Monday, July 23, 2007

You Vill Play...

This article appeared in a New York City newspaper not particularly known for it's sports. Last I checked it was one of the freebies we have so many of here.

Note: The Sun is not one of NYC's free newspapers. Thanks to mmmm8 over at TAT for the information.

Written by one Tom Perrotta the article proposes that after Wimbledon the top players be dragooned into playing the U S Open series. How dare Federer take time off? Nadal playing his optional on clay in Stuttgart? And where the hell were Daveydenko and Youzhny not to mention that guy Novak Djokovic? Why aren't they playing in Los Angeles instead of "minor" tournaments in Stuttgart, Umag and Amersfoort? Kitzbuhel? Fuhgeddaboutit. You vill play in the United States or instead of being ranked number three Djokovic you may be ranked number seven come US Open time.

And that is what this little piece is throwing out for tennisheads and players to digest. Since the "Eurotrash" won't come until they feel like it we'll see to it that your seeding in Flushing is in the toilet. The idea is that just like Wimbledon does special seeding (just ask Venus Williams about that special #23 she got this year) the USTA should seed based on performance in the US Open Series. What a wonderful idea no?

No. There has been grousing about the draws at Stanford, the first WTA stop on the Road Trip, and Indianapolis, the second ATP stop after Los Angeles. If you haven't erased the Blake/Stepanek final from your VCR or DVR take a look at the winners names on the wall. One year is missing. That's the year Wayne Ferreira of South Africa won the event. That's the way to entice those furriners to come play your event folks. I wonder what will happen to Radek's name in two years?

But enough about that. Back to the grousing about the draws. The top women's draws in the United States are both surnamed Williams. Venus just played Fed Cup and is doing her bit for WTT and Billie Jean King. Remember Billie Jean King? They named a tennis center in Queens after her. Anyhow Venus needs a break. The swelling in Serena Williams left hand seems to be going down. It's obvious she won't be playing much. As far as the women are concerned the up and coming players are all from - Europe! Are they going to drag Justine Henin across the Atlantic in chains? Will Amelie Mauresmo be kidnapped at sea and thrown into steerage to play at Stanford?

The Road to Roland Garros is full of the top players both male and female. I understand that the US Open series wants to improve the prestige of their events. I'm a fan of the US Open Series and would like to see it grow. I'd also like to see American men and women playing in the dirt in the Spring instead of citing their "schedules" just like the Europeans do at this time of year.

But enough of my ranting. Here is an excerpt from and a link to the article. You make your own decision about the spirit behind the proposal.

The early summer didn't matter as much to American tennis 25 years ago. For the last few years, Arlen Kantarian, the CEO of the USTA, has made this point, backed up by data he totes around in his briefcase, to any reporter who will listen. In the 1980s, according to the USTA, men's tennis had about 20 tournaments in America and 35 in Europe. There are now more events on the tour, yet only 13 in America. The women's tour has gone from 20 events in America and 10 to 15 in Europe, in the 1980s, to 25 in Europe and 11 in America.

The demise of events in Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Tampa, and, after this year, San Diego, has put more pressure on the USTA to have a strong summer. Players, of course, don't think too much about this. Federer doesn't need to play a lot of tournaments, or even a lot of tennis: Not too many people take a week off during Wimbledon and still win it. Nadal, who has an outside chance at the no. 1 ranking if he dominates the rest of the season, probably could have won with two injured knees and a broken racket in Stuttgart, where he didn't lose a set.

What purpose does a clay court tournament in July serve a global sport that has a full clay season from April to mid-June? Stuttgart and Umag, Croatia, can keep their tournaments — by no means should we try to upset another tennis economy. One can't blame Nadal or Djokovic for wanting to play these events, either. The point is, players of their caliber shouldn't have that option.

When a tournament contributes so little to the sport as a whole, in terms of marketing and money, the tour shouldn't want a big star to waste his or her time there. Players ranked inside the top 10, at least, shouldn't be allowed. After Wimbledon, the U.S. Open Series should be the next stop, not Stuttgart, Umag, or Sopot, Poland. And this isn't just about favoring America. The same can be said for our tournaments and players in early spring: Andy Roddick and James Blake should not be playing on red clay in Houston when they could be in Europe with the rest of the best during the real clay court season.

Entire Article

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