail.

Emails are the easiest - but its also easy for them to hit the delete button.

Faxes generally are a fun way to get their attention! Especially if you have everyone send throughout the day on one day - you tie up their fax machine and they have to notice. :lol: But since people are from all countries here, faxes wouldn't be a good option due to the cost to people who don't live in the same countries as the ATP offices.

Petitions really don't do any good. But if we had a petition in addition to whatever we choose as our primary source of communication to the ATP, it would be a plus. Especially if we had someone who lives near an ATP office print it out and deliver it in person.

One additional thought: sponsors run this sport (as with all sports). It might be a thought for everyone to cc the major sponsors of the ATP like Adidas, Nike, Mercedes, etc. Also if you attend tournaments, send a copy to those tournaments and the sponsors of those tournaments.

Saumon
08-31-2006, 12:13 PM
the ATP offices are in Florida and MC right?

NicoFan
08-31-2006, 12:17 PM
the ATP offices are in Florida and MC right?

I know there is one in Florida - but unsure where it is in Europe. Didn't know if it was London or Monte Carlo. Easy to check though - I remember seeing it on the ATP site.

Saumon
08-31-2006, 12:27 PM
ATP International Group
Level 2, 234 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia
P.O. Box N662
Sydney, NSW 1220 Australia
PH: 61-2-92502300
FAX: 61-2-92502333

ATP International Headquarters, America
201 ATP Boulevard
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
32082 USA
PH: 1-904-285-8000
FAX: 1-904-285-5966

ATP Europe
Monte Carlo Sun
74 Boulevard D’Italie
98000 Monaco
PH: 377-97-970404
FAX: 377-97-970400

ATP Properties
Bank Lane
Roehampton
London SW15 5XZ
PH: 377-97-97-0404
FAX: 377-97-97-0400

Puschkin
08-31-2006, 01:36 PM
Excellent letter!!!!

Just some thoughts if we want to do something collectively (from years of political lobbying):

1) Keep it short
2) Keep it to a few brief points - let's pick maybe 2-3 things we don't like - not 10
3) Do NOT use insulting language
4) Do NOT say you'll never watch tennis again if these changes are implemented - they'll figure they've already lost you as a fan anyway.
5) Thank them at the end for taking the time to read our thoughts

Three options are letters, emails, and faxes:

Letters are the best way. It shows that you care enough to write the letter, put a stamp on it, and take it to the post office to mail.

Emails are the easiest - but its also easy for them to hit the delete button.

Faxes generally are a fun way to get their attention! Especially if you have everyone send throughout the day on one day - you tie up their fax machine and they have to notice. :lol: But since people are from all countries here, faxes wouldn't be a good option due to the cost to people who don't live in the same countries as the ATP offices.

Petitions really don't do any good. But if we had a petition in addition to whatever we choose as our primary source of communication to the ATP, it would be a plus. Especially if we had someone who lives near an ATP office print it out and deliver it in person.

One additional thought: sponsors run this sport (as with all sports). It might be a thought for everyone to cc the major sponsors of the ATP like Adidas, Nike, Mercedes, etc. Also if you attend tournaments, send a copy to those tournaments and the sponsors of those tournaments.

I agree on everything, but particularly this:

Letters are the best way. It shows that you care enough to write the letter, put a stamp on it, and take it to the post office to mail.

I have positive experience with letters. I sent one to Jim McIngvale after the Master's 2003 with five detailed questions, and I got a two paged-letter in reply, which certainly had kept somebody busy for some time. I also have already sent a letter to de Villiers, about the non-existing TV coverage of the Masters Series in some European countries. I am not as arrogant as to believe my letter made it happen, but the ATP online offer for Toronto, Cincy and Madrid is clearly a way out of this. So, yeah, I think it is worth while to do something, but reactions have to be numerous and take into account all of NicoFan's advice.