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predrag
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:08 AM
Five out of top-6 players have entered the tournament. Still...

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/247749

T.O. support wears thin for WTA
Aug 19, 2007
Damien Cox

One can only hope the women's tennis tour is paying attention.

The profile of the Rogers Cup has been badly damaged by a variety of factors, from pre-tournament withdrawals to curious in-match retirements to an overall absence of high-level tennis.

But nobody, at least outside of Tennis Canada, expected what happened yesterday. The audiences for the two semifinal matches, one in the early afternoon featuring the world's top player, Justine Henin, and one later in the evening, managed to fill slightly more than half the 13,000-seat capacity of the Rexall Centre.

It was a sobering turnout for the key matches of what is supposed to be one of the top dozen events on the women's tennis calendar. But tennis fans in Toronto are apparently responding to the product being offered by largely staying away. Sponsors could soon follow.

A "legends" night last Monday featuring John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova drew very disappointing numbers. Even today's enormously appealing final between Henin and talented Jelena Jankovic of Serbia isn't yet sold out, with about 2,000 tickets still available.

It would appear that years of being treated in rather cavalier fashion by the stars of the women's game has finally caught up to the Toronto tour stop, which hosts the females every other year. Consistently, top WTA players have either failed to show up in Toronto for the tournament or pulled out at the last moment, which again happened this year when Amelie Mauresmo, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova all declined to take part and left the draw short on glamour and depth.

Yesterday, Henin easily rolled over little-known qualifier Yan Zi of China in a dullish matinee before a crowd that was surprisingly thin on a gorgeous breezy afternoon. The evening turnout was slightly better for the see-saw contest between Jankovic and Tatiana Golovin of France, which turned out to be a very good, tense match.

Trailing 5-2 in the first set, Golovin stunned the more highly-regarded Jankovic by winning five straight games to jump ahead in the match.

Jankovic, whose biting groundstrokes overshadow her powder-puff serve, rallied to capture the final two sets, although both were hotly contested in what probably was the best match of the tournament outside of those with Canadian (Stephanie Dubois) content.

But the fact the rollercoaster Jankovic-Golovin clash didn't come until the last evening session of the tourney helped produce a negative atmosphere that apparently convinced thousands not to drive up to the York University campus and buy tickets while, at the same time, the men's event in Cincinnati was drawing large crowds.

Despite mostly blessed weather – remember those awful years tarnished by rain? – the product has been weak and filled with players dropping out to injuries or illness, all of which has been particularly noticeable coming on the heels of the dramatic men's event in Montreal. The overall attendance figures this week have been solid, but clearly most of those fans apparently chose to buy cheaper grounds passes rather than more expensive tickets to the main stadium.

This is clearly now an ailing tournament that has to hope the changes the WTA has planned for 2009 – more time off for top players, fewer events, discipline for withdrawals – will revive interest in Toronto.

It's not just this tourney, however. As the women's event starts to eye Asia, and specifically China, more aggressively, some North American markets, like San Diego, are dropping out entirely.

Today's Henin-Jankovic final has the potential to be a terrific conclusion to this competition. But even that won't hide worrisome trends in the business of women's tennis.

xan
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:13 AM
The Canadian open has lost out badly in capturing key players in recent years. Abolishing quality points hasn't helped them as it should.

They need to get their act together. Perhaps the ending of San Diego will help, by cutting out one of the California events.

Wayn77
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:28 AM
Don't know why everybody seems to be picking on Canada all of a sudden.
WTA events have been very poorly attended in the big arenas in The States and Europe all year. The attendances for the China Open last year even with local players in action was pathetic. Not just WTA: plenty of empty seats in Cinnanati this week to: Federer v Hewitt yesterday the place was half empty.

predrag
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:54 AM
Don't know why everybody seems to be picking on Canada all of a sudden.
WTA events have been very poorly attended in the big arenas in The States and Europe all year. The attendances for the China Open last year even with local players in action was pathetic. Not just WTA: plenty of empty seats in Cinnanati this week to: Federer v Hewitt yesterday the place was half empty.

