Tennis of the future: bass, lightning and roar

Dthe speaker in the hall gives his all. “Frankfurt, it’s louder,” he shouts over and over, while the “Laola” he demands spills a little timidly into the stands of the gymnasium. “Quiet, please, you won’t hear us,” he promised the crowd a few minutes earlier. “Our motto is: make some noise!”

Now he keeps his word and encourages the fans to make noise. The traditional but somewhat outdated sport of tennis wants to present itself in a new fashionable guise this weekend. The fiery atmosphere is part of it – even if you have to help it from time to time.

The rules on the field are new.

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown, or UTS for short, is the name of the format in which eight top international players played an exhibition tournament of sorts in Frankfurt over the weekend. It was developed by star French coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who coached Serena Williams for many years, who wanted to use it to inspire young audiences to play tennis.

Much is new, first of all, the rules of the game on the field. Instead of sets with serves, OTS plays four quarters of ten minutes in a tiebreaker mode. There are no second serves, no replays on the grid, and no bonus cards that can triple the value of plays.

There is no shortage of pithy remarks to accompany this spectacle. “Tennis like never before,” say banners in and around the hall. Tennis like never before. “It starts now,” the revolution begins. As a tennis fan, you want to be there, right? There were about 3,500 spectators in the ball gym at the start on Friday, a full house on Saturday with 5,000, and on Sunday there were also over 4,000 spectators who wanted to get their own insight into how Mouratoglou and his team envision the future. tennis

However, there are still a few spots available when Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman begin their semi-final match early on Sunday morning. But it does not matter. No waiting is one of the most important rules in OTS. Not for the spectators, not until the stands calm down, not even until the laser show or music has ended. Players have only 15 seconds before serving. And while the bass is still blaring and the lights are still flashing, the food is still being served.

There is almost constant lightning and thunder at the GTS. The tennis event is a mixture of a circus, a sporting event and a nightclub party. What fits into the picture is that on this warm and humid September Sunday, the ball gym is as hot as it usually is at the disco. Both players and fans are sweating profusely. Music is blaring from the speakers. After every match. After every sentence. After every rally.

– What does the ball tell you?

The fifth fight between Schwartzman and Dimitrov is the first spectacular one. “Madre mia,” the audience announcer immediately shouts after the Argentine lands a powerful backhand down the line. The duel also offers some long plays. Players are interviewed between each quarter, although the knowledge gain for the audience is limited. “If you’re playing as well as I am right now, the ball will tell you what to do,” says Dimitrou, who just scored back-to-back impressive points. “What is the ball telling you at this moment?” – asks the moderator. “Where to run and how to hit,” Dimitrov answers.

The Frenchman Benoit Paire will be the crowd favorite on Sunday. Although he clearly loses in the semi-finals to Russian top 10 player Andrey Rublev, he undoubtedly puts in the best performance of the day. After a lost quarter, he lounges on the sofa, which is located to the side rather than on the players’ bench, and allows the coach to fan him with a towel. He teases his opponent with remarks and entertains the audience with tricks and jokes. The atmosphere is amazing – no shouting announcers in the room.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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