A Quick Hit
Tennis forms a central part of our culture during the month of January. We live and breathe the sport and we cannot stop watching it. There are impressive shows of athleticism. There are Serena William’s controversial courtside antics. And there are the amazing publicity stunts. But time is of the essence when attracting younger generations (with markedly shorter attention spans!).
Sports are exciting entertainment. Two competitors going head to head in a game of skill. And it is even more exciting when these two competitors are very evenly matched . . . at first. Everybody in Australia is aware of the yearly late night mandatory viewing of a Men’s Singles match which ends at 2.00am in the morning. It definitely is exciting, but it can run the risk of running too long. Extending to a point where the audience could lose interest in the face of a never-ending tiebreak.
This behaviour has influenced the way we all play tennis with the introduction of sudden death deuces and the general limit to best of three sets matches. We want quick results. Predominantly because we lack the attention span to sit through a many hour marathon. Well, this has been noted and tonight heralds the start of a new tennis trend in Australia.
Much like the cricket introduced the quick 20/20 games, tennis is now being introduced to its equivalent. Here are the rules:
- Singles matches will be played as the best of three short sets.
- Each set is the first to four games, with a short tiebreak to be played at 3-all.
- The tiebreak is first to five points, with a sudden death point at 4-all.
- There is no advantage scoring in games. At deuce, the receiver will choose which side of the court the ball will be served to for a sudden-death point.
- No service lets will be called, meaning that when the ball hits the net cord on a serve and bounces in the right service box, it’s play on.
- At the change of ends, players are not allowed to sit down. Play must continue within 60 seconds.
- There will only be a short break of 90 seconds between sets. Players are allowed to sit down at this point.
Not only does this create a much quicker and attention grabbing viewing experience, it also allows the sport to be incorporated into everyday lives. For full-time workers it is often hard to find the motivation and time to go for a run after work, let along fit in a full match of tennis. This condensed product manages to provide a much more appealing proposition. Sets are only four games long. Deuces have become sudden deaths. Service lets are a thing of the past. And there is no sitting down in between games.
By listening to the needs and desires of the general public, tennis has managed to not only keep the attention of its viewers but also make physical involvement with the brand much more appealing. Sounds like a win-win which is sure to attract many interested potential players after tonight’s launch match between Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt. (That is if you haven’t already been grabbed by their publicity stunt volleying a tennis ball between two boats speeding around Sydney Harbour)!