New tennis tournament in France aiming for younger audienceJune 9, 2020
With discussions ongoing over whether the US Open or the French Open can even take place later this year, a new digitally friendly tennis tournament starts on Saturday in southern France with four Top 10-ranked players involved.Co-founder Patrick Mouratoglou hopes the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) whose first edition features ATP Finals winner Stefanos Tsitsipas and US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini can change the way tennis is viewed by allowing a younger audience to access the raw feelings of players.
“I would like the fans to benefit from better access to the players’ emotions, especially on the court where the code of conduct is a significant obstacle to that,” Mouratoglou said.
“UTS aims to appeal to a younger, more engaged new generation of fans in order to grow its fanbase community.”
Players compete every weekend for five weeks in a round robin format, their matches streamed on a live platform, with multiple screens, cameras and speakers capturing every sight and sound, according to organizers.
And that’s the whole point: allowing viewers unprecedented access to all that goes on in a game. Ramping up the rawness, rather than filtering it out.
Mouratoglou, who is also the coach of 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, founded the UTS with Australian player Alexei Popyrin, who is also playing.
They want to change how tennis is experienced through a faster-pace format featuring more interaction, where on-court coaching is encouraged rather than frowned upon.
“(Players) will interact in real time with their fans, share conversations between themselves and coaches and carry themselves more freely on court,” the UTS said.
Spectators play a role in what unfolds; they interact with the players and can ask questions on changeovers, see what’s happening behind the scenes in the lives of players, and hear every word exchanged between coaches and players. That could well turn Benoit Paire into a global online star.
The 30-year-old Frenchman, ranked No. 22, is known as much for his explosive temper and his on-court rants – often directed at himself as for his erratic but sometimes ingenious stroke play.
The event is being held at Mouratoglou’s academy near Antibes on the sun-soaked French Riviera. Because of coronavirus restrictions no fans are allowed on site. A safety protocol with social distancing and a limited amount of staff has been established. – AP