Tennis Industry magazine

 

Tennis’ ‘Hidden Jewel’

An author and longtime tennis journalist says that on the pro and recreational sides, doubles is becoming more important.

By Marcia Frost

An author and longtime tennis journalist says that on the pro and recreational sides, doubles is becoming more important.

In the past, the game of doubles hasn’t received the respect it deserves. But now, its importance is becoming more recognized.

It was the win by Bob and Mike Bryan that gave the U.S. its first Davis Cup trophy in 12 years. Arlen Kantarian, the former CEO of Professional Tennis for the USTA, felt it was a significant statement. “You have the entire stadium focused on doubles to see how exciting that game is,” he said. “We want it to translate to the recreational level, where 75 percent of the people who play tennis are playing doubles. We’ve got that hidden jewel — doubles.”

Doubles is less stressful to the body than singles and can be played at any age. Even professional players are getting better at it as they get older. The Bryan brothers have continued dominating the world after their 30th birthday; Martina Navratilova won a Grand Slam event just before her 50th; John McEnroe, who is just a few years younger, keeps it going at pro and charity events; and Stan Smith has continued to play doubles competitively after his 60th year. On the recreational side, there are tournaments for players into their 90s.

The ATP and WTA started initiatives to make people more aware of the excitement of doubles. In 2009, the campaign from the men’s circuit is called “Feel It,” and for the women, “Love It.” The idea is to get people to become spectators and players of an event they can continue throughout their lives. Bob Bryan thinks it is working. “We’ve felt a renewed interest in doubles the past few years,” he said recently. “We love the dynamics of the team thing.”

The interest in doubles in the U.S. has been propelled by this country’s domination. While the U.S. has struggled in singles (only one man — Andy Roddick at No. 6 — and two women — Serena Williams at No. 2 and sister Venus at No. 6 — finished in the top 10 in 2008), the country has been leading the world in doubles:

At the start of 2009, the U.S. controlled the No. 1 position in the world for both men’s and women’s doubles with the Bryans and Williams. For 2008, in addition to the No. 2 rankings by the twins, the team of Scott Lipsky and David Martin, who remain the leaders on the USTA Pro Circuit with the most doubles titles won, were ranked No. 14 in the world and nine American women are in the top 25. Also last year, the Williams sisters won Olympic gold in Beijing, while the Bryans took bronze.

The combination of personality and court surface have made Americans winners in doubles. American players have been known to show a lack of patience on the court, and while that doesn’t help in singles on a clay court, it’s an asset in doubles. In general, we play much more hard-court tennis in the U.S. and it’s great practice for the serve-and-volley game of doubles. Also, we have a collegiate system where doubles is played at every dual match.

The USTA also is heading in the right direction of promoting the game with the next generation in Jr. Team Tennis (for which the Bryans are spokespersons) and by changing to a combined ranking to the national juniors, giving players a percentage of their points for doubles play, which has increased the number of juniors playing doubles.

With league tennis for adults becoming more popular, doubles continues to get a boost among recreational players. And for facilities, doubles is a winner: You can get twice as many players on court at one time, and players themselves enjoy the teamwork and socialization, which aids in bringing more people into the game.

Whether it’s winning a Grand Slam event or playing in a league with your friends, doubles is the game for your entire lifetime — to watch and play.

In the past, the game of doubles hasn’t received the respect it deserves. But now, its importance is becoming more recognized.

Marcia Frost is the author of “American Doubles: The Trials … the Triumphs … the Domination,” published by Mansion Grove House and available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and AmericanDoublesBook.net. She frequently writes for USTA Magazine, SMASH, Tennis Life, and Tennis Championships Magazine and has previously contributed to Racquet Sports Industry.

See all articles by

About the Author

Marcia Frost  is the editor of CollegeAndJuniorTennis.com, published by the non-profit Port Washington Tennis Academy. In her role as a college tennis advocate, she is the editor/manager of CollegeTennisConnect.com, owned by PWTA and Sports Marketplace, where she writes the Monthly Guide To College Planning. She is also a member of the USTA Eastern Section College Tennis Committee.

 

Babolat Play

TI magazine search

TI magazine categories


TI magazine archives


 
 

Movable Type Development by PRO IT Service