Both the ATP and the WTA are winding up their sojourns in Asia. The WTA will return for it’s end of year events in Zuhai and Singapore while the ATP will end it’s year on indoor courts in Europe.
We’re several years into what is now called the Asian Swing, enough time to evaluate the growth of the sport especially in China. Japan has had high level women’s and men’s tournaments for awhile as evidenced by it’s “Prince of Tennis” anime cartoon. It’s the addition of China, and that country’s stated goal of adding a fifth Slam to the tennis calendar. As we know the Australian Open has rebranded itself the Asian Pacific Slam and it’s my opinion that the Australian Open isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Will Beijing, Shanghai or maybe Wuhan be upgraded? That remains to be seen. Of the three only Beijing brings both tours to one place. It’s also questionable whether a Slam so soon after the US Open is feasible. Travel stress would affect the players and the time differences will affect the number of viewers in countries that are outside of the Asia Pacific rim.
The other problem that stares you in the face is the lack of butts in the seats. The venues themselves are beautiful. Shanghai’s lotus style main court is architecturally beautiful and is my personal favorite but all of the tennis venues in China have their own “specialness”. The only thing missing is fans. These are huge stadiums and the visuals are horrible when the camera pans the venue and the fans are maybe two to three rows deep around the edge of the court, if that. It’s also obvious that the problem isn’t unique to one tour. Both tours have had their best playing to empty stadiums.
When thinking about tennis lackluster performance in China so far I remind myself about how the Chinese dealt with ice skating. Their first athletes in the sport were pretty bad but now they’re at the pinnacle of the sport. Right now it appears that the women are progressing ahead of the men but there doesn’t seem to be any one ready to make the break through yet. Time will tell. Until that happens I think things will stay as they are with crowds in Japan and to a lesser extent in South Korea but low attendance in China.
This and That
Not one, but two British newspapers weighed in on the shameful displays put on by World Team Tennis in regards to Maria Sharapova . If you haven’t read either article here are the links.
The first is by US based sports writer Andrew Jerell Jones.
The second is by a British bases sports writer Oliver Brown.
Not one US sports outlet found it in his or her best interests to call the event what it really was – a blot on the sport of tennis and a slap in the face to clean athletes everywhere.
Tennis Channel acted as if the suspended doper was coming back from an injury related sabbatical and not still serving a doping suspension.
Despite the disgraceful behavior by the USTA, the WTA and Head there is an individual who if it wasn’t for her status as the mother of women’s tennis would’ve been raked mercilessly over the coals by fans. I have no idea why she, or anyone involved thought this was the best thing to do for the sport they love. I just hope they all wnet home and scrubbed the dirt off when the event was over.
It’s one thing when a fan site high handedly bans all discussion of the subject. It’s another when the pro’s, who know better, try to help a doper sweep her offenses away.
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