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Old 11-15-2005, 02:36 PM   #1
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Default A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

A few of you might know I have trouble sleeping at night. My doc calls it an overactive brain. Well here's what it's been working on for the past few evenings.

It's not Andy related at all...so Deb...if you feel it's out of place, feel free to lock or delete it. I'd much prefer debuting it here, in a friendly home, with people who can be serious about it.

So...here goes....

TENNIS IS A WORLDWIDE SPORT

It's unlike any other major professional sport in that there aren’t ‘teams’ (WTT notwithstanding and we all see how successful that is). Every week is sudden death – win or go home. The season is long, some/many say too long but it's that very nature that makes it complicated. It you're winning a lot, you're playing a lot...and making yourself suspect to fatigue and injury. If you're a fringe player, you'd like as many opportunities to 'play' as possible to increase your skill...and your pocketbook.

I’m not saying this proposal is better or worse and openly acknowledge that it generally just addresses the Big Boys and big tournaments. It's just different and tries to address some of the commonly identified problems (and probably introduces others).

I certainly don’t know enough about all the various lower tier tournaments or points and ranking systems for this to be a full-fledged proposal but I’m hoping it could be a beginning point of discussion.

I won’t try to defend it because I’m not saying this is the way it should be...merely a way it could be.

The Basics

Break the calendar up into four mini-seasons:
  • a two month Clay ‘season’,
  • a two month Outdoor - Non-Clay ‘season’ (hereafter referred to as Hard Court),
  • a two month Indoor ‘season’ with the surface being the choice of tournament organizers, and
  • a one month ‘season’ rotating between Grass and Davis Cup.

In fact, all the ‘Slams’ would be rotated. The Clay Slam would move between RG and a new location in South America, probably in Argentina or Brazil. The Hard Court Slam would move between the USO and AO. The as-yet-unidentified Indoor ‘Slam’ would rotate between Europe and Asia. Wimbledon and Davis Cup would only be contested every other year. There would be no year-ending championship. #1 is an accumulation of points earned throughout the year.

A few brief points before moving on:

This creates a 7-month ‘season’...certainly on par with other sports like MLB, the NBA and the NHL. Should there be an overwhelming desire for an additional ‘month’...I’d propose something say in January: a one week wood racket tournament, a one week blind-draw doubles tournament and a two-week, double elimination tournament. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

While it doesn’t necessarily create an equal number of opportunities on each surface, the point structure could be so that clay/slow surfaces have the same number of total points available as hard/fast surfaces. Despite the distinct ‘seasons,’ the idea is still to encourage generalists rather than specialists.

While I like grass, and it is without doubt one of the most tradition filled surfaces, its importance to the game is clearly on the decline. It’s only a 3-week season as it is now. Davis Cup also is in need of some overhaul and playing it bi-annually might be a good approach. Again, the ‘points’ could encourage team participation...and success.

Ranking/Seedings

Most sports start each new season with a perfectly clean slate. Perhaps tennis should as well.

I propose only ‘seeding’ the top 8 players...from the prior week’s tournament. The guy who won it is #1, the runner-up is #2. The guy who lost to the eventual winner is #3 and the remaining semi-finalist is #4. Tournaments would use the much more classic #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3 to ensure, that even if these four get to the semis the following week, we’d have different matchups.

The next four (or 12 if you think we should be seeding the first 16) could be placed by an accumulation of total points. Under this format, I believe...you’d have many ties and would need to resort to H2H or random luck-of-the-draw.

The rest of the field...should be luck of the draw.

If you win, you’ll be guaranteed the top spot the next week. Simple as that. You lose early, you play with the grubs just like everyone else.

And consider each ‘mini-season’ a grading period. Yes, a clean slate for each one although the initial tournament would use the prior ‘mini-season’s Slam results for the top 8 seedings. The defending Champ is always #1 (even if they don’t always play that way ). But as I mentioned earlier, total points would still be accumulated for the year-ending ranking.

