Thanks to Serena Williams and stupid Justin Gimelstob, I actually sat down and tuned into my first World Team Tennis match last week. Long story short, I didn't love it, I didn't hate, but I'll never watch it again (except maybe at the end of the season when Gimelstob's Kastles are set to play Anna K's St. Louis Aces.
Things I didn't hate:
- Playing let serves. Sure most of them land for aces, but it really did make the game go faster.
- The cumulative scoring. For the uninitiated, WTT matches consist of five sets (Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles, Men's Singles, and Women's Singles) of five games each. The aggregate number of games won is the final score of the match. This means that even if the score is 4-1, the losing team is fighting for each game.
- The winning team has to win the final set, otherwise the losing team can continue to play until the aggregate score is even, at which time the teams play a super-tiebreak. I guess this obviously keeps the matches interesting in case of a blowout. And in this particular case it was really interesting because Serena's Kastles were down by 9 games going into her final singles match. She won the set 5-3, which meant the Kastles were now down by 4. So if Serena could reel off four straight games (which she was more than capable of doing), the match would go to tiebreak. Admittedly it kept things interesting (she wasn't able to do it by the way).
Things I didn't love:
- Cheering during the points and while serving. I'm sorry, but tennis is a sport that revolves around class and sportsmanship. In what other sport do you see athletes apologize for luck? So it was a real shock and turn-off to hear the crowd cheer when players missed first serves and then start chanting "double fault" while they attempted the second point. It reminded me of Fed Cup and Davis Cup matches that are held in non-tennis educated countries. It's tennis, not football/soccer.
- No Ad Scoring. It makes the games so arbitrary. You should be forced to win two points in a row to win a game. It makes the final score more meaningful because you earned it.
- The weird colored court. It looked like romper room.
Was it entertaining? Sure. But the whole thing seemed so horribly contrived. And it concerns me that the WTT is trying to sell it as tennis. It's not tennis. If it was just an exhibition event it would be fine. But the players and the WTT itself are trying to sell it as some sort of competitive event. It's not. It's not even close.