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Tomic’s Davis Cup Debut Shows Flaws In Tennis Australia

March 6, 2010

There’s nothing quite like live tennis. If there is a match on T.V that you are semi-interested in, you can always be assured that watching it live is one hundred times better. Knowing this, I decided to attend the first Davis Cup tie between Australia and Chinese Taipei on Friday. My primary reason for going was to see the great Australian hope, Bernard Tomic. I intended to learn more about his game, his controversial personality, and perhaps sneak a peek at his infamous father who had banned Tomic from talking to the media after his surprise selection.

I didn’t get to see any of it. The infamous father was seated out of my view or not at all, Tomic showed off a monotone and lack of spark in his post match interview, and most disappointing of all, Tomic hardly had to play tennis. Chinese Taipei sent out Yang Tsung-Hua to meet Tomic. Having never heard of him, I wasn’t expecting much. What I got though was barely tennis. Tsung-Hua had a passable serve, a non-existant volley as demonstrated in the warm-up, a shaky forehand, and a terrible backhand. I don’t mean to lash out at Tsung-Hua, I am sure he is a very amicable young man, but he really was no match for the seventeen year old Tomic. Tomic barely had to play his way to a 6-2 6-1 6-1 win. He demonstrated a solid game, but little of what all the hype is about. Of course, he didn’t get a chance to.

I learnt nothing new about Tomic on Friday except that he’s much taller than I expected, standing at 6’4, and his earring looks even worse in person. These revelations were hardly worth the $60 I paid. After the match, I learnt that Tsung Hua won the junior French Open but hasn’t done much in the seniors yet. He’s ranked 322 and has made a total career prize money of $57,466. Something I probably should have checked out before swiping the credit card.

I did get a little insight, however, as to why tennis in Australia is struggling and what the powers that be are doing about it. Obviously the lack of quality opposition was a big downfall yesterday, but this is hardly surprising considering Australia lack a solid team of their own. With Lleyton Hewitt often injured and ageing rapidly, names such as Peter Luczak and Carsten Ball are hardly going to draw the crowds or boost Australia up to a level where at least the opposition will. Which is why I suspect that Bernard Tomic was chosen over Carsten Ball. Like him or loath him, Tomic could go far with his mental strength and talent, and that means people show an interest. I would not have gone to the tie if Tomic wasn’t playing, and many people left after his match.

Amongst the people who left after Tomic demolished Tsung-Hua were about five Australian primary school classes. I do not know who thought of the idea to bring children to try to fill the empty stands, but it was brilliant. The kids were enthusiastic and well-behaved, but more importantly, they are exactly the people Tennis Australia need to target when promoting the sport. Children are the future of Australian tennis, but if they never see a match they could never discover a love for the game and turn to the more popular AFL or rugby league. Taking children to the Davis Cup is a step in the right direction towards promoting tennis in Australia.

If somebody up there did the right thing by encouraging children to attend the tie, then someone else counteracted this positive step by deciding not to broadcast the tie on either free to air or pay T.V. Whilst Australian tennis fans could tune into France versus Germany at 1am on Foxtel, the only way to watch the Australian tie without attending was by live streaming on the internet. It doesn’t take a degree in Sports Management to realise that this is a shocking way to promote the sport. The only people who watch tennis online are already tennis fans. Having no television coverage means fans have to go out of their way to watch, and the rest of the population have no chance of stumbling upon it whatsoever.

Tennis Australia sure is taking an interesting route towards promoting the game. With no coverage on T.V and tickets a $60 a day, it takes a tennis nut to even know the results. I didn’t learn anything extra about Tomic, and I wouldn’t say the match was particularly enjoyable, but I did learn a lot about the promotion of tennis in Australia. Good luck to Australia for the rest of the year, (they have already won this tie 3-0 as I write), but I won’t be watching them on T.V. I can’t. However, considering, the quality of the match I did see live, perhaps that’s a good thing.

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