Sep/17

25

In An Innovative State of Mind

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By Scoop Malinowski

Everybody is excited about the two new innovations in professional tennis this year, the sensational Laver Cup contested this past weekend in Prague, Czech Republic and the upcoming #NEXTGEN Finals in Milan, Italy for 21 and under ATP pros.

We know tennis is a traditional sport which is historically resistant to change and innovation but something is in the air this year and things are changing and so far the public response to Laver Cup and #NEXTGEN Finals has been extremely favorable.

The ATP’s last test run of an innovation was the Round Robin format which was utilized in Las Vegas and Delray Beach however the concept was not very well received by the players, the media or the fans.

Maybe the timing was just not right, maybe it was a bad idea. It doesn’t matter. Change and innovations should never be stopped. The pursuit for perfection or improvement should never stop.

In that spirit, I have thought of a few more new innovations which could possibly enhance the WTA and ATP Tour experiences.

Working on Facing Steffi Graf, one of her peers Samantha Smith said she first saw a 13 year old Steffi at the BMW event in Devonshire Park where they used to have an under 21 event. Under 18 junior events are wonderful and it’s incredible to see the future champions of the sport and how talented they are at such a young age. I think there should be more under 21 special events for the WTA and ATP and also, conversely, over 31 or 33 events for veteran players still trying to hang in there.

And while we’re at it, let’s get really, really creative… How about a special wood racquet event?

A small 250 event where sets only go up to four games in a set.

An event where every player has to wear all black or all solid any color.

How about a tournament with no ball kids or lines people, just a chair umpire, and the players call their own lines.

How about a doubles draw that is random draw and players have to play with a random partner chosen by a random draw.

I have other innovations too. I heard a lot of complaints about the new adidas line at the US open created by Pharrell. How about Nike, adidas hiring former champions like Agassi, McEnroe, Sampras to design a collection? Maybe they could retro some of their favorite uniforms. Federer and Rafa could also get involved, designing a future collection based on their past favorites. Do you think that would sell? Of course it will. Automatically.

Laver Cup has sparked a new wave of creativity and innovation which I hope tennis continues to consider.

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29 comments

  • Bryan · September 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I like the Next Gen Finals but dislike Laver Cup. It totally wrecked St Petersberg and Metz, plus there are too many exhibitions already. Players complain about the long season yet keep entering exhibitions, extending the season by a several weeks. Can’t have it both ways.

  • jg · September 25, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Speaking of exhibitions, I saw the Battle of the Sexes this weekend, and was surprised how good it was, although catch some of the shadow tennis players forehands, some of the strokes ( not many) were modern forehands ( only a tennis prose reader would catch it) but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I read none of the footage was real but it was really the voice of Howard Cosell because they thought no one would believe what was coming out of his mouth in this day and age. Scoop or Dan, you writing a movie review?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    jg, surprised to hear you liked it so much, I had no interest to seeing it before your very positive praise of the movie. The last tennis movie I saw was awful and we stopped watching after ten minutes, Break Point or something. Not to be confused with Keanu Reeves in Point Break. The only tennis movie I liked was Strangers On A Train or Dial M For Murder, both Hitchcocks. Jg, did the BOTS movie mention anything about King promising a rematch to Riggs and then breaking her word on it?

  • JG · September 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    no mention, but they did say before the match that Riggs Evert would be 1 million dollars. I wonder what Margaret Court thinks of the movie (not very flattering to her)

  • catherine · September 25, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Billie Jean only played Riggs because Margaret played him and lost and BJ felt she had to balance the books. At the time there wasn’t much mention of Margaret. She was as good a player as BJ but emotionally more fragile. Riggs flattered her which was the right approach.
    There was never any question of Chris playing Riggs.
    BJ beating him put a stop to all that nonsense. I’m surprised it’s still talked about. Was a piece of 70s silliness that didn’t really mean much ultimately. Except to BJ who did put her reputation on the line. She wasn’t that popular then you may be surprised to learn.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 26, 2017 at 12:11 am

    I’ll weigh in on all of this and say that all this innovation is absolutely brilliant!!!

    Tennis needs to appeal to younger generation guys like Kyrgios, Thiem, Shapo and Tiafoe and making them play dumb 250s like Metz and Istanbul are just silly. No wonder Kyrgios gets bored. Two weeks in a row he was locked in – yes he lost to Goffin and Fed but he was amped up unlike a Tuesday afternoon in Nice.

