World Team Tennis made its debut in New York last weekend, where 5,000 fans watched their "local" team plunge to an initial defeat.
World Team Tennis made its debut in New York last weekend, where 5,000 fans watched their "local" team plunge to an initial defeat. The New York Sets were beaten 29-25 by the Hawiian Leis.
The fans were also witnessing a controversial break with tennis tradition. There's a complete new system of scoring -- with the first player to reach 4 points winning the game, and matches being decided not by sets, but by the cumulative scoring of games. Contests are divided into two halves, like football games, in an attempt to build up suspense. In each half, there has to be one set each of men's singles, women's singles and mixed doubles.
The organisers are hoping that cities will come to identify with their local team, thus building up the fan-following. In the case of New York, it means identifying with Spanish player-coach Manuel Santana and a team of mixed nationalities.
Many of the players are finding it difficult to take the new concept seriously. "Not real tennis. Just a big joke", was the reported verdict of Australia's Evonne Goolagong. But team tennis is controversial because it will damage the European tournament scene by holding large numbers of the top layers under contract in the United States until September.