Yes, you may have come to this article thinking, Naysayers, can't stand them. Even so, I'm going to hate-click on this post. Or something akin to this: Wow, this will irk me. I truly dislike the traditionalist/modernist/technologist take on tennis.
In truth, one can be both traditional and technologically inclined. It depends on the topic.
All those towels that ball persons have to handle
Let's start with one that presumably all of us can get behind. Ball handlers—be they children or adults—should play no role in players retrieving their sweaty, germ-riddled, plainly nasty towels. It's degrading. And it's not like they don't know what's afoot—they know what's happening, and they dish about it.
Action to take: Force the pros to fetch their own. Gasp. Solved.
We are going to look back at ballkids handling the effluvia-soaked towels of millionaire pro athletes, much as we cringingly recall child labor in the textile mills, factories and mines during the Industrial Revolution .... https://t.co/WzZcWp9LLH— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 30, 2018
And another frequently citable voice of reason:
Players toweling off between points, namely those that were aces or double faults
Closely related to item 1 here. Yes, it's often searingly hot out there—namely at largely outdoor events. And while retractable roofs have negated precipitation in a few marquee venues, that doesn't mean an indoor match doesn't become a pressure-cooker environment. With many a scorcher in the likes of Melbourne and New York, where temperatures reach 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit on court, a lot of other events lend ample leeway for players to gesture or call for a towel when they don't truly need it. And considering that it takes thousands of gallons of water to produce a cotton T-shirt, the environmental risk is considerable and the current system is by no means sustainable.
Reasons to prohibit abuse of this: Enviro-waste; slowed-down matches. Also, episodes like this one will be no more:
Let's just issue a moratorium on ballpersons as concierge service overall. No more supplying players with liquids, removing their new-racquet plastic coverings, etc.
Alexander Zverev on towels: "I have never, I think, used a towel in a match, so for me, it doesn't make a difference. There are some players, some American players, that go for the towel literally after every single point, and that's a bit ridiculous, in my perspective."— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) October 12, 2018
This isn't table service, and it's not as if it's hunter-gatherer proposition for the pros. Everything is readily available behind the players' respective chairs or the umpire's stand. They may grab what they want, when they want it.
Reason to prohibit this practice forevermore: We can avoid not-good looks like this:
Oh no Sabalenka.. pic.twitter.com/nuAVNapJWt— LorenaPopa ????️♀️???? (@popalorena) October 4, 2018
That hideous shot clock
For casual tennis fans, the sport already harbors enough variables that make it a feat to understand everything involved by the midpoint of a major event, or the title round of a smaller, week-long tournament. What's more, blatant disregard for it on the part of many pros (read: stars), coupled with respective umpires' choices as to whether to act in response, makes for inconsistent application of a rule that should never have existed.
"I like the clock in theory," Jon Wertheim of Tennis Channel and Sports Illustrated wrote after this year's US Open. "But it still comes with a subjective component—when to start it? What is sufficient crowd noise to pause the clock? And it needs to be posted behind the court so the television sees it."
Action to take: Knock it out like tennis parent Mike Tyson.
Imagine if tennis commentators didn’t constantly talk about the shot clock for no reason.— Matthew Willis (@MattRacquet) November 1, 2019
What a world that would be.
Pre-match hallway interviews
Nary a nugget of any real value comes out of these exchanges, most recently conducted by Tom Rinaldi and Rennae Stubbs at the US Open. The players toss out kernels of faux-truth and feign that they'll divulge any on- or off-court history with their opponent. And everyone's non-verbal communication indicates they have far better places to be. Namely on the court.
Please stop the pre-match tunnel interviews. They're farcical. #usopen— Douglas Robson (@dougrobson) September 1, 2013
And, sure, OK, fine—here's one case for keeping them.
Do we gain anything from it 90 percent of the time? A: No. We have learned in recent times that professional spouses Darren Cahill and Simona Halep often seethe at each other mid-match, and that Venus Williams really just needs coffee, like, now.
Action to take: Cease using it at all WTA tour-level events, and absolutely don't consider adding it to men's tournaments. At the very least, stop mic'ing up the coach so there's some privacy.
For anyone that missed it. Here is Darren Cahill calling Simona Halep a disgrace. (Via Paul Grogan) pic.twitter.com/l7RwNBFM3x— Paps (@DatGoneIt77) November 1, 2019
That beloved, endearing, antiquated scoring system
File it among those tennis-centric things that people can't understand even after viewing September's entire 4-hour, 50-minute, US Open men's singles final between Rafael Nadal and Danii Medvedev.
Action to take: In all things, simplify. Make it 1, 2, 3, Game. Deuce and Ad-in/Ad-out can stay. As with the NextGen Finals in 2018, change up sets to the so-called "Fast4" scoring—first player to four games wins the set. Best-of-five matches at majors also remain then. Because who knows? You just might prolong the playing careers of future legends (looking at you, Rafa) by three to five years in not forcing them to pound the ground for one-fourth of any given day at a major. And when that's the case, no one will be mourning for the days of first-to-six sets.
Who the hell came up with the scoring system in tennis?— Brett Barney (@thebrettbarney) November 2, 2019
With this being professional tennis, you know likely none of the above will ever come to be. For one, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal may be rejoining a politically divided player council on the ATP Tour, but they have the cliched "bigger fish to fry" in the short term. And so, we wait.