US Open Triples Tennis Debut Reviews Mixed

Flushing, NY, September 4, 2014 -- The worldwide premier for professional triples tennis at this year's US Open tournament received mixed reviews from veteran players and commentators, but the overall audience impression was positive. First Round Match 1 in Men's Triples went as predicted, with an easy 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 defeat by favored Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Rafael Nadal over unseeded players Micael Ivanonavov, Eiliat Prokotoftin and Silininorev Tjuk. Fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium spoke highly of the new dynamism the variation added to the sport, but some expressed concern that the contact element diminishes its purity.

Nadal secured the third and final set with a netside counter-riposte on Ivanonavov that allowed Roddick to slip a looping ground stroke past the momentarily stunned defenseman and up the middle, where freshly rotated back players Prokotoftin and Tjuk collided, missing the rebound. The triumphant triumvirate plans to steamroll its way to victory during this premier season, and based on today's performance there's little to stand in their way.

Triples tennis, which has been working its way through the amateur and local circuits over the past few years and only now makes its first appearance on the international pro level, was developed by network sports executives in conjunction with the USTA to counteract flagging viewer interest in traditional doubles. Jeffrey Garney, USTA Vice President, explains:

"We've seen an increasing trend over the years toward the preemption of doubles finals in favor of eighth round matches in singles, and the sport has suffered as larger numbers of top players consistently refused to participate. Last year's Open final, for example, was won by two players who weren't even ranked in the top thousand for singles nationally. One of their opponents was a trained orangutan, and even though the ape has a hell of a backhand, his overhead was hopeless. How can you expect a solid smash from the back court from someone who's two and a half feet tall? We had to make a change."

Triples tennis incorporates a number of new features designed to draw both audience and top singles players back into the sport. Similar in many respects to doubles, the variation features a third player on either team, dubbed the Spoiler, who moves freely on both sides of the net, playing both offense and defense. Players rotate positions after every point. Spoilers cannot move past the opponent's service box, but are allowed to run interference from that point during serves by waving, shouting taunts, and attempting to pass gas if the server is downwind. The opponent's spoiler on serve may remain on his home court to counter the other spoiler's interference, or he may choose to act as a shield for his own team's serves by prancing hectically on the opposing team's court. Racquet-to-racquet contact between spoilers is permitted, for which traditional fencing terminology is used.

"It takes a little getting used to," said a jubilant Roddick after the team's first round rout, "but it's a damn good game. You run around a lot more than in traditional doubles, and the fencing elements will lead to some innovative racquet designs. This is a sport to keep your eye on."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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