Hello and welcome to the second issue of Tennis inbox. This week, we spare a thought to everyone else affected on tour by the coronavirus pandemic (other than the players). Plenty of coverage has focused on how players are struggling, but not enough on the men and women who make the tour go round. The ITF also has new announcements, and lastly, we want your thoughts and suggestions on how tennis without spectators could be made interesting and engaging. Anything goes—post your ideas in the comments section at the end of this issue! Read on to find out more.
What about everyone else on tour?
The focus of how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the tour has mostly been player-centric. Fair enough. They are the ones who draw crowds, take huge financial risks at the start of their careers, and spend decades honing their skills to perform at a high level. But what about everyone else? What about the traveling town of administrators, broadcasters, marketers, and equipment specialists who make their way around the globe, hopping from one tournament to the next?
Sportswriter Christopher Clarey took a look: Ron Yu is a stringer who works for Priority One, the stringing company responsible for looking after the stringing and customization needs of players like Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray (to name a few). In a short interview in the New York Times, Yu details how he’s had to take up a data entry job to make ends meet. Boutique stringing companies like Priority One make money from players while they are competing and by stringing at tournament sites. Providing an interesting insight of how the equipment-customization/care economy works on the pro tour, Yu notes that:
“The way our contracts work with the players, they pay us for the stringing and the customizing when they are playing and traveling and when we are at tournaments. So currently now revenue has gone to basically zero.”
ITF offers more money to more players
In last week’s issue, we covered a $6 million player-relief fund put together by the ATP, WTA, ITF, and the four Grand Slams. With the recent extended suspension of all ITF Tournaments at least until Friday 31st July, the ITF has also announced an additional support program aimed at helping players ranked 501–700. Further details about this scheme will be announced following an ITF Board meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday 2nd June.
What are your ideas for making tennis without spectators exciting and engaging?
What will it be like to watch tennis on TV or via live stream if there are no spectators in the stands? Interactive crowd noise, blacking out empty seats in indoor venues to create atmosphere, headset coaching at change of ends, and holographic crowds were all options that were explored by The Tennis Podcast hosts David Law, Catherine Whitaker, and Matthew Roberts in a discussion of how to make tennis without spectators exciting.
Though we’re not sure about the holographs, we’d be interested to hear your ideas on making tennis without a crowd engaging for at-home viewers. Give us your best suggestions in the comment section at the end of this issue!
Single-leg work for tennis players
The instagram page @workoutfortennis describes itself as “a guide to enhance athletic performance on court.” An exercise aggregator with nearly 24,000 followers, they seem to be doing something right. Today, we highlight the single-leg training exercises they have posted. They are often forgotten but can be highly useful for us multi-directional athletes.
Edberg versus Agassi
It’s always fun to go back in time to see how the game used to be played. Stefan Edberg won six Grand Slams and was a major proponent of attacking the net. Though serve & volley is mostly dead today thanks to string and frame advancements and slower courts and balls, this 1990 classic allows us to witness a net rusher in his prime. Edberg used every opportunity to sneak his way in and finish points at net. His slightly unorthodox service motion, which resulted in a high-bouncing serve, is also something to behold. Edberg prevailed 6–4, 5–7, 7–6, 7–6.
An adjustment to our publishing schedule
In last week’s issue, we mentioned that we would be publishing an article this week on what the Universal Tennis Rating is. We’ve had a slight restructure of our content schedule since then, so that article won’t be available until later. Our schedule now is a Tennis inbox issue on Thursday and an original interview or article every third Tuesday.
Next week, we’ll publish an interview with Nathaniel Lammons. Lammons has a career-high ranking of #91 on the ATP Doubles Tour and spoke to Tennis inbox about the struggles of life on tour at the lower levels.