Six Tips to Improve Tennis

And Get More People to Watch

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on June 27th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

Tennis is a great sport. A warrior sport. I think it could and should be more popular. Theses are my tips to improve the game and make it more marketable.

6 — Allow coaching: Unlike team sports, there are no timeouts and players are on their own. But even boxers get to talk to their corner-men between rounds. Every change over might be too much, but how about allow coaching between sets? It could make for better matches and improved play. It gives announcers more to talk about and second-guess and it adds personalities to the game and post match press conferences.

5 — Expand replay: This is a joke. The speed of the technology is such that calls can be instantly corrected but the powers that be like to get the crowd buzzing in anticipation so they drag out the time it takes to show the replay. It is grossly unfair to the players to make them focus on the calls and play at the same time when the technology exists to where it doesn’t have to slow down the game and we can get it right. As it stands a player can run out of challenges late in a set or be hesitant to use one early in a set. Consequently, bad calls can still needlessly affect an outcome frustrating players and fans.

4 — Play through let cords on serves or make it a fault: As it stands now, if a serve hits the net and lands in, it is a let cord and they replay the serve. I heard John McEnroe years ago suggest playing through it and I agree. It would create some exciting points. True it is not skill demonstrated by the server but it is part of the game.

They don’t re-kick field goals that hit the crossbar and go through or bounce out. The other option I like better than replaying the serve is to call it a fault and go on to the second serve. The server’s job is to get the ball over the net and within the service line, if you’re not going to play it, than it should be a fault.

3 — Eliminate grunting or let the crowd make all the noise it wants: For years we have been told that tennis is a gentleman’s game. I’ve also heard tennis players say you need to hear the sound of the ball off the racket. Well the grunting, bellowing, sodomizing, screeching and all the other noises coming out of player’s mouths these days disputes that theory.

I am just one fan but there are matches and players I can’t watch because of the exaggerated and needless harmonic dissonance spewing from their mouths after every shot. Do they think it is cool or intimidating? Fine, let them moan like a dying Zebu on their serve. Anything more than an extended natural breath during a point is a violation.

First time it is a warning. Second time it costs them a point. Each time thereafter a game.

2 — Reschedule the U.S. Open Finals: One of the issues tennis has with gaining traction is when it competes against more popular sports and thus minimizing the coverage and attention it gets the next day. The U.S. Open finals is played on a Sunday, the opening weekend of the NFL season, and that is brutal. Schedule the tournament so that the final is either played on Labor Day on a Monday afternoon, (to avoid going head to head with Monday Night Football) or in prime time on Tuesday night.

This way you have a better shot of getting more coverage the next day in the 24/7 sports news cycle and going viral on twitter. You can have a great final on Sunday but the next day, sports radio, ESPN, twitter, they don’t care about it, you’re not water cooler conversation. Maybe, just maybe if the final is five sets and is the top five matches of all-time, you’ll get a little blurb at the end of PTI or a mention in fourth down on First and ten. Otherwise they’d rather talk about what Terrell Owens said about his latest new quarterback or Chad Johnson’s new name.

Tennis, I think you deserve better, but right now you’re like a great indie film about talking robots coming out the same weekend as the next Transformers movie. You have to market better and around the giants.

Oh and would it kill Wimbledon to start its tournament on a Sunday instead of Monday and play on the middle Sunday, you know when people are around to watch? Let the middle Monday be the down day to give the burdened villagers a break from all of the Wimbledon traffic.

1 – Pay Tiger Woods to play Tennis: Okay, not Tiger, but the point is do more to market your stars. You have two of the all time greats in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. You have great challengers to the throne with Novac Djokovic and Andy Murray. A young rising star in Juan Martin Del Potro returning to form and a fiery veteran fighting for one more slam in Andy Roddick.

The bee swarm over U.S. Golf Open winner Rory Mcilroy proves the star doesn’t have to be an American to get attention.

Now that tennis has made a deal with the evil empire of sports coverage, ESPN, (I say that lovingly, please hire me!) its Q rating should go up. Tennis also has a great ex champion and ambassador in John McEnroe who will seemingly do anything to help the sport, get him out there even more. Get him on Sportscenter, have him debate Skip Bayless on First and Ten. Do the same with Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. Use your assets and they will make a difference.

Sprinkle fresh, innovative changes into the game, get your personalities out there and you will get more attention, and attention will help spread this great game.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

It’s the Big THREE Not Four


With the start of a tennis grand slam, (in this case, Wimbledon), comes the predictions and articles about the supposed big four of men’s tennis.  The “big four” includes all-time gland slam winner, (17), Roger Federer.  Twelve time slam winner, Rafael Nadal.  Six time slam winner, and the man who has finished the last two seasons ranked number one, Novak Djokavic.  And one time slam champion, Andy Murray.  Humm.  What is wrong with this picture?

It would seem to me that one member of this quartet’s accomplishments is significantly less than the others.

In baseball, we do not compare a relief pitcher with one great season of saves to Mariano Rivera.  Joe Flacco is still not being put in the class of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning because he quarterbacked his team to a Superbowl win.

Murray finally started maximizing his potential with his U.S. Open and Olympic gold last year.  That hardly puts him in the class of the other three.  (Mind you the big four moniker began prior to those wins for Murray, which was even more ridiculous.)

Federer for sure, and Nadal arguably, are on the Mt. Rushmore of tennis.  Djokavic has potential to get there and has accomplished enough to currently be mentioned as part of a big three.

Murray is a fabulous player who you can even call great.   But he has not has a stretch of dominance, either by tournament wins or number one ranking, that remotely compares to the big three.  While he is clearly the best of the rest, (a group that includes David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) it is still grossly pre-mature to include Murray in the tier of the big three.

Should Murray capture a couple of slams this year and finish number one than we can have a conversation about it.  Until then it is Roger, Rafa, Novac and everybody else.