A Bit More on the ‘Rotating’ Slams

Let’s face it, to shorten the season, but expand the geographic area of the fan base, something’s gotta give. And I think it’s up to the big boys to fold first but they...and their ‘area’ will need some sort of compensation.

Suppose the Hard Court Rotation looked like this:
Year One

Month One
warm-up tourney in the US
followed by three successive Masters Cup caliber tourneys all in North America

Month Two
two warm-up tourneys in the Pacific
the two week-AO in Australia

Year Two

Month One
one warm-up tourney in the Pacific
followed by three successive Masters Cup caliber tourneys all in the Pacific

Month Two
two warm-up tourneys in North America
the two week USO
Now, this means that the ‘Calendar’ is not identical from year to year. So what? Many sports are quite familiar to the Home-and-Away concept...this year we play at my place, next year at yours. No reason those things can’t be worked out well in advance.

Withdrawals & Entry Fees: In other words...How to get everyone there

I think a shorter more clearly defined season will go a long way towards keeping the interest of the fans and players alike. I don’t like the practice of assessing fees to withdrawals but I understand their purpose. Perhaps I don’t know enough how big tournaments work...but for us hacks, we’ve got entry deadlines...and entry fees. And there’s not even a monetary prize for us at the end.

Horse breeders pay to enter their animals in a race.

Perhaps tennis players (or their sponsors) should too (they might already...I just don’t know how that works). I’d like to the think the entry fee could be based on a ranking/seeding (if you’ve got one) – that means you advanced sufficiently in the prior week’s tourney, received what is sometimes substantial prize money...and are most likely to be the kind of player the organizers want at their tournament. So, little guys pay a nominal fee, big guys pay bigger ones. It might not be ‘fair’ but in this particular case, I don’t mind a bit of inequity to put more pressure on the winning/marquee players to appear. It is, so to speak, putting your money where your mouth is. You’re only going to enter if you (or someone who believes in you) think(s) you have the chance of winning...or at least winning enough to cover expenses...and make a living.

When and Where

As for when what should be played, I’m inclined to believe the current general schedule might be a place to start:
  • April & May for Clay,
  • June for Grass/DC,
  • July & August for Hard, and
  • September & October for Indoor.

But I wouldn’t be adverse to swapping the Clay for later in the year. Do we treat it like fine wine, and work our way up to speed...starting with clay, then indoor (because you’d likely have a mixture of slow and hard courts), then grass, then hard court. Or is prevailing weather a better, more crucial element to consider (obviously for the outdoor events)? And yes, Miami is awful in the summer...but Melbourne is no picnic either. Paris in the Spring can be cold and rainy...big deal. Organizers can do what the population does...move about in the early morning and late evening...and consider scoring modifications in the case of excessive postponements. While I don’t like them...AT ALL...playing lets, no ad-scoring and...gasp, a time limit could...should all be on the table.



Well, kids, that’s it for now. It’s been running around in my head for a few nights now. Don’t know why. Don’t really care but I thought I’d run it by other folks who have the same love of the game I do...and who hate to see how all the injuries and withdrawals hurt us all in the long-run.

Fire away...just don't expect me to try to justify my thoughts...just as I don't expect you to do with yours. You can make it opinion or just plain 'gut' calls. You can say you hate it; I won't be offended.

We can all say....

It'll never happen.
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

Holy monkey this is long Marlene

I'm gonna leave it up and read it while I'm bored in class later today

Thanks for typing it up
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

This sounds very interesting Marlene, I like it
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Old 11-15-2005, 03:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

It would take a lifetime to read it and I have to go to school in a very little while but I did manage to read the first few paragraphs and I have something to comment on:

It is impossible, and I repeat, IMPOSSIBLE to have a Grand Slam held in Argentina or any country of South America. They had been considering having a TMS tourney and it's still quite impossible as well. Let alone a Grand Slam.
The money that runs here is not enough to hold such a huge tournament. Absolutely not enough. Even if tennis here is way more popular than in the US or some countries in Europe, having a GS here cannot even be considered, unfortunately.

