The Good, Bad & Ugly of Global Tennis Development
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Reference Adam Blicher’s (Tennis Coach) Podcast - #63: Dave Miley - The Good, Bad & Ugly of Global Tennis Development - with Dave Miley (24 years with the ITF, 18 years as ITF Executive Director of Development). Dave Miley:
If the (ranking) points were different and the prize money was different players would play-off for 3rd and 4th and what I see at a big tournament is that the last couple of days are a bit dead and you know when you buy a ticket for the finals or the semi-finals, you really want to see your player but if the players lose on the Tuesday or Wednesday you don’t get to see them.
It’s just one example.
I think that would create much more interest in the tournament and it would be a bit like the golf in terms of the making the cut. If you make the quarters, you stay the whole week and you’re playing every day and the prize money is different….
…be all about adapting the sport to the new lifestyles and the customers are the players and whether you are at professional level, junior level or at the recreational club level, you need to adapt competition and play to the needs and lifestyles of the customers.
In the “participation” area, one of the things that I really wanted to focus on, I was planning to do it in 2016 or 2017 was to do a seminar related to the “Play & Stay” Campaign on “Play & Competition”.
Let me explain what I mean.
I think that tennis generally in the last 20 years at the club level has been driven too much by coaching.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a coach, you are a coach and I think we are important but tennis doesn’t need to be driven by coaching.
Tennis needs to be driven by “Play and Competition”.
Now what do I mean by “Play & Competition”, what’s the difference?
For me “Competition” is where you play and the score is recorded. It’s formal competition. People compete and the score gets written down.
For me, “Play” is more user friendly. "Play", even the word “Play” is like “Fun”. So “Play” is where you "play", you keep score but it’s not written down, it’s not recorded – it’s less threatening.
So, for me, it’s very important that at the club level, at the micro level, the clubs are driven by “Play & Competition”.
So that means organising user-friendly “Play”, using different scoring formats, using different balls, etc., even timed scoring, etc. and because once tennis is driven by “Play”, the people who are playing will want to get coaching so they play better, so then coaches get more business, and also the players are going to buy things to help them play better.
You see in golf, people play competitions in golf.
They buy a putter for a $1,000 because they want to putt better. They get lessons because they want to play better in the competition.
What’s happened too much at the (tennis) club level in my opinion is you see kids who when you ask them ‘Do you play tennis?’, they say ‘Oh yes, I do coaching on a Tuesday’ or ‘I do coaching on a Thursday’ but they never play.
So, for me, the plan was to have a seminar just dealing with “Play & Competition” highlighting loads of different formats and scorings that are used effectively in a user-friendly way world-wide and to encourage more (Tennis) Federations to implement more user-friendly “Play & Competition”.
It comes back to what I said earlier in the interview which is ‘Tennis needs to adapt the product, the product of tennis, to the needs and lifestyles of the customers’.
The customer is never wrong. Remember that in business. The customer is never wrong. If the customer is not buying your product, you need to adapt the product, not try to change the customer.
The idea would have been to try and have a little bit more focus on this whole area of “Play” and how you can use user-friendly play at the micro level, at the club level, world-wide and I that can have a big impact on the game because, in my opinion again, a successful sport is a sport where people play the game and because they play the game they want to watch good tennis being played, so that means the stadiums are full and because they play they want to buy things that help them play better, and that’s coaching and equipment.
And that’s a healthy sport. It’s not a healthy sport if that’s not happening.
If you look at some of the stadiums, if you look at the WTA and some of the ATP, the stands aren’t full and when they are full, there’s too many people who are over 50.
We need more younger people watching tennis, so I’ve got some concerns for the future of the game and I think that a lot of it goes back to micro level and getting more people playing and getting those people then watching and buying tennis.
Listen to this extract:
This is a very interesting interview with a lot of thought provoking questions for further conversation.
The comments from above, "all about adapting the sport to the new lifestyles", "you need to adapt competition and play to the needs and lifestyles of the customers", "using different scoring methods” and "loads of different formats and scorings“ are all very interesting - the Thirty30 scoring method provides this and can play a part in increasing the participation of “Play” at the club level.
For the entire podcast: