Thirty30 Tennis Blog: A compelling case for the idea that Tennis needs to adapt to thrive?
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have recognised that going forward there is a requirement for shorter formats as they have adopted the Fast4 rules into Appendix V of their Rules, i.e. sets to 4 games, tie-break at 3-3 and no ads played.
Many sports are looking at implementing shorter formats. The world is changing and sports have to innovate and adapt to remain successful and to stay relevant.
Chris Kermode, former CEO ATP (November 2019):
"But I think there is an opportunity for the sport to have different formats, like cricket [Twenty20] and other sports do it.
The sport has got to look ahead for the next 10 years.
My children in their 20s, just how they consume any entertainment is completely different to how I did and how we all did.
The game has to adapt."
The average age of tennis fans is over 50 and is reported to be increasing year on year.
Many people in tennis realise this, including the most recent and current ATP CEOs.
This is not ideal and something has to be done. Standing still is not an option.
It is worth trying various types of shorter formats to experiment with them to try and engage with a new generation of players and fans.
Also worth considering is that many sports have different 'disciplines'.
For example, the sport of athletics and in particular the ‘track events’, have “long”, “middle” and “short (sprints)” distance (or duration) events.
Marathon and 10,000m and 5,000m events are “long” distance races
(Duration = 2 hours to 30 to 15 minutes)
1,500m and 800m events are “middle” distance races
(Duration = 4 to 2 minutes)
200m and 100m events are “short” distance races (“sprints”)
(Duration = 20 to 10 seconds)
All three of these 'disciplines' have over the years uniquely created multiple champions and global superstars which is great for the sport of athletics.
e.g. to name but a few:
Mo Farrah (10,000m & 5,000m)
Haile Gebrselassie (marathon & 10,000m)
Paula Radcliffe (marathon)
Tirunesh Dibaba (10,000m & 5,000m)
Kelly Holmes (1,500m & 800m)
Sebastian Coe (1,500m)
David Rodisha (800m)
Usain Bolt (200m & 100m)
Carl Lewis (200m & 100m)
Competitors and fans all have their own favourite 'disciplines' with the shorter "sprints" events being a particular favourite with Usain Bolt being the most recent “sprints” global superstar.
There are other sports that also reflect this.
e.g. cricket has:
Test Cricket are "long" distance matches
(Duration = 5 days)
One Day Internationals (ODIs) are "middle" distance matches
(Duration = 1 day)
Twenty20 (T20) and T10 are "short" distance matches ("sprints")
(Duration = 3 and 1.5 hours)
Tennis can also replicate this with:
Grand Slams 'best-of-5' sets matches using traditional scoring
are "long" distance events
(Duration = 2 to 5 hours)
WTA & ATP & ITF 'best-of-3' sets matches using traditional scoring
are "middle" distance events
(Duration = 1 to 3 hours)
Thirty30 (T30) tennis matches
are "short" distance events ("sprints")
'best-of-5' sets matches
(Duration = 60 to 90 minutes)
'best-of-3' sets matches
(Duration = 40 to 60 minutes)
The addition of a 'sprints discipline’ in tennis provides an opportunity for a top player who is not as successful in longer matches to become a 'sprints' events champion and possible global superstar.
This could be a younger player who has not yet developed the physical and mental attributes required to be successful in the longer duration matches.
Tennis requires more global superstars, especially younger players that can attract new generations of fans and players.
Three shorter duration "sprint" scoring formats that are currently being used are:
(1) Fast4 (i.e. sets to 4 games with no ads played) has been trialled at the ATP Next Gen events in Milan over the last 3 years.
Sets to 4 games with a tie-break at 3-3 and no ads is just a traditional set cut short and is not tennis as we know it.
(2) Tie-Break Tens Events, where matches are a single Match Tie Break to 10 points, have been played in six major cities all over the world in recent years.
A Match Tie Break to 10 points is very short and is basically a 10-minute shoot-out.
(3) Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) matches are ‘timed tennis matches’ where four 10-minute quarters are played using 'tie-break-like' scoring.
Timed tennis matches where no ‘games’ and ‘sets’ are played differ significantly from traditional scoring and the format is also difficult to implement at amateur or club level.
An alternative ‘Sprint’ Format?
Thirty30 (T30) tennis is a new alternative faster-paced shorter scoring format where EVERY point REALLY counts and still FEELS, LOOKS and SOUNDS like traditional tennis.
Sets are still played to 6 games (lead by 2) with a tie-break at 6 games all and the deuce / ad points are played out in full.
The game score ticks over much more quickly and is a 'step-change' from traditional scoring.
T30 match results look identical to traditional matches!
"Thirty30" Tennis - Every game starts from 30-30 (announced “thirty-thirty”) - the clue is in the name!
"Thirty30" - Does exactly what it says on the tin !
Thirty30 tennis is very simple and the transition from traditional scoring is seamless.
Twenty20 (T20) has revolutionised cricket. Thirty30 (T30) can revolutionise tennis!
A compelling case for the idea that tennis needs to adapt to thrive?
Thirty30 Tennis – Have You Tried It Yet?
Mark J Milne, Arbroath, Scotland - Creator of Thirty30 Tennis