Fixing Tennis?

I love tennis, both watching and playing it, which is why Scott Adams’ suggestions for fixing it in his Sports are Broken post caught my attention:

For example, when tennis was invented, serving was just a way to start the rally. One player bunted the ball into the service box and it was on.

Fast-forward to 2014.

Now the pros are 6’8″, their rackets and strings are made from exotic materials, and they are trained to serve at 140 miles per hour. As you might imagine, that creates a lot of double-faults and aces. Both are boring.

To fix tennis, eliminate the serve. That is already happening where I live. A group of folks in my town already play without the serve. Under the no-serve rules either player can start the rally and the point is live on the third hit. You play to 21, win by two, so no more funky tennis scoring with the 15-30-40 ridiculousness. This version of tennis is about twice as fun as playing serve-and-miss while wishing you were getting some exercise.

As someone who relies heavily on his serve this would not be good for me – when I’m practicing with guys at the same level as me and we play games that don’t involve serving I lose more often than I win – but I tend to agree with his assessment. I also really like the first to 21, win by two, idea. That rewards fitness due to less breaks in the action and helps reduce the likelihood of losing to someone who hits a hot streak like you see in regular seven- or ten-point tiebreakers.

On another note, even if we keep the serve I think the “let” call should be eliminated as John McEnroe has suggested in the past. That will speed up play and add an element of adventure to points just as regular net cord shots do.

Even if the pros don’t do it I think amateur play would be greatly enhanced by these kinds of changes.

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