YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

TENNIS / JERRY CROWE : TV Says Jump: They Ask, 'What Day?'

November 06, 1994|JERRY CROWE

The great god television has reared its head again, persuading promoters of the Newsweek Champions Cup at Indian Wells to move their final next March from the more traditional Sunday to late Monday afternoon so that it can be televised, delayed, during prime time in the East.

Originally scheduled for March 12, the final of the ATP Tour's first Super Nine event of 1995 now is set to start at 4 p.m. on March 13, with television coverage starting two hours later.

ESPN, which will televise the event, requested the switch to avoid conflicts with its coverage of college basketball conference tournaments.

The quarterfinals of the tournament have been moved from Friday to Saturday, the semifinals from Saturday to Sunday. The tournament will have a traditional Monday starting date on March 6.

One semifinal will be shown by ESPN, delayed, at 9 p.m. EST on March 12.

ESPN told tournament organizers that, because of a glut of college basketball games on the final weekend of the regular season, it could not fit tennis into its Saturday schedule.

"They said, 'Look, we can put you on in prime time on Monday night,' " said tournament director Charlie Pasarell. "And so the tour and ESPN and us, we felt, 'That's an interesting twist.'

"All of us felt that this was almost a blessing in disguise. It's an opportunity for us to get on Monday night prime time. That's a very good time allotment. So we said, 'Let's do it. Let's see how it goes.' We look at it from the perspective of, what started as a problem ended up being a new opportunity for us."

The Indian Wells final is the only one of the year that will be played on a Monday. The scheduling was possible because the U.S. event that follows it on the tour calendar, the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., does not start until Friday, March 17.

But Kevin O'Keefe, the ATP Tour's director of communications for the Americas, does not necessarily see it as a one-time shot.

"I would like to see us be creative in everything we do, so I think it's safe to say we'll be looking at (Monday finals) for other events," he said. "We'd like to see what the reaction to it is, not just from the folks on site but also the ESPN viewership.

"We're going to take a wait-and-see attitude here, but we think it's a great idea, having gone over all of the other possibilities of what we could have done with those extra couple of days. It gives us a prime-time vehicle, which we've never had before."

Also, with an extra day to complete the tournament, organizers will be able to present more matches on the stadium court during the early rounds. Night sessions will be held Monday-Saturday, with the quarterfinals split between afternoon and night sessions on Saturday.

Pasarell said that reaction to the change has mostly been positive but that he has received complaints from a few longtime season-ticket and box holders.

His response?

"No sporting league or sporting event, football included, can survive without television exposure, and television and sponsorship revenues," he said. "We're no different. We have to have television coverage. Without it, we just could not exist.

"And so, we have to present a good television package. Therefore, we made this adjustment."


Michael Chang, winner of the Salem Open in Beijing last month, has won seven tournaments and nearly 90% of his matches in Asia during the last two years.

After winning tournaments last year in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka and Jakarta, he won this year in Hong Kong, Beijing and Jakarta. He also reached the final of two tournaments in Tokyo.

"For me to win any event in Asia is very special," said Chang, who is of Chinese extraction. "There's a special place in my heart for Asia, just because the people there haven't been exposed to tennis as they have been here in the States or in Europe.

"I think tennis is really starting to catch on there, and for me it's very encouraging. It helps me to concentrate just that little bit extra to try to inspire those kids to go out and give tennis a try because there aren't a lot of courts out there.

"For me to do well over there, I think the people can relate to me better than they would a guy like Pete (Sampras), for example, just because I come from an Asian background.

"They look at me and see that I'm not any bigger than they are, I don't have anything special about me. I'm just a normal Asian person, and I think it's encouraging for them to see somebody of their own kind doing well in a sport that is dominated by players who are much bigger and stronger."


Sampras and Martina Navratilova are among "the 25 fittest people of the year," according to Fitness magazine.

Among those also making the list were Madonna, Demi Moore, Tina Turner, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Surprisingly, no golfers or baseball players were named.

Tennis Notes

The Hyatt Grand Champions in Indian Wells, host of the Evert Cup and the Newsweek Champions Cup Feb. 27-March 13, will conduct tryouts for ball kids 10 and older on Nov. 17, Dec. 15 and Jan. 19. Details: (619) 340-3166. . . . Said Pete Sampras, who grew a beard during a tournament in Stockholm: "My girlfriend wanted me to try it. She says it makes her happy. And when she's happy, I'm happy."

Los Angeles Times Articles