So I was thinking today about the tournaments I won't be going to on my January adventure - namely, the Moorilla International in Hobart and Kooyong in Melbourne - and that got me to thinking about the phenomenon that is the exhibition tournament. (Obviously, Hobart has nothing to do with this, but whatevs).
Players are always complaining about their crazy tennis schedules - and with good reason, I do believe. I'm sure if I was pushing my body to the edge eleven months of the year I'd be pretty cranky about it too. But yet they still play these exhos, which sort of undermines their credibility in this arena some. So this begs the question... why?
The obvious answer is the cash, because these things are obviously huge cashcows. But the top tennis players - i.e. the people that get asked to play exhos - are ridiculously rich anyway, rolling around in piles of filthy lucre. So money alone doesn't seem to be enough, and without the points you'd get you have no incentive there, and with the already packed schedule... so why exho?
I think, personally, it's because of trick shots.
One thing you always hear when you watch tennis is the term 'percentage play'. Players that play high percentage plays all the time -people that play it safe - are stupidly boring to watch, and I can't imagine percentage tennis is that much fun to play either. But if it's your career, then you're not going to go risking losing your match because you want to try stuff out. In fact, the only player I've ever really seen try stuff out in a tournament match is Roger Federer, when he's sailing ahead lightyears in front, and even then it's sometimes not an especially good idea.
But exhos? You've been paid your cash and you don't have any points riding on the line, so why not cut loose and have fun? Nothing to gain so there's nothing to lose - so it becomes all about the shots.
Which begs the question... why isn't more exhibition tennis televised? Because that stuff is a watcher's paradise.
3 months ago