Saturday, 6 December 2014


A great concept is the IPTL as it spices tennis up, long overdue. Tennis can get a little dreary especially at the Grand Slams due to the repetitive nature of the scoring system. The thing I have always disliked about tennis is the lack of reward for great shots. 
A player can come up with a 'tweener' screamer or a volley hit from around his back for a winner that surely deserves a bit more than a scratch on the score card. If the above mentioned happens in tennis it can go unnoticed unless it's perhaps on game point for the player who is clever enough to hit it.
I designed my own tournament in my home town of Albany Western Australia around ten years ago that had a unique system of scoring. I felt it was about time it received a 'tweak' for the better. The format was not unlike the Hopman Cup that is played in our capital City each year, teams of two, one doubles match and two singles. 
My idea however was to play the doubles match first, one set of short deuce games, first to seven. If it got to six all then the tie breaker was a race, first to 7 points only.  This was then followed by two mini singles matches.
These were first to 10 points, if it reached 9-9 the next point won the match. These matches were a short taste of singles, a ten minute match, just enough to wet the appetite of a singles enthusiast without the usual physical demands of singles.
If your team won the doubles with a score of seven games to five well quite simply your team received seven points, the opposition five. If you won your mini singles match 10-7 then you received those points as did the opposition and so on with the other singles match. A typical score card would read; 7-4 (doubles), 10-6 (first singles), 5-10 (second singles). That gave a score of 22 for Team A and 20 for Team B, a two point ball game where every point and every game counted.
From memory we added two bonus points for a match win, a small reward for getting over the line that may have made the difference at the end of the day. We had plenty of juniors playing in Division B and C and the points format kept them in the contest until the final match. Each division had eight teams, so each team played seven matches. There was no packing the bags after a first round loss.
The top two teams in each Division then played off in a final of the same format and it made for some remarkably close matches. One from memory came down to the final point of the second singles match, entertaining to say the least. That was simply a way of tweaking the local tennis scene's way of presenting the usual 'ho hum' type of tournament with a 'ho hum' way of scoring. I call it 'thinking outside the square'.
I believe that the IPTL is thinking outside the square at last in a sport that has needed a boost in the way in which it delivered it's format.
Watching Grand Slam matches where some games went to deuce seven times can quite often become the cause of channel switching. This is especially the case for those viewers keen on a result as opposed to the die hard tennis fan.
If I had a choice on watching 50 over cricket matches or the 20/20 I would watch the latter any day of the week.
And what of those advantage sets at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and in Paris where some matches reach 14-14 in the fifth ? Zzzzzzzzzzz.
I believe that the ITPL has the game right where it should be, a spectacle, one that is a shortened format where going to sleep or channel switching is not an option. It should have happened a long time ago, the game has long been in need of a different scoring structure.
So that's my take on the new tournament at the time where most players would be taking a break from the game so what does it tell you of their mind set ? At last, something fresh, a way to enjoy the game without the intensity and physical demands of the usual structure that at times can be likened to watching marathon runners do 40 kilometers. Zzzzzzzzzz again.......
So to my Tournament ? Haven't played it in years. The local Association is more interested in 'ho hum' tournaments and Committee Members apparently know best. I did in fact try to get it up and running again a year ago and I didn't think I was asking for too much. 
I put the idea to four hugely successful local Businesses for just $150 sponsorship each and a chance to be involved in something new but it was just way too hard for all of them. Life's like that......
A name ? I called it 'The Super Tie Breaker Tournament', I felt it had a good sound to it. A mate of mine actually referred to it as 'The Thompson Cup', that was flattering. It may never happen again but I am glad it was once played and I am also glad it was something designed to give the game a face lift.
If nothing else I would like to think that as a coach, player and tennis fan I do actually think outside the square, just as the brains trust behind the IPTL have done. Thank goodness for originality.........

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