Top 10 players will have to commit to only 10 premium
events from 2009 on, with 8 of them being mandatory,
or 9 for those who qualify for YEC. This could be the
last time non-mandatory Rogers Cup will see six out
of top-10 players, so it's bound to get even worse.

SvetaPleaseWin.
Aug 19th, 2007, 12:03 PM
Top 10 players will have to commit to only 10 premium
events from 2009 on, with 8 of them being mandatory,
or 9 for those who qualify for YEC. This could be the
last time non-mandatory Rogers Cup will see six out
of top-10 players, so it's bound to get even worse.

are these premium events going to be like the masters series-if they offer as much money and points as the masters series give then im sure the top players would turn up. $400,000 is a lot more than $189,000 im sure its worth the airfare to canada!
personally, i think the tour should communicate with the players and really find out why they tend to miss the same events every year-the length of the season isnt the reason why no one ever goes to canada or charleston or san diego. maybe the players just dont like the way the tourny is run-maybe larry scott should get to the root of the problem rather then just making them mandatory-which wont make a difference, players will just pull out and piss of the fans, again!

sammy01
Aug 19th, 2007, 12:23 PM
well you cant blame people for passing on going to watch as there isn't the star names in the draw the winds been aweful! though i agree with the post futher up i've watched a few of the mens matches from cincy and in the early rounds the stadium was empty and even with federer its still not full so the writer of this article is talking shit there!

schorsch
Aug 19th, 2007, 01:04 PM
its not only that. who the hell pays for a ticket just to get to see one singles semi and then sticks around for hours and hours just to pay for another ticket to watch the second ? thats ridiculous ! ! !

polishprodigy
Aug 19th, 2007, 01:15 PM
Well I was there from Sat-Wed, and I can tell you that the Pelletier-Shulaeva match was only 1/4 full :help: Some bad scheduling, as that match should not have been the second night match.

I went to the Anna Kournikova match, and I think that the tickets were sold, but most people left after watching an excellent but longer-than-expected duel between Pin and Safina, and then freezing through a pretty long match between Courier and McEnroe. So understandly, most people left during the second match as it was approaching midnight and it was freezing!

However, over all, I think Toronto's event sells enough tickets to continue but not enough people actually show up. Secondly, coming from a Torontonian who has gone to the Rogers Cup in Montreal, I can tell you that Toronto has a lot of work to do in terms of making it's event more exciting and interesting and as good as an atmosphere as Montreal's. The grounds need to be made more fan-friendly like they are in Montreal (where apparently security is still a priority as Toronto was the only one told to improve on that - hence the new stadium). I think if Toronto does this, then it can improve its ticket sales and attendance. But definitely the withdrawals play a factor, and the WTA needs to address that, which it has and we will see how big of an impact their new rules have on the women's game.

A Magicman
Aug 19th, 2007, 01:29 PM
Give it to the Arabs, where there's no tennis fans but some rich sheikhs that can get a lil horny by watching women in short skirts :rolleyes:

Money talks, right, WTA? No tradition, no nothing. Only money.

Pushkin
Aug 19th, 2007, 02:15 PM
It's not the "Canadian" Open it's Toronto...Last year in Montreal it was full for the girls even if there were many withdrawals... Toronto the tickets are way too costly for one and they don't realize they have the #1 and #3 player in the World in the final...Well maybe today it will be full... They are so dumb in Toronto they probable think Hingis is still a threat in woman tennis... It was 100% full for Federer-Hewitt yesterday watch correctly. The good thing is here in Montreal we have been waiting for years to have both the men and the women and with the ignorance of Toronto we might get it sooner rather than later. But still today they have world #1 vs. world #3...

goldenlox
Aug 19th, 2007, 02:31 PM
I think this is a mandatory tournament stating in 2009.
And today's final is the best final since Miami.
The RG and Wimbledon finals had pretenders. All 3 California tournaments were much worse.
This final has the true #1 and a very solid top 5 contender.