    Whoever said – I think Scoop? – that the ATP and ITF should be worried is 100 percent correct. If Fed is behind this idea, good on him and you know the players get a load of the profits from this event – way more than the greedy fat cats of the ITF would allow them.

    I say down with Davis Cup since it’s a dud and sucks. Laver Cup is the tennis Ryder Cup – which I have attended –
    and we all want a piece of Europe next year!

  • Hartt · September 26, 2017 at 7:30 am

    So Donaldson beat Tomic easily in Chengdu, 6-4, 6-2. Apparently Donaldson still hopes to make Milan. At this rate, how much longer will Tomic be on the tour? His ranking is so low he is in Challenger territory. How long will he stick it out?

  • Hartt · September 26, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Just checked live rankings. Donaldson is No. 6 in the NextGen race. Had not realised he was that high. And Tomic is at No. 161, 1 spot below Felix Auger-Aliassime.

  • catherine · September 26, 2017 at 7:48 am

    Hartt – and just think only a few years ago Tomic was touted as the NBT – I remember Kevin Mitchell in the Guardian was a particular fan. I feel sorry for him – he needs another job.

    Wuhan – Simona out to Kasatkina SS. And that’s Simona with 2 coaches. Cahill’s not with her again until Singapore. Andrei Pavel is around now. Any occ I wonder ?

  • catherine · September 26, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Simona failed to hold serve once in the 1st set. She should’ve played in Tokyo instead of taking a month off. Kasatkina is seriously good though – dtl forehand is a bit like AK’s, who beat her in Tokyo.

  • catherine · September 26, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Hartt –
    Just to say I’m leaving this site, owing to what you might call ‘creative differences’ – might catch you on your other site athough I won’t be posting there.
    All the best.

  • Hartt · September 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Catherine, am sorry you are leaving. I enjoyed reading your comments.

    All the best to you as well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Duke, thanks for your supporting my innovations. I just thought of another – adding the top ten juniors into a doubles exo with ATP top hundred ranked players. Be fun to see juniors with pros, just like mixed is always interesting. Or even try it at a Grand Slam. Short draw of sixteen teams maybe. Ryder Cup is the best event in pro golf by a country mile. Wouldn’t it be something if Laver Cup could become the best premier event in pro tennis? It’s possible.

  • Hartt · September 26, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    In Canadian tennis news, Felix Auger-Aliassime is playing the Tiburon Challenger today. He has a good chance of making the top 150 this season. Frank Dancevic, at the other end of the age spectrum, won his Tiburon match over American Sarkissian.I just never know what to expect from Frank. I thought he was going to try doubles, but here he is, still battling it out in singles competition.

    Shapo was scheduled to play a Challenger in Orleans, France, but withdrew on the first day of the Laver Cup. I was surprised he was even in the Challenger. At a ranking of No. 51 thought he would not be playing Challengers now. It looks like his next event is Tokyo. (He may need to play qualies, I am not sure.) He said his goal for the season was top 50, and then to consolidate that ranking.

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    So sad that Catherine is leaving. I know there’s not much WTA talk but she was a respected voice for sure.

  • Dan Markowitz · September 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Jon,

    I will do a movie review about “The Battle of the Sexes.” I intend to see it this weekend. I’m a big fan of Steve Carrell, think he’s a brilliant actor. Really loved his performance in the wrestling movie, one of my favorite movies of all time, “Foxcatcher.” Vince sent me an article today from the Houston Chronicle about his role in the movie, but I haven’t read it yet.

    My wife loved “Wimbledon” the movie. I’ll give you my unvarnished opinion this weekend. But I disagree in that the Kings-Riggs match wasn’t a very important landmark sporting event. It pitted a man in his fifties against Billie Jean, but I remember thinking Riggs was going to wipe the court with her. I thought his game was too tricky for her. Boy, was I wrong, but it really elevated tennis from just a fringe sport to being a sport in the American consciousness. Everyone watched that match and until then, no American tennis player or match captivated the country in nearly that way.

