International Blog – Michael Dickens
Quick, what did this year’s Wimbledon men’s singles final, the Laver Cup and the Challenger Tour’s Murray Trophy doubles final all have in common? The outcomes of all of these tennis events were decided by match tie-breakers, something which can be like a lottery and, often, are decided quickly.
However, the future of tennis, Mark Milne believes, requires having alternative scoring formats in order to inspire interest from younger players, drive participation by older players and to encourage competition among players of all ages.
Milne, a mechanical design engineer and tennis enthusiast from Arbroath, Scotland, who is passionate about racquet sports, has devised “Thirty30 Tennis – Where Every Point Really Counts” as an alternative to the current, traditional “Fast-four” format of the sport in which sets are currently decided by winner of four games with no ad-scoring and no lets and the third set is decided by a 10-point match tie-break.
With “Thirty30” (T30) – a tennis equivalent to cricket’s Twenty20 (T20) – Milne says it encourages competition, in which a set can be completed in an average of 20 minutes.
• Every game played starts at a score of 30-30 (called “Thirty-Thirty).
• At six-games all, a 9-point tie-break is played with the winner being the first to five points and sudden death played at 4-all.
• Players serve alternate games and only change ends after “two and four” games played instead of after “one and two” games, as per traditional rules.
• No ad and no let rules are not used in the Thirty30 format.
Milne believes that a final set (winning by two games such as 7-5 or 8-6) of Thirty30 tennis produces a fairer match decider than the third set 10-point match tie-break, “which can be a lottery.”
According to Milne, a set of Thirty30 tennis takes no longer than 20 minutes, a best-of-three sets match lasts 60 minutes and the duration of a best-of-five sets is 90 minutes.
“Every second point played is a game point and this leads to very exciting matches,” Milne explained during a recent email interview. “Youngsters especially like the shorter, faster moving more exciting format.”
Milne said he hopes to convince the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to have Thirty30 officially trialled as an alternative shorter scoring method. And, it’s his goal to have the ATP and WTA give Thirty30 a serious look, too.
“I firmly believe that Thirty30 can work for the ITF, ATP and WTA as an alternative to traditional tennis,” said Milne, whose love of tennis goes back to watching the 1972 Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles final as a kid on a small black and white TV set, between future Hall of Famers Stan Smith and Ilie Nastase, which went five sets and was won by Smith.
“I am convinced that Thirty30 is better than Tie-Break Tens, Fast4 (such as is used during the ATP Next Gen Finals) and can be a better alternative to the third-set tie-break as it produces shorter, more dynamic sets of tennis that respects the traditions of tennis and still feels, looks and sounds like traditional tennis,” said Milne.
“My aim is to prove this through asking tennis people all over the world to try T30. The beauty of T30 is that it is very simple and the transition from traditional scoring to T30 is seamless for everyone involved.”
Hundreds of testimonials have been posted on Thirty30’s website. Among them, “Thirty30 was great. Very smooth, very quick and very efficient. I use it fairly often with the guys to keep things moving. Tennis needs this.” Another wrote, “Thirty30 is a great idea to shorten games. I like the system. I think the concept is good for coaching and drills and appreciate its thought. It is also good for the youngsters. They will learn the after-deuce-grind and they will still get the feel of momentum changes.”
According to Milne, Thirty30 would be an ideal format for tennis broadcasts on TV by allowing for advertisements at the change of ends and at the end of the 20-minute sets. Plus, there would be a maximum of only three change of ends per set and with the speed up of play, matches would be less physical and easier on the players, and spectators would see more matches and more players, too. Additionally, the Thirty30 format can be used where extremely hot weather requires shorter matches be played or if inclement weather has delayed an event.
“I believe that Thirty30 still provides a fair test of skill and ability and the better player on the day still wins,” said Milne. “Going forward, this is very important because any new, shorter format has to be credible to both the players and the spectators. At the top level, best-of-5 sets matches using T30 provides this. At club level, including seniors, best-of-3 sets provides this.”
At a time in which many if not all sports are looking at shorter formats that are both participant and fan friendly – not to mention combatting our shorter attention spans – Thirty30 deserves a serious look and chance to succeed.
To learn more about Thirty30, visit: www.thirty30tennis.com