Tennis Biz: Great change at Wimbledon
GOODBYE clay, hello grass.
This year's French Open is a recent memory as Wimbledon prepares for the upcoming The Championships.
Wimbledon is again about to contribute to the history of arguably the world's most prestigious and most popular yearly tennis event.
It is not so long ago that many of the world's best players bypassed Wimbledon.
These players, the "slow clay court specialists'', found it almost impossible to be competitive on Wimbledon's fast grass courts.
Over time, players have adapted their technique to suit the powerful racquets of today.
Tennis has become more of a slug fest centred around baseline play than the classic serve and volley game of past times.
Even the staid administration of Wimbledon realised they needed to have as many of the world's top players in the tournament as possible, so something would have to change.
Where grass courts were once found throughout the world, they are now considered too expensive to maintain given they can't be played on all year round (or at night time because the evening dew make them slippery).
Until 1988, the Australian Open was played on grass.
That's the dilemma.
It would be unthinkable for Wimbledon to convert their surface to anything except grass.
The decision was made and not advertised then or now, to progressively over a period of years to slow the ball speed/pace on the grass.
The sub-base court material and the type of grass have been changed.
Over recent years the top players who once would have bypassed Wimbledon now are content to include the tournament on their yearly schedule.
Long-time tennis enthusiasts would remember the figure eight wear pattern on the fast grass courts which reflected the players' serve and volley movement.
One part of the figure eight at the baseline, the other part around the 'tee' of the service line.
Today, the wear is concentrated by far at the baseline, from side to side, indicating the change in style of play and the associated slower courts. Slowing the courts was a great move from the power brokers behind the Wimbledon Championships to retain the prestige of the tournament by assuring that the majority of top players would play the event.
Every player wants to win Wimbledon during their careers.
The slower courts have made the difference in improving the playing quality.
The Championships start on June 29 and run for two weeks.
THE forecast threatened a 40% chance of showers for last Saturday.
Showers arrived at all centres.
Play was called off for the day at Springfield Lakes and Tivoli, while players were off the courts for a short time before returning to play at the remaining centres.
At the Chermside Rd centre, an S2 match between what could be described as "them" and "us'' came down to a last set decider.
The "them'' team of FD Eagles (Fred Daniel and Steve Sellars) played the "us'' combination of TG Andersons (Amber Bryant and Dylan Strong).
Four determined players battled it out with TG Andersons leading by two games going into the last and deciding set.
There are no more determined players than those older players faced with the prospect of losing the match (and their reputations) to a couple of teenagers.
While the final score in the last set did not reflect the quality of the set, the score did reflect the determination - 6/1 to the oldies winning the match by two games.
The match was played in great spirit and it was pleasing to see the older players praising the efforts of the younger players and giving them advice on their game.
TODAY'S society, rightly or wrongly, believes they are time poor.
To accommodate this need for high intensity over short time frames, tennis has come up with a new playing format.
The format is called FAST FOUR and was widely promoted by Tennis Australia during this year's Australian Open.
FAST FOUR seems to have received lukewarm acceptance.
Then again, how long did it take for the tie-break system to become an every day part of tennis?
Fast Rules to learn
FAST FOUR rules are relatively straight forward. As the name implies, there are four main rules. They are:
- Play Lets. If the serve clips the tape and lands in the service box, there's no let, it's game on. What's more, if you're playing doubles either the receiver or their partner can take the return.
- No ad scoring. As soon as a game gets to deuce it's a Power Point. The receiver chooses which side will take the serve. This applies to doubles too with the receiving pair deciding who returns the point.
- Tie-breaker at three games all. At three games all a short tie-break is played, first to five points. A Power Point determines the winner at four points all.
- First to four games wins. It doesn't matter how you get there, just make sure you get to four before the competition does. There's no advantage games.The new format is worth a try and may add another element to your tennis experiences.