    Tennis is much bigger now, but I still think a Mac-Serena match right now, between the Aussie O and Indian Wells when tennis takes a bit of a siesta, would be thrilling and draw the same kind of frenzied interest and audience as BJK-Riggs and the tennis would be much better.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 27, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Battle of the Sexes seems like a big politicized event. Didn’t Connors whip Navratilova with the alleys years later in Vegas? But the media just totally swept that story under the rug as if it never happened and it’s forgotten now. It’s like the media agenda is to sustain King beating Riggs forever and will never let a reversal or second event happen. Even though I read that King has promised Riggs a rematch but renegged on that promise. Serena would gain so much more fame if she were to take on McEnroe who is clearly interested in playing against Serena. Imagine how much such a match could raise for charity or aid for good causes like Puerto Rico, Houston, etc. But Serena of course has a lot to lose, and she seems afraid, lacking the courage that King showed in taking on Riggs in such a high profile event. Or did Riggs really tank the match because he bet on himself, as I’ve been told by some interesting insiders. Until Serena stops dodging Mac and gives Mac or any man the chance to regain the mythical Battle of the Sexes “crown” or “championship”, it’s hard to be interested in Riggs vs King which, in my view, has been protected and politicized to promote feminism and equality and probably to portray Riggs and Margaret Court negatively. But Dan if you give it a thumbs up and affirm that Riggs and Court are not misportrayed negatively, I will watch it. A documentary about the Kings vs Riggs with actually footage and pre-and post- match interviews and all the hoopla would be more interesting. Has that doc already been done? Foxcatcher was a very enjoyable interesting movie.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 27, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Speaking of Battle of the Sexes, my showdown with Michelle Larcher De Brito in Longboat Key FL a couple of years ago didn’t get any media attention at all :) Well maybe I should be glad because I got whooped 6-1. I just looked today and Larcher De Brito hasn’t played since July and her ranking has fallen to 341 at age 24. Not looking good right now for MLDB who has beaten Ivanovic, Sharapova, Kuznetsova…

  • Duke Carnoustie · September 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    I don’t know this story about playing a female pro. And how old are you, by the way and your playing background? Seems like a 6-1 set isn’t too bad, no?

  • JG · September 28, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Interesting the skiing federation announced the will have some coed races this year, I am seeing more coed Jr events in tennis and coed high school teams. Lindsay Vonn says shes looking forward to racing.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Duke, I had a break point at 5-2 too but missed the return. I didn’t play her with the full intensity because I knew her confidence was down and I was content to play her game and feed her balls she liked to dictate with . I actually think I could have done better with more vicious ruthless mindset. I was playing to build her confidence actually. I will let Dan describe my game, he knows it pretty well.

  • dan markowitz · September 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Scoop is one of the best 50+ players in the land. He’s very quick around the court and has a very deceiving forehand and backhand where he’s very good at passing shots. He’s quite rare in that he didn’t start playing the game seriously until he was into his 20’s I think, but he does have a hockey background so he’s very good at moving and getting in and out of corners.

    His serve and net game used to be a weakness, but he’s worked hard at both and now they are both solid. Can he play a 6-3 set against a good female pro like de Brito? I don’t think so, but I’d say he could probably beat a lower D 1 female college player and I know even recently he’s beaten lower D 1 male college players, even a No. 1 on his team, I think Ryder in New Jersey.

  • Chazz · September 28, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    He’s also a pusher if he needs to be. I learned that from Scoop himself! :)

  • catherine · September 29, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Duke –
    You’ll be pleased to know I’m not leaving :) See comments below. I’ll be back later with a post for Scoop.
    Would like to add a note about Ashleigh Barty to those on another thread – she reminds me so much of Aussie women of yore – great all-court game, lovely backhand volley – and I’ve saw her take a match point with a dropshot service return! I also like her perfunctory recognition of a win — just raises her racquet and then gets on with stuff. Very matter of fact and Australian. Some girls prance around like they’ve won Wimbledon. Don’t think she’ll bt Ostapenko though.

  • catherine · September 29, 2017 at 3:07 am

    ‘I saw her’ of course.

  • catherine · September 29, 2017 at 7:28 am

    And Barty did beat Ostapenko – 0 2nd set.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Today is officially “Catherine Is Not Leaving Day.” A cause for a mini celebration :) Welcome back Catherine we are glad to have you back.

  • catherine · September 29, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Scoop-

    re a documentary on Riggs-King match – yes, that would have been a very good idea but as far as I know was a missed opportunity. I watched highlights of the match the following day in 1973 and years later saw the match again at BBCTV centre in connection with a program about BJK.
    But as far as I know the footage was never used and may not even exist now. Might in the US.
    Grace Lichtenstein’s book ‘A Long Way Baby’ gives a good impression of the run-up to the match from the players’ angle.

  • catherine · September 29, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Scoop –
    Thank you for your kind words ! I’ve just posted a lengthy piece on Mandlikova etc in celebration :)

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