Should Tennis Try this Idea?

Nov 18, 2021, 11:13:27 AM | by Craig Gabriel

Chair umpires lined up in their seats
Tennis has tried some innovative ideas in the past. Some have stayed, others like round robin matches in the early rounds of regular tour events fortunately died a quick death. Craig Gabriel says an idea came up during the Laver Cup that could be worth trying.

 

The Next Gen Finals that the ATP stages in Milan is almost like an experimental model. Different ideas are tried out. Maybe at some stage they will make their way onto the tour at large. Who knows? 

One example that was introduced from the first year was the towel racks. Let the player get their own towel if they need it rather than the ball kid doing it. 

It cut down on the trips to the towel because a player didn’t want to take the extra steps, there was no runner to bring it to them. In coronavirus times fewer trips to the towel has been even more evident and that’s a good thing because it had got to the ridiculous stage. But the concept did start at the NextGen Finals.

There is a different scoring system at the Next Gen Finals as well; sets are to four with a tiebreak at 3-3. Fans are able to move around rather than waiting for a change of ends. Well that’s the norm anyway but maybe not in New York where they couldn’t care less. In the Big Apple if you were to ask someone to wait till a change of ends, the person would probably do their best Robert de Niro response: “You talkin to me? You talkin to me?”

But you get the idea.

And while It’s almost like experimental theatre with the Next Gen Finals, someone like Stefanos Tsitsipas a previous NextGen winner, and who really enjoyed the experience, suggested it would be difficult implementing many of the experiments.

“There was a lot of intensity every single game you played and an ambiance like I’ve never experienced before (but) I don’t know,” Tsitsipas said. “Tennis has been played a certain way for a number of years so it’s tough to imagine a format like this. It could be an exciting format for the future, but I really don’t know how to answer right now.” 

So, then, here is an idea that has not been tried and it was arguably first raised by Jim Courier during Laver Cup when it was played in Boston in September.

Why doesn’t the chair umpire call out what the moment is in a match? Yes, the chair umpire calls out the score and tries to keep control of the crowd, well unless you are in New York and that same person shouts back at the chair umpire “you talkin to me? You talkin to me?” 

Chair umpire Kader Nouni
 

The chair umpire will have discussions with the players when they are not happy or if a player challenges a call via the electronic review system, the umpire will say “the ball was out, call stands. Smith has two challenges remaining”. You know that sort of stuff. 

By the way don’t you prefer having real lines people on a court rather than all electronic calls?

So then when it is at important points or parts of a match why not have the chair umpire call out the score and follow up with “break point” as an example?  Then there is a call for “set point” and “match point”.

Best of all,  it’s the final of a major, or a Masters 1000 or the year-end championships, and it is the point to win the title. The umpire makes their call: “40-15”. Then adds: “CHAMPIONSHIP POINT SMITH!” The bellowing voice of a chair umpire like Kader Nouni would create goosebumps. 

The crowd goes nuts and the atmosphere that has built up throughout the match has now reached an even higher crescendo. The roar of the crowd is brilliant. 

There is an even greater highlight to all the crucial stages in a match and it’s giving the fans a bit more input. They watch and see the increased pressure on the players. How do their handle the situation? Who will crack and feel the further emphasis of the situation?

Worth a try? What do you think?