A recent Newsday article (click here) about the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup in Madison Square Garden had some intriguing news about the growing interest in exhibition tennis as a marketing tool for our sport. Jerry Solomon – organizer of the BJK Cup and last year’s Sampras vs. Federer exo in NYC – has plans for an annual tennis spectacular that would bring “all the Grand Slam winners, men and women, to the Garden in (the March) time slot every year and have a two-day celebration in New York of the sport. The tennis industry seems to be interested in that.”
Peter Bodo, also interviewed for the article, was also enthusiastic on the subject of exhibitions. He thinks the regular tennis season should end after the U.S. Open and be followed by three months of touring exo tennis:
“I’ve always argued that exhibitions are great for the sport, that you ought to close the season down after the U.S. Open and send guys like [Andy] Roddick and Federer on a 20-day tour around the country. Have your stars play the majors and a couple of other tournaments and then let them do what they want — evangelize for tennis. That’s how the game was built years ago.”
What say you? Are you pro or con tennis exhibitions?
Tennis exhibitions are: Total Voters: 453
Tennis exhibitions are:
Total Voters: 453
Personally, I HATE ’em. For me, tennis matches are all about the competition, the idea that something real is on the line and that both players are doing everything possible to win. In exhibition-land, it’s all “hit and giggle” in the end, even if the players are doing their best to fake it. But in Bodo’s defense, I was inspired to start blogging because of an exhibition match: one of my very first posts came after watching a Sampras vs. Courier exo at the Home Depot Center in Carson a few years back. At the time, I was easing back into the game after a long spell of missing Pete Sampras, and I remember being really excited about watching my hero play again. Now, of course, I’m a tennis snob and accept only real sweat and tears. But that exo match was my “gateway drug” to full-fledged tennis addiction, which proves Peter Bodo’s point. So I guess I’m voting for option number two. . .
The Billie Jean King Cup will be shown on Monday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. (EST), LIVE on HBO.