Every couple of years, a new spin on an old idea resurfaces in tennis. Davis and Federation Cups provide such excitement, promoters all over the world are looking for ways to broaden this in both frequency and scope. Out of this comes the birth of the International Premier Tennis League. With top players and legends secured from both tours, the star power is present. With several changes put forth, it promises to be something beyond the normal tennis presented to the masses. How did the initial weekend go and will with be wagerable or just pros cashing checks?
The entire presentation took less than six hours. This gets the viewing audience on site their money’s worth by giving them a complete product. They do this by giving matches that are only one set in length. If tied 5-5 then they got to a five minute shoot out with the shot clock in play. A danger is that this might equate to arcade tennis with results being more variable than the marathon matches found in the Grand Slams.
Ratings Equality But Gender Bias
Women can and do suffer under their format. With ladies singles, men’s singles, mixed doubles, doubles, and legend single, some franchises opt to use a lone lady. Manila had Maria Sharapova and no one else. With the WTA more than holding their own in the ratings war against the Men’s side, it is surprising that they do not highlight women more. With the total prize pools in Grand Slams getting equality, this International Premier Tennis League still has the glass ceiling in place.
Tick Tock of the Shot Clock
Most of the changes made to make this league “exciting” are gimmicky with the exception of the shot clock. With the exception of the blistering heat of a place like Australia, tennis players on both tours are afforded to much luxury. The place where it is most seen is the pace of play between points. Some players make it a production on each and every serve. This slows the play to a crawl and has resulted in longer matches regardless of quality. With tennis anxious to get more TV coverage outside of the majors, a boring product is conducive to people changing stations. The twenty second rule seen here works and should be considered for immediate usage on both tours.
Nationalism is at the heart of pro tennis and is not considered enough. The four Grand Slams comprise unique countries. Davis and Fed cup feature nations pitted against one another. Even in the seeding the players country is listed even though it has no bearing on the match. By assembling mercenaries under pro teams, a key aspect of tennis is missing. The product has to be even better but with shorter matches and higher fluctuation in potential wagering, International Premier Tennis League will have a hard time gaining traction in the off time during the tours.