I wish it would but yeah.

I'm gonna finish reading it later But I am totally for it!
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Old 11-15-2005, 06:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

wow marlene
ok, I read some of it, will read the rest later (forgive my ADD ) but I like the way you broke up the "seasons" into 2 months and stuff. I don't like the rotating slams though...will read more later
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

ADD...yeah, I guess it's long for an internet 'posting' environment...but sometimes my brain doesn't always think in short circuits. I'm hoping I'll have a peaceful night's sleep today...now that all of this...is out of my mind.

Thanks, all...for reading and commenting. Like I said...you may like/dislike anything...I've got some pretty thick skin. Open discussion is what it's all about. And despite saying I wouldn't 'defend'....I'll probably still have some comments (more likely...questions) back on your thoughts. But for now, continue to wail away...
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

OK I finally had a chance to read this over. I have a few thoughts that I wrote up during class...

~Wimbledon every other year?? Sorry, gotta disagree with that. It's the most famous tennis tournament in the world, I think, it's the most traditional, the one tourney the most associated with "tennis" - it's gotta stay the way it is.

~Towards that end, I think we should leave the slams alone (in terms of location and surface - except that I'd like to see Rebound Ace scrapped for some other kind of slow HC that's not as injury-prone)

~Point well-taken that there's a lot of moving around in other sports. But, these are the Grand Slams - rooted in long histories and traditions, I mean, NASCAR can move events around all it wants, but it's not gonna move the Indy 500. That'd just be...wrong. There's just too much tradition to mess with the slams. I feel quite strongly about this.

~Totally agree with DC every other year, or some other radical change. Something's gotta happen.

~Like you, I don't think there should be multiple seasons going on at once. There should be no clay after RG and CERTAINLY no clay after Wimby and the USO - make those guys play on HC in the US. There's no HC season in the US during the clay season. If the non-clay guys decide not to play in Europe on clay that's their problem and if the clay guys don't wanna play on US HC before the USO, that's their problem, but all those little clay tourneys after RG got to go, or move some of them up during the real clay season.

Getting rid of those clay tourneys after the USO would allow the whole fall schedule to be moved up a week or two, thus ending the season that much earlier.

~More grass - it used to be the single biggest surface for tennis. It's easier on the body than some others (points are shorter, it's a soft forgiving surface), and encourages certain skills (hello volleying where have you gone ). I think it's tragic that the pre-wimby grass schedule is only 2 weeks long, considering the tradition of the sport and that 3 of the 4 slams used to be on it, etc. And why is Newport after Wimbledon?

~One suggestion could be: Make IW and Miami regular 64-draw Masters like all the others, lasting only a week. That would free up two weeks in the spring - the clay season could then start earlier, RG could be 2 weeks earlier, there would be more time between RG and Wimby, and a longer grass season.

~Rankings/seeding: I Don't really have a problem with the way things are right now, except for a couple things. I hate the Race - until October or so, it's stupid, meaningless, and overly confusing. I don't necessarily disagree with your seeding suggestions, but it might be to confusing to practically implement, and it would also cause major logistics problems. Take for example, this year you had Basel, Lyon, and St. Petersburg all in the same week. The winners were Gonzalez, Roddick, and Johansson respectively. Who'd get the #1 seed in Paris? They all won the tourney. Moreover, the draw would have to be made for Paris before those tourneys would end.Same problem for a week after a slam where there's more than one tourney going on. After RG, there's 2 grass tourneys - how do the seeds get determined? So I don't see how this would logistically be possible. And also, who would be the #1 seed for the first tourneys of the year?

~Tourney cutoffs should be less than 6 weeks. I'd suggest a month. Too many times there is someone whose ranking goes up (or down) a lot in a short period, then they can't get into a tourney (think Blake at the USO, then not able to get into Madrid). I understand the tourneys like the time to advertise and whatnot, but I think shortening the cutoff period would help guarantee a little bit more that the players who are playing well a little closer to a tourney are the ones who get in directly.

