Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flawed Tennis Ranking System Reaction Boosts My Case

Remember the other day when I wrote about tennis and said one of the big problems was that people in charge simply won’t admit when something is wrong? Well, another example jumped up this morning and even though I know there are about eight people in the country who really care about tennis right now, it is impossible not to comment.

At this moment the No. 1 ranked female player in the world is Dinara Safina. You know, THE Dinara Safina, winner of, wait let me add them up, ZERO major titles. She is ranked ahead of Serena Williams, who has won three of the last four majors, because the ranking system doles out enough points for wins in places like Madrid and Rome to keep Safina ahead of Williams, who, at this point in her career, doesn’t get very fired up to play except in the majors.

So, what do the powers in women’s tennis have to say about this obvious flaw in the ranking system?

The latest head of the Women’s Tennis Association, someone named Stacey Allaster, said this to Reuters: “Without question, based on the ranking system, with consistent performance at the slams and at the tours, Dinara Safina is the number one player.”

Billie Jean King called the ranking system, “great.”

“It shows support for the (King, of course mentioned the tour’s corporate sponsor) tour,” she said. “It’s not just winning Grand Slams.”

Really, being number one isn’t about winning Grand Slams? It’s about winning in Madrid? The Bush Administration really missed the boat not hiring these people to explain why the war in Iraq was going so well.

Even my friend Mary Carillo, usually the voice of reason, tried to defend the ranking system saying (correctly) that it is designed to get the stars to play more often.

Only two problems with that: It isn’t working, it’s getting Dinara Safina to play more often and, there should be ways to get stars to play more often without tieing it to ranking.

You win three majors in 12 months you’re number one even if you don’t win another match—period.

What the WTA should be doing is finding a way to make their stars play a minimum number of events aside from the rankings. At the very least ADMIT there’s a problem. Don’t sit back there and say all is well when clearly all isn’t well.

But that’s tennis. The people in charge think if they keep saying everything is fine, people will believe everything is fine.

Maybe this new WTA chairman can fly into an aircraft carrier sometime and say, “Mission accomplished.”


Tim B said...

Sounds like you think the leadership in the game is too inbred in their thinking?

How was the WTA guy that just left for the PAC10 Commissioner job? He got painted as an outside the box thinker...maybe they will miss him. Or maybe thats not what he is, which would fit the PAC10 fine.

chris said...

huge sports fan here, and I'd honestly never heard of this #1 women's player.

alnc said...

This wouldn't be a problem if the A-list players had been actively supporting the sport by showing up at the non-slam tournaments. They didn't do that, often pulling out at the last minute after ad campaigns touted their participation--that hacks off the fans and really turns off local coverage of the sport, too. The rating system was changed to encourage participation. It should not have been necessary as any thinking person understands that interest in tennis has been dropping off and that one of the best ways to rekindle interest is in having the star players show up in local events.

Yes, the rating system should be canned because it is now seen as a joke but good luck in finding "ways to get stars to play more often..." Watch tennis continue its downward slide.