Thirty30 Tennis - Why?
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
Thirty30 (T30) Tennis has been created to give recreational and professional tennis players an alternative tennis scoring method and has not been created to replace the traditional scoring method.
In order to make their sports more exciting to both compete in and be a spectator at, numerous sports over recent years have experimented with their scoring systems. Squash, badminton, table tennis, cricket, darts, golf, netball, basketball, are to name but a few. All have had the same aim - to make their sport faster, more intense and more exciting. Cricket, being particularly successful with their introduction of the Twenty20 (T20) format, is currently being assessed to be selected as a sport to be included in the 2024 Olympic Games. This would have been unthinkable before the introduction of Twenty20.
Tennis is no different. It too has acknowledged that things have to change in order to maintain the interest in tennis at a high level and also to introduce a new younger generation to the sport. Standing still is not an option. Today’s generation are looking for something that is quicker and more exciting to both play and be a spectator at.
Tennis requires to be constantly aware that its place at the top table, as a sport that is currently part of the Olympic Games, may not always be in this fortunate position. Tennis has to continue to provide the constantly evolving entertainment value required by the Olympic movement and the public to ensure it continues to be chosen to be part of the Olympic Games. A faster and more exciting format may be required in the future. Time will tell.
2017 International Tennis Federation (ITF) Rules of Tennis – Appendix V – Alternative Procedures and Scoring Methods
Within Appendix V, there are 2 alternative formats listed:
1) Match Tie-Break (10 points)
A tie-break to10 points is played.
This is used in the ATP doubles competitions to decide a match when a best of 3 sets match is tied at 1 set all, thus shortening a match.
The Match Tie-Break has recently been marketed as ‘Tie Break Tens’ (TBT) where shortened matches of 1 tie-break to 10 points have been played.
UK TV channel “Dave” recently broadcast live a TBT event from the clay courts of Madrid featuring 8 women and 8 men competing in separate knockout events, all played out in 4 hours.
TBT matches are over very quickly and do not give players much time to settle into a match. Get off to a bad start and the match is lost.
2) FAST4 (Two-year trial 2016-2017)
This alternative format has been piloted by Tennis Australia over recent years. There are basically 4 changes to the traditional rules - sets are played to 4 games, a tie-break to 5 points is played at 3 games all, there are no advantage points played after deuce (i.e. sudden death deuce) and there are no service let’s played.
The FAST4 format is to be trialled at the 2017 Next Gen (under 21) ATP finals to be held in Milan in November.
The FAST4 format produces truncated traditional matches. With no advantage points played and winning a set with only 4 games, FAST4 produces shorter matches but are far detracted from traditional matches. With no ad points played there are even less "big points" played.
Pending ITF AGM approval, changes and additions are planned for the 2018 ITF Rules of Tennis Appendix V.
Thirty30 (T30) Scoring Method - Explained
The Thirty30 (T30) scoring method has been created as an additional alternative to TBT and FAST4.
The "Thirty30" brand name is easily recognisable as being identifiable with tennis and along with its very basic explanation of its rules "every game starts at 30-30 ("thirty-thirty") it becomes synonymous with the game of tennis.
Neither FAST4 nor TBT are instantly recognisable as being associated with tennis.
Thirty30 (T30) is the tennis equivalent of cricket's extremely successful Twenty20 (T20) and can be instantly recognisable as the faster more intense and more exciting format of tennis.
The Thirty30 scoring method, with its change of ends after the first 2 games played, followed by every four games played during a set, halves the number of change of ends during a match, thus again reducing the overall duration, i.e. changing ends after 2, 6 and 10 games ensures a maximum of 3 change of ends per set.
Thirty30 produces faster, more "bite-size" intense periods of play.
With no tie-break being played to decide a set if the games reach 6-all, the set-deciding "Golden Game" is extremely intense.
The Thirty30 format alternates who serves first at the start of each set, resulting in a fairer system. Using traditional scoring there is a 4 out of 7 chance (i.e. 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 & 7-5) that the player who served first in the previous set will also serve first in the next set, giving an unfair advantage. For a set that does not reach a tie-break, there is only a 2 out of 6 chance (i.e. 6-1 & 6-3) chance of a different player serving at the start of the next set.
Thirty30 retains the “no-tie-break / leading by 2 games” to win the final set unlike FAST4.
Matches - feel, look and sound like traditional tennis
Thirty30 Tennis produces tennis matches that feel, look and sound like traditional tennis matches, but are shorter in duration, are more intense (more "big points" - every second point played is a game point) and more exciting.
The transition from the traditional scoring method to the Thirty30 scoring method and back again is seamless. The rules are simple and extremely easy to remember.
Thirty30 retains the advantage points after deuce thus maintaining the opportunity of producing the multi-deuce games that are long recognised as being part of the game of tennis, sadly missed using the FAST4 method.
A Thirty30 match can be won for example by 7-6, 2-6, 8-6, i.e. the match score looks identical to that produced using the traditional scoring method, unlike FAST4 (e.g. 4-3, 2-4, 4-3) or TBT (e.g. 10-6).
Using the match tie-break to 10 points in a final set is an unsatisfactory method of quickly deciding a doubles match. Playing a Thirty30 set (lead by 2 games) to decide a match produces a fairer and more satisfactory outcome.
Thirty30 produces more unpredictable sets. It is easier to break serve – the receiver has to win only one out of the first two points played to take a game to deuce, instead of requiring to win three points to reach deuce using the traditional method.
Games can be won by a big server serving 2 consecutive un-returnable serves but with the added constant pressure of starting each game at 30-30, it takes a very consistent server to do this repeatedly.
Full focus and concentration is required 100% of the time. There is no opportunity to switch off.
Starting each game at 30-30 (“thirty-thirty”) creates a whole new mindset to how the points are played and the dynamics are changed. There are more "big points" and less meaningless points. The play is more intense and more excitement is created in a shorter space of time.
Tennis Scotland – Pilot of Thirty30 Tennis
Thirty30 Tennis contacted Tennis Scotland in early 2017 asking for their opinion of Thirty30 and they agreed to pilot Thirty30 later in the year in order to gain "customer feedback".
Tennis Scotland have recently sent a circular email to all their club contacts detailing the Thirty30 scoring method, asking clubs to try it out and give their feedback.
Regular updates of feedback received will be added to the News page on the website:
Mark Milne, Scotland, Creator of Thirty30 Tennis – 27 July 2017