I worked as a ball person at the U.S. Open for three years. During which, I was runner-up for ball person rookie of the year. (Don’t call me a ball boy!) I worked matches for many great players, including David Ferrer, James Blake, David Nalbandian, the Bryan Brothers – and too many Russian women to mention here. By the end of my ball person career, I felt that I should be working at the Russian embassy.
Now retired from running after balls and fetching towels, I watch from the sidelines, and I have some suggestions for the Open. First off, I am very concerned about the Open’s towel situation, specifically the towel that players use to dry themselves off between points. It just doesn’t seem sanitary, to say the least. This towel is handled by multiple sweaty palms and often winds up on the ground. When that occurs, I cringe. Let’s solve by creating a special hanger for the towel. With this, the player and only the player will handle his or her towel, and it will stay off the ground. Towel problem solved.
Right now, many of the matches, especially the men’s are just too long. Who has four hours to watch a match? Let’s quicken the matches by getting rid of the breaks between odd games. During the switch, the players can just walk to the other end of the court without sitting. Yes, they can take a gulp of water. They’ll be able to get rid of the chairs, which seem to get in the way anyway, and endurance will become more of a factor.
Right now, coaching during matches is forbidden. However, players often seem to break this rule. Since it’s being ignored anyway, allow coaching, at least between odd games. Since the players have become somewhat robotic and predictable in recent years, the coaches might add some much-needed color to the game.
If it weren’t for the Bryan Brothers and their failed Grand Slam bid this past year, no one would give a damn about doubles. Even with that, few cared. Don’t get me started on mixed doubles! Just a few years ago, there was a rallying call to kill doubles altogether as a US Open event. Somehow doubles lives on, but it seems to be perpetually on life support. Unfortunately, it’s just not a lot of fun to watch. It’s tennis for the drag racing set, and the points are just too fast. If the court were made larger for doubles, it very well might lead to longer, more exciting points. This change is logical. The racquets have gotten bigger, and the players seem bigger. The courts for doubles should be bigger, and this change might finally make doubles a draw.
A few years ago, the courts at the Open suddenly turned blue. Open officials made a big deal about it at the time. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Well, it is a big deal. The matches are much easier on the eye. With that adjustment in mind, let’s change the color of the balls. Why do they have to always be yellow? Sometimes change can be good. I’m leaning toward orange.