SBJ/July 17-23, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

TeamTennis stays out front with move to mike its players

EIN
Mylan World TeamTennis will place microphones on players during its three-week season, which was set to begin Sunday night. The league becomes the first circuit in tennis to do so, following the lead of larger sports like the NBA and NFL.

Mark Ein, chairman and majority owner of WTT, said he got the idea after seeing LeBron James miked up during an NBA playoff game.

“Sometimes you lose the athleticism and exertion in a normal tennis angle and sound package,” he said. “This is a trend across a lot of sports, trying to get fans closer to the action.”

In fact, WTT will use the same technology as the NBA, the Quantum5X QT-5100 PlayerMic.

WTT is streamed on ESPN3 and has deals with a handful of regional sports channels. Two players will be miked, plus the coaches, and they will be heard live on the broadcasts.

WTT is often a trendsetter in tennis. The U.S. Open at the qualifying tournament this summer will use a serve clock and allow coaching from the stands. The WTT has long used a serve clock and allows coaching.

Ein, who is a board member of the U.S. Tennis Association, expects miking players to quickly catch on in the sport.

“I have a hunch we will see it at other events and tournaments,” he said.

The WTA Tour allows one coaching visit during a match, and those interactions are caught on microphone.

Players on the WTT teams are not obligated to wear the mikes, but Ein said many have agreed to, though he declined to name any.

The WTT season is a short three weeks, and is often an afterthought in the nearly yearlong tennis schedule. Ein, who bought the league from Billie Jean King earlier this year, hopes to rejuvenate team tennis with new innovations like miking players.


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