Despite Serena’s absence, lovely to have seen four American women in the U.S. Open semifinals.
Maybe some of the humongous developmental spending the USTA has been doing for years is finally beginning to pay off. Netting north of $100 million annually from the Open alone, the USTA certainly has plenty of bucks available — thanks to those $18 hamburgers and $10 ice cream confections — to grow the sport. But, notwithstanding the good showing this year, truth be told, participation at the grassroots level in the U.S. is down compared to 20-25 years ago, when playing on a public court meant booking time long in advance.
See for yourself. Next time you pass a public court see if it’s in use. Unlikely. Or, check out the tennis courts at your local country club. Either they’re gone altogether, have been converted to some other use, or they’re empty. Which is really all you need to know.
Well, maybe this year’s Open will provide a lift. And in a few weeks the movie “Battle of the Sexes”, about the exhibition match between the incomparable Billie Jean and Bobby Riggs, will be out, and it should help, too. It’s still a great sport. Physically as demanding as any sport and highly cerebral. And one to be enjoyed for a lifetime.