Tennis: 27k fans came but some clueless about format

Tennis: 27k fans came but some clueless about format
Fans may have enjoyed themselves at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. But many were left confused by the IPTL’s rules. They include throwing a red towel onto court to call a Happiness Power point – meaning the next point counts double.

SINGAPORE - Local fans seem to have embraced the truncated format of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) as it made a pitstop at the Singapore Indoor Stadium over the past three days.

However, many feel that more could be done in explaining the unique innovations to the sport, especially to those who are not seasoned followers.

Said Rohini Preetha, who bought a season ticket and attended every day: "I play tennis but, even then, I had problems understanding it at the start.

"But I got it after three or four sets."

The 41-year-old housewife said she appreciated the refreshing changes but suggested that the rules be briefly explained to spectators before each tie.

"Normally, we'll watch one player play for three hours but this is short and sweet, and we get to see different players," she noted.

Emily Chia, 21, felt the league's innovations helped keep the event interesting to watch.

"I don't really like the shot clock because of the beeping but the power points make it very interesting, since it can change the course of a match with a single point," said the accounting student at Singapore Management University.

According to the organisers, 27,250 spectators attended the three-day IPTL event.

Still, comparisons with the season-ending WTA Finals - held just weeks ago at the same venue and featuring the top women's players in action - were inevitable.

Said auditor Kelly Khoo, 20: "The atmosphere at the WTA Finals felt quite different, like more of a proper competition. The crowd seemed to be more into it then.

"This feels a bit more like an exhibition tournament, even though the players seem to be taking it seriously.

"It's a bit disappointing, though, that players like Novak Djokovic did not come to Singapore."

Jerry Tam, a 37-year-old IT analyst, echoed the view that the IPTL's sustained success is dependent on being able to showcase the biggest names.

He said: "If you are able to bring in the biggest stars, even the non-tennis fans will come.

"Or else, you'd be appealing only to a niche market."

While IPTL founder Mahesh Bhupathi is hopeful his brainchild will evolve to include the sport's iconic players at every stop, he also said: "While we think we've achieved something out of the box here - which was very challenging - we really have to be realistic in terms of what is possible and what's not.

"We're blessed to have the likes of Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Djokovic playing, which gives it a lot of profile and respect."

The Indian doubles player added that there are plans for the IPTL to return to Singapore "year after year" and revealed that two teams will be added next year.

"We'll do whatever it takes to make this as perfect as possible."

This article was first published on December 5, 2014.
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