Monday, January 25, 2010

Continuous Play

Building on my last post regarding the drama of tennis, I'd like to make another move that would enhance spectator appeal.

I'm not sure when the rules for changing sides changed from "continuous play" to "have a seat, get a drink, towel off, and get a breather", but I'd like to go back to the old rule. My guess is that TV wanted regularly scheduled commercial breaks. I like televised tennis, so if commercial breaks need to happen every two games, then so be it.

But from a spectator's perspective, the delays on change of ends are ridiculous. The newish rule of not taking a break when changing ends following the first game of a set is a step in the right direction. I'd go further. I'd give players a longer break between sets, but not allow them to do more than to towel off and get a drink as they change ends within a set. The end change during a set would resemble the first game and within tiebreak side changes we see now. Give the players a sit-down break between sets. Three or four minutes seems reasonable to me.

If TV needs more time, then TV matches could have their own rules. How many of us play on TV anyway? Juniors, high school, college, and adult tournament players don't need to sit so much. Tennis points aren't that long in the first place. Players recover plenty between points. They don't need a whole minute to sit around every two games. Let's get on with it and keep moving.

It was OK for Laver and Rosewall in the 1969 French Open. It's OK for the rest of us now.

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