November 10th, 2017
Friday Tennis Blog: 17-Year Fed Cup Wait Over? | Scoring the Scoring Changes | More
17 YEARS LATER, RAYMOND WITNESS TO POTENTIAL FED CUP RAISING AGAIN
Former Florida Gator Lisa Raymond has a long view as to how difficult it is to rally the highest-ranked personnel to win a Fed Cup title. The U.S. last won in 2000, when Raymond was a doubles player on the championship squad. Seventeen years later, Raymond is a coach for the team under U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi, a squad that’s a huge favorite to beat Belarus this weekend.
The U.S. will lead with reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Top 10-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe. Seventeen years ago the U.S. team was also stacked with three players to rank No. 1: Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati.
“There was such good camaraderie,” Raymond said of the 2000 U.S. Fed Cup team. “When you have Jennifer Capriati playing No. 3 singles, she’s a Grand Slam champion, that’s pretty insane.”
Rinaldi’s camaraderie-building and the easy friendships between Stephens and Vandeweghe, Madison Keys (currently battling a wrist injury), Bethanie Mattek-Sands (out with a leg injury), and team members Shelby Rogers and Alison Riske have the U.S. Fed Cup team on the verge of a new winning era. Watch this weekend starting Saturday morning on Tennis Channel.
CHANGE THE GAME OF TENNIS, OR CHANGE HOW IT’S MARKETED TO YOUTH?
Millennials, as we’ve heard, have real short attention spans. It’s hard to compete with their phones. And their attention spans are single-handedly changing tennis, as the sport freaks out over getting the next generation tuning in. But is tennis going in the wrong direction to capture Millennial eyeballs?
No other sports — golf, the NBA or MLB — are considering major wholesale changes to their scoring like tennis (short sets, no-ad, third-set super-tiebreaks, etc.). The ATP, WTA and the Grand Slams have all indicated they’re open to the ideas sometime in 2018-20. Shot clocks on players to speed up play and Hawkeye and smaller tweaks are one thing, but as Rafael Nadal said, no one can reference a classic one-hour match.
“All sports need to improve and adapt to the new things,” Nadal said earlier this year. “But I am not sure if that’s the way, to make the matches quicker.” Instead of changing the scoring to reach young fans, how about changing the way it’s marketed? Both the men’s and women’s tours and sports channels are driving more matches to pay-to-stream only, which is not helping growth. How about better use of social media, better promotion of up-and-coming stars, better/more exciting event presentation, better phone apps, better…everything. The recent weeks’ WTA Elite Trophy and Next Gen ATP Finals events couldn’t be watched without pay-to-stream services in the U.S., is that the way to attract new fans? What changes, innovations or improvements does pro tennis need — or not need — to grab more eyeballs? Share you opinion in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
Remember the old Bancroft wood racquets? Well now they’re making beer…USTA National President Katrina Adams was named to Ebony magazine’s “Power 100” list…Oath, a subsidiary of Verizon, announced its global Board of Advisors led by founding chairwoman Serena Williams. Oath is “a values-led company committed to building brands people love.”…The Next Gen ATP Finals draw party got a little out of hand earlier this week..High school and college players, check out the latest round of internships at the USTA National Campus…This weekend’s Combo 50 & Over Sectional Championships could produce a new leader in the 2017 USTA Florida League Championship Cup race…Serena Williams’ trainer says she is ready to kick it into gear this week in West Palm Beach, training ahead of January’s Australian Open…Jack Sock is rolling in the media attention as the new American No. 1 with a first-time appearance at the ATP Finals beginning this weekend. CNN cornered him to take the Sock Challenge…Florida-based Bob and Mike Bryan won the ATP’s Fans’ Favorite award (voted by fans) this week for the 13th straight year.
Medvedev Goes to Jared for Thursday Win at 21-under Next Gen ATP Finals; Main Event ATP Finals Begin Sunday
American Jared Donaldson, 0-2 in round robin play entering Thursday at the Next Gen ATP Finals, won the first set before falling 3-4(3), 4-2, 4-3(1), 4-0 in the short-set scoring format to Russian Daniil Medvedev, ending his stay at the inaugural event for the top players age 21 and under in Milan, Italy.
“Jared had nothing to lose at all, played amazing the first couple of sets,” the Russian said afterwards. “I managed to halt this, it was very tough. I’m happy with my win and I hope to be through to the semis.”
Donaldson finished 0-3 in round robin play but was the only young American to qualify for the event spotlighting the next generation of ATP stars. The event is testing innovations such as short-set scoring, playing “let” serves, a player “shot clock” between points, no linespeople and Hawk-Eye making all calls, the ability for players and coaches to see match stats, and in-match coaching.
The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals begins Sunday featuring the Top 8 players on the ATP rankings. The Pete Sampras Group features Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin. The Boris Becker Group is led by Roger Federer with Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and American Jack Sock. The top two in each group after round robin play will advance into the semifinals.
They Said It
“I’d be lying if I said 18 months ago I was mentally prepared to win matches like this. It’s something I’ve worked really hard towards.”
— Jack Sock after winning the Paris Masters title
“It’s very hard to find any motivation after US Open because it’s such a big tournament for the American players. It was mostly kind of [coach] Pat [Cash] dragging me through the fall season in reality. I didn’t really even know Top 10 was capable from just ranking points, all the stuff that goes with the WTA rankings.”
— CoCo Vandeweghe
“It sounds from what I hear that she is looking to come back to tennis and everything that she has shown over her career just makes you believe that if she has that in her sights then she will go after it and achieve it.”
— Steffi Graf, whose Slam record of 22 was broken by Serena Williams this year, on Williams topping Margaret Court’s 24 Slams
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
6:30am — Fed Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel
6am — Fed Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel