2014 ESPN & US Open TV Coverage

August 29th, 2014

Hey Tennis Friends!

Up until this point, my tennis coverage has featured exclusive video highlights, photos, and interviews. Editorializing is not what I am known for, however, if my goal is to entice more fans into the sport of tennis, some of my television production background expertise may be of some value.

I have yet to find anybody who is thrilled with the coverage and/or commentators for this years’ US Open Championships, here in the United States. Of course, we all know that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, but maybe, just maybe, there is a way to please most of the people, most of the time.

Despite the fact that it may adversely affect my opportunities to ever do any work for them, my criticism is of ESPN Networks, or more specifically, the channels ESPN and ESPN2. Why ESPN’s channels? Because they are on the “basic” tier of nearly EVERY cable system, whereas Tennis Channel is not. In fact, Tennis Channel is usually an add on, for an additional charge, and here at GroundsPass.net, we strive for the least expensive way to enjoy this sport.

Yes, there is the online streaming side, ESPN3.com, but not everyone has the luxury of high speed internet and/or handy devices to connect to it. Besides, even when you are viewing a full-screen shot of the on court action, it is difficult to see the subtleties, and therefore less enjoyable to watch on a much smaller screen. You may as well just watch scores changing on a smartphone app.

Quad Split Screen Shot of ESPN3.com feed

Quad Split Screen Shot of ESPN3.com feed

Without getting into too many specifics of this past week’s coverage frustrations, I have come up with a formula for deciding what to cover during US Open television coverage on ESPN:

Criteria #1: Player popularity.
For some, it is clear that they are a popular player, for others, not so much. It is not necessarily based on their ranking. Sure Murray is #9, but instead of baseline tennis, wouldn’t you rather watch the athleticism and character of Tsonga(#10)? Monfils(#24)? Or, even Baghdatis(#86)?

Criteria #2: Nationality.
ESPN is predominantly a North American network. People in the Untied States want to see players from the United States. Featuring players from the United States inspires kids and adults from the United States to keep up with this sport. Are we getting this yet?
I commended ESPN for their decision to feature the entire second round match of upcoming junior CiCi Bellis. THAT was the correct decision. But when the evening broadcast began (continuous from day session) with talking people at the desk, instead of going straight to the Williams sister’s third set of doubles, I was left rubbing my smoothed-out head in disbelief. Maybe I’m mistaken, but for North America, isn’t that a more desirable match to see than the first set of Andy Murray v. Matthias Bachinger?

Criteria #3: Crowd size.
The crowd at Flushing Meadows is a national cross-section as well as an international one. Since the broadcast is driven by “eyes on the screen” for the advertisers (or, should be), there is an easy way to determine what your audience is looking for. The popularity sampling is right there in front of you sitting in the seats. If 300 people are in the stands for one match, and 3,000 are in the stands for another, that is a pretty good indication of where the majority of the television audience’s interest will be for your broadcast. There are regular camera set ups on more than a handful of courts. What better market research than LIVE, real-time, dynamic statistics?

Criteria #4: Drama.
Nothing beats great, live drama on television. Steve Johnson struggling to overcome his debilitating cramps, for me, was much better drama (though painful to watch) than whatever was happening on the other courts at that time. Compelling television, indeed, that was only available via streaming, and not on ESPN or ESPN2. A five second highlight clip down the road did not do justice to the courageous struggle that was coming from America’s fastest rising men’s player.

I am convinced that using this formula, in this order, will net a more engaged viewing audience, and please more people, more of the time. We need the media’s help in keeping tennis “local”, if you will. More people watching equals more people playing, and that helps to build the tennis community in this country.

Tell me what you think, and what you may change, in the comments.

Be sure to share GroundsPass.net with your other Tennis Friends using the social networking buttons, below.

Subscribe for FREE to this site, my Twitter feed, and/or friend me on FaceBook.

I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!

- Marcus Tennis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

2014 USTA Girls’ 18s Nationals

August 17th, 2014

Hey Tennis Friends!

Last weekend, I visited the finals of the USTA Girls’ 18s National Hard Court Championships at the Barnes Family Tennis Center in San Diego, California. At stake at these Championships is the title of National Champion, and with it a Wild Card entry into the main draw of the US Open Women’s Championships for the 18s Champion in singles and doubles!

This event was actually a combined 16s & 18s girls’ championships, however, I was not able to make it out for the 16s finals that were held the previous day.

The results for the matches that I featured in this video report are:

GIRLS’ 18s SINGLES Championship (with seedings)
(2)CiCi Bellis d. (5)Tornado Ali Black 6-3, 6-1

Black broke Bellis in the second game of the opening set and went on to establish a 3-0 lead. Bellis rebounded as she began matching Black stroke for stroke from the baseline as the momentum of the match shifted in her favor.

Bellis, won six straight games to wrap-up the first set in 50 minutes. In the second set, Bellis took a 3-0 lead before Black held serve at love to make the score 3-1.

After falling behind 0-30 on her serve in the fifth game, Bellis won the next eight points, as she held serve, then broke Black at love to increase her lead to 5-1. Serving for the match, Bellis fought off a break point and went on to close out the match with a forehand winner on her second match point.

Fifteen year old Bellis has compiled a 34-4 record in international junior competition this summer, winning four International Tennis Federation junior singles titles. She arrived at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships as the No. 2 ranked junior player in the world!
The sixteen year old, Black, reached the 2013 US Open Girls’ singles final as an unseeded wild card, was a Wimbledon junior quarterfinalist, and won her second career USTA Pro Circuit title last month. She arrived at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships as the No. 4 ranked junior player in the world!

GIRLS’ 18s DOUBLES Championship (with seedings)
(1)Louisa Chirico / Kat Stewart
d. (6)Josie Kuhlman / Kaitlyn McCarthy 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

All these players had strong singles showings at this event, as well. In fact, (16)Kuhlman took out her partner, (17)McCarthy, in the Round of 32, before losing to (5)Tornado Ali Black in the Round of 16.
(3)Stewart, who won three USTA Pro Circuit $10,000 singles titles this year and last month captured the USTA Girls’ 18s National Clay Court singles title, got knocked out in the Round of 16, while (1)Chirico lost in the singles semifinal to Black.

For more complete scores and entries to this tournamnet, follow this link:
2014 USTA Girls’ National Championships

Be sure to share GroundsPass.net with your other Tennis Friends using the social networking buttons, below.

Subscribe for FREE to this site, my Twitter feed, and/or friend me on FaceBook.

I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!

- Marcus Tennis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

2013 USTA Men’s League

August 11th, 2014

Hey Tennis Friends!

In favor of more timely events, I will always “time shift” my coverage of my USTA League matches. The dates may reflect the previous year, but, it is ALL NEW content!

This report is from our “combo” league season, where the participating doubles player’s combined ratings must stay below the 8.0 limit, for our particular division.

Our first set lasted 39 minutes.
Our second set lasted 30 minutes.

Jerry and I have a weekly evening group that we rotate around in and, in addition, he fills in quite often in another group that I play with on another evening. We get a lot of practice together as a team. Go Team ASICS!

My results for this season, so far, are:

Local District/Area 8.0 Combo
0-wins, 1-loss

Be sure to share GroundsPass.net with your other Tennis Friends using the social networking buttons, below.

Subscribe for FREE to this site, my Twitter feed, and/or friend me on FaceBook.

I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!

- Marcus Tennis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

2014 WTT: San Diego Aviators II

July 22nd, 2014

Hey Tennis Friends!

The 2014 World Team Tennis season is winding down. I went out to another event with my local team, the San Diego Aviators, and got some great highlights and interviews!

Only three more home matches for this season, including one TONIGHT, as of this posting!

Of course, when I was speaking with the Bryan brothers about their “tournaments together”, I was referring to their tournament championship wins together. I’m not even sure if anyone has tallied up how many tournaments that they have actually played in together.

Did Michael Russell just tip me off that he was retiring after this years’ U.S. Open? He is the oldest player in the Top 100, just three months older than Tommy Haas, but he has proven that he can still get good wins on the ATP Tour with his quarterfinal beat down of Lleyton Hewitt in Memphis this year. He reached the semifinal of that event, but has not had a doubles win in 2014.

Mike has been on GroundsPass.net before and is one of my favorite players, not just because of his athleticism and drive, but he is also a short player like I am. I cannot play a “tall man’s” game, so I look to dynamic players like Russell to inspire me to keep up the good work.

I’ve given you a taste of what it is like attending one of these events. In order to get the full experience, you REALLY have to come down and see the action LIVE and in person!

The World Team Tennis season is a short one, and there are only THREE home matches left for the Aviators, including this Thursday’s semifinal playoff, so don’t wait, get your tickets now! Their marquee players will ALL be playing the last THREE matches. That’s right, you can come see Daniela Hantuchova and the Bryan Brothers at each remaining home match.

For information on the current season of Southern California’s brand new World Team Tennis team, go to the official San Diego Aviators website: SanDiegoAviators.com

Or, look for YOUR local team
on the official World Team Tennis website here: wtt.com

Be sure to share GroundsPass.net with your other Tennis Friends using the social networking buttons, below.

Subscribe for FREE to this site, my Twitter feed, and/or friend me on FaceBook.

I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!

- Marcus Tennis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

2014 WTT: San Diego Aviators

July 15th, 2014

Hey Tennis Friends!

The 2014 World Team Tennis season has begun and I made a stop by the newest team in the league that just so happens to be right in my area: the San Diego Aviators!

In this featured match the Aviators take on the Boston Lobsters in the comfort of indoor air conditioning. What a great way to get out of the Southern California heat!

Before the match, I had a brief talk with Megan Moulton-Levy who told me that this time she is glad that she is playing with Coco Vandeweghe, rather than against her, like last season! By the way, Coco has moved up one notch since this video was recorded and is currently #41 in the world!

For the record, Daniela Hantuchova’s Grand Slam mixed doubles championship wins include:
2001 Wimbledon with Leos Friedl
2002 Australian Open with Kevin Ullyett
2005 Roland Garros with Fabrice Santoro
2005 U.S. Open with Mahesh Bhupati

I’ve given you a taste of what it is like attending one of these events. In order to get the full experience, you REALLY have to come down and see the action LIVE and in person!

The World Team Tennis season is a short one, and there are only THREE home matches left for the Aviators, so don’t wait, get your tickets now! Their marquee players will ALL be playing the last THREE matches. That’s right, you can come see Daniela Hantuchova and the Bryan Brothers each remaining home match.

For information on the current season of Southern California’s brand new World Team Tennis team, go to the official San Diego Aviators website: SanDiegoAviators.com

Or, look for YOUR local team
on the official World Team Tennis website here: wtt.com

Be sure to share GroundsPass.net with your other Tennis Friends using the social networking buttons, below.

Subscribe for FREE to this site, my Twitter feed, and/or friend me on FaceBook.

I’ll see you next time, with more tennis, . . . outside the lines!

- Marcus Tennis

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)