Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I love tennis. But, like many other tennis fans, I only watch the Grand Slams, save for cherished memories of seeing Monica Seles in her prime as a young lovelorn lad at the Virginia Slims at MSG. Marketing the non-slams is a thankless job.
This week sees start of the L.A. Tennis Open, an event in its 83rd year that can boast past champions such as Pancho Gonzales, "Hot" Rod Laver, Stan "You can do anything but lay off my ill white kicks" Smith, Jimmy "Chris Evert? Yeah, I hit that" Connors, John "Tatum used to be a prime P.O.A. back in the dizay, eh?" McEnroe, Arthur "Tite 'fro, tighter shorts" Ashe, Michael "Fuck You Ivan" Chang, "Dead Yo Shit" Edberg, Andre "Advantage:" Agassi, Boris "Gurl, I'll freak you in the restaurant's broom closet" Becker, Jim "The Great Ginger Hope" Courier, and Pete "Yawn" Sampras.
This year the tourney doesn't feature one player from the Top 10. Can't be e-z trying to sell L.A. on seeing the Bryan "aren't they just zany??" Bros., Mardy "Go" Fish, Sam "Nobody Asked" Querrey, and Tommy "We Must Protect Zis" Haas. At least they got a little Legends tourney going with Sampras, Chang, Dedberg, Courier and Marat "Nobody pays to see me hit a backhand or move around the court" Safin.
Speaking of Safin and tuff sells, his sister headlines the upcoming L.A. Women's Tennis Championships. Now rankings mean something in men's tennis, but in the women's game today, the rankings mean absolutely nothing. The Williams sisters don't play the minor tourneys so their rankings suffer, but then they show up at the Slams and rip shit up. Now Dinara Safina may be the world's #1, on paper, and it's fine to play up her appearance at the tourney. But it takes some set of balls, and complete ignorance, to have your ad read "Better than Serena, Better than Venus, Better than anyone in the world!!!!" when Safina lost in the French Open final, 6-4, 6-2, and got absolutely annihilated by Venus in the Wimbledon Semi-final 6-1, 6-0. So how can their ad read that Safina is better than Venus? The worst part is, this kind of tournament only appeals to hardcore tennis fans, the kind of fans who know very well that Venus absolutely beat down Safina, why insult your loyal fan base's intelligence with an ad like this?
Back when the U.S.T.A. was threatening to pull the U.S. Open out of N.Y.C. unless a new stadium to replace Louis Armstrong was built, part of the argument was that rotating the host city for the Open would bolster grass-roots tennis in our country. I can partly see the point. Then again, on the flip side,if being able to see the stars in person inspires kids to pick up a racket, shouldn't the NYC area have produced more stars than just McEnroe? In any event, David Dinkins stepped to keep the action in Queens, leaving tennis with the situation it has today where cities like L.A. get the impossible-to-market scraps.