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JAK'S NEW ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES

By Jak Beardsworth

I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing on the Tennis Channel's recent coverage of the 2019 Barcelona Open.

An umpire in a black coat flips a coin at the tennis net between to tennis players dressed in white. Old School
Just prior to the start of an early round all Spanish match between veterans Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez the chair umpire, player favorite Fergus Murphy, met both players at the net, as is customary, for the traditional coin flip to determine choice of serve-return-side. But Murphy wasn't holding a commemorative coin, he was carrying a tablet for what turned out to be an electronic coin flip that would interface with the jumbo scoreboard screen for fan viewing with each player's face on one side of the on screen "coin."

Blasphemy.

Tennis has made many great innovations over the years, some grudgingly, that have advanced the game forward out of the, thankfully, bygone country club, shamateurism days. Having made my first mark in the game in the 60's (yes with wooden rackets strung with gut), I have been the beneficiary of witnessing almost six decades of positive changes.

This was surely NOT one of them.

Here's my top 10, to the credit of the game's alphabet governing bodies, to name a few:

  1. White to optic yellow balls;
  2. Tie-breakers;
  3. Computerized line calling (Hawkeye etc.);
  4. Player line call challenges;
  5. Electronic net cord detection (too bad for Bud Collins' mythic Fingers Fortescue);
  6. On court posted radar timed serve speeds;
  7. On court between point time clocks;
  8. Changeover time limits;
  9. Injury time outs;
  10. On court medical attention.

One can only surmise that the Sangria must have been flowing freely when the Barcelona brass decided that the traditional coin flip, with an actual coin, was deemed to be apparently antiquated and not modern enough in the digital age.

Innovation simply for the sake of innovation itself is not innovation? No doubt these blue blazers decided that today's fans would rather watch a giant TV screen than the actual principals live on court in which the umpire normally, clearly orchestrated the results without being plugged in.

Hey fellas, check the demographic in the seats!

Are these the same bozos who dyed their beautiful red terra battue center court blue a few years ago? Actually it turns out it was not them. That was at the ensuing event at Madrid leading up to the French Open. Nonetheless, maybe there's something in the water that irrigates the Spanish vineyards.

What's really needed these days, and I mean really, is an on court decibel meter to curb the ridiculous off the charts yelling, screaming, and bizarre groaning of certain players at the shot making moment, both male and female alike – interestingly, on the men's side it's coincidentally (?) the Spanish leading the way with their sound barrier breaking, sustained moaning exhalations

This epidemic is ruining the game, and influencing far too many developing juniors, some next gen pros, world-wide. Tennis is not Olympic power lifting.

While watching an ATP 250 series match a while back a journeyman American player became so frustrated and enraged with his French opponent's sustained screaming on every shot at the top of his lungs, amplified on the indoor court, he screamed out at the top of his lungs with a menacing stare while heading for his chair on the changeover: "Shut the f--- up." If memory serves he received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct from the chair umpire.

How about something like this: First a warning is issued if a player exceeds the set decibel limit. Thereafter, unlimited point penalties occur without ever reaching automatic loss of set or match. Just loos of pont. Simple. Knowledgeable fans would grow weary of the deafening offender and voice their displeasure over such boorish behavior.

Now that would be a welcome next innovation to our beautiful game.

Copyright© 2019 by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

COMMENTS WELCOME: JB1tennis@comcast.net

Past Essays

  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]
  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]
  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.