~totally agree that something has to be done to entice the players not to skip these tourneys. Bring back the year-end pool for anyone who shows up at all 9 Masters events. Make it worth their while.

~also, limit appearance fees at smaller tourneys - too many players are playing too many of these small tourneys and you gotta think it's due in part to the big fat fees. These guys play too many of those and are then tired for the bigger tourneys that really need the top players all there and all healthy. Seeing Andy play tourneys like Houston and then dropping out of Monte Carlo is disgusting and it needs to be rectified somehow. If the appearance fees are limited, players may not be as inclined as they currently are to play all these extra little tourneys that are just doing more damage to their bodies and not doing much for their rankings. Plenty of other sports have salary caps and other such financial limitations.

~Another thought: More tourneys with Saturday finals, where appropriate (or start on Tuesday instead of Monday, also where appropriate). Something like Houston - the next tourney is in Monte Carlo the following week. a Saturday final would give those guys that one extra day to get there. they might be a teeny bit more likely to go. Same with, say, Queens and Halle - give those ones a Tuesday start for those late-comers who could use an extra day after RG, etc. This is up to the TDs, of course, but it might help just that teeny little bit. It might also help get bigger crowds, b/c there's one less day the tourney has to sell tickets for (no tourney is EVER Sold out on the first day) - plus one less day to pay all the staff and all the other costs that go into running a tourney.
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

i got distracted at the shortage of grass and wimbly. yeah, that's just not right. one of those current THREE clay masters needs to be replaced with a grass one. and yeah, that's all i have to say until i go up and read the rest. d:
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

Quote:
Originally Posted by am&a
i got distracted at the shortage of grass and wimbly. yeah, that's just not right. one of those current THREE clay masters needs to be replaced with a grass one. and yeah, that's all i have to say until i go up and read the rest. d:
I concur.
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

okay, i got distracted again. plus i noticed deb has a huge post that probably addresses everything i would mention and more but i'll read that next. d:

anyway, i already have a problem with there being TWO masters in a row at any given time, and you want to have THREE? isn't that a bit exhaustive?
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:46 PM   #11
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

Deb, why must you always do that? Give other people a chance to say something!

Kidding, but if I said what I was going to, it would just repeat everything you did.
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:14 PM   #12
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule



It's ok, repeat me guys

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Old 11-15-2005, 09:36 PM   #13
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

I'm very self, self, self, so got as far as the rotating Wimbledon and got . Nobody is touching wimbledon, that is my home for a whole fortnight and where would I live then. Otherwise what I read so far, seemed OK. I shall be back when I finish the work I should be doing, to comment further- though I'm sure Deb covered the basics and then some (bless you Deb ).

Thanks for typing all that up though, Marlene, it looks very interesting.

edit: As a fellow Tim fan, Marlene, I thought you of all people would not be advocating less Wimbledon's. What of poor Tim's chances then?
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:48 PM   #14
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkFeatherBoa
edit: As a fellow Tim fan, Marlene, I thought you of all people would not be advocating less Wimbledon's. What of poor Tim's chances then?
What they've always been, nil.
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Old 11-16-2005, 01:15 AM   #15
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Default Re: A Proposal to Overhaul the Schedule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meno
What they've always been, nil.


I actually get confused by the concept of rotating Slams; I'm not sure this will be good for tennis because there will be too many things to remember for the casual fan. Rather, I'd have the Slams be the permanent fixtures in the year. Except... can the AO move to a little bit later in January please? And maybe the FO could be played a week or two earlier so a decent grass season can be had building up into Wimbledon. Some tinkering really needs to be done about creating particular 'seasons' around the Slams, though. I like the idea of having four seasons in a tennis year; it will certainly help organize the clutter of tournaments throughout the year.
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