Wiggly
Aug 19th, 2007, 02:47 PM
Well, the big names aren't there, the wind is out of control.

I think it's going to be the only Tier I of the summer next year, so it should have a better field.

LudwigDvorak
Aug 19th, 2007, 03:03 PM
This roadmap thing is confusing to me. Is it primarily just eight mandatory tournaments? That'd be eight TI-esque tourneys + the slams...right?

Regardless, this has been such an esteemed and prestigious event in the past, I hope it picks up in the future.

Pushkin
Aug 19th, 2007, 03:54 PM
Top 5 Contender ??? Jankovic is #3 in the world and soon will be #2 and maybe #1. "big names"?????? The #1 #3 #4 #5 #6 player in the world are there. Only missing was Sharapova... The rest (serena-venus)they only play grand slams and well if you talk about Hingis.. she would have been beaten on the monday night so...Toronto is bad here we had 10 000+ for the final on the monday afternoon because of rain with Ivanovic winning... Today Jankovic will win and become #2 in the world.

Randy H
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:04 PM
The WTA is simply not marketing their players enough, this has long been a problem and it's only getting worse. They've relied too much on the same players for the past near 10 years and haven't done enough to bring attention to newer players. So when the players they rely on don't turn up, the tournaments are left scrambling to try and suddenly bring the leftovers to the forefront and it's too little too late really. For real tennis fans, we know the likes of Jankovic, Ivanovic, and many more, but to the average viewer, they may have heard of the name, but they aren't familiarized with them enough to often be bothered with paying to see them.

I do think the elimination of San Diego will be a help to Toronto, but another summer Olympics is coming up next time, and with the event squeezed in between that and the US Open, it's still going to be tough to avoid the withdrawals. Players just don't want to risk further injury if they have any kind of ailments so close to the US Open.

Wiggly
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:05 PM
Top 5 Contender ??? Jankovic is #3 in the world and soon will be #2 and maybe #1. "big names"?????? The #1 #3 #4 #5 #6 player in the world are there. Only missing was Sharapova... The rest (serena-venus)they only play grand slams and well if you talk about Hingis.. she would have been beaten on the monday night so...Toronto is bad here we had 10 000+ for the final on the monday afternoon because of rain with Ivanovic winning... Today Jankovic will win and become #2 in the world.

I know like 5/6 top 6 are here but people don't know them.
They only knows Sharapova, Williams and Hingis. :tape:

In Montreal, people come to see tennis but also because it's THE place to be.

canuckfan
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:19 PM
I know like 5/6 top 6 are here but people don't know them.
They only knows Sharapova, Williams and Hingis. :tape:

In Montreal, people come to see tennis but also because it's THE place to be.

I agree. Montreal beats attendance record every year. Quebec tv shows broadcast from the tournament site all week (like RDS' Sportcenter for exemple). A lot of local tv stars,pro hockey players and other athletes attend the tournament. It's really a happening every year.

It doesn't seem to be the case with Toronto. I'm guessing that a lot of tickets are sold to businesses and not fans, so few people shows up. The stadium is also far from the city center, contrary to Montréal where the stadium is really easy to get to.

Randy H
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:33 PM
I agree. Montreal beats attendance record every year. Quebec tv shows broadcast from the tournament site all week (like RDS' Sportcenter for exemple). A lot of local tv stars,pro hockey players and other athletes attend the tournament. It's really a happening every year.

It doesn't seem to be the case with Toronto. I'm guessing that a lot of tickets are sold to businesses and not fans, so few people shows up. The stadium is also far from the city center, contrary to Montréal where the stadium is really easy to get to.

Location is definitely an issue as well, particularly when it comes to the evening session. If you're relying on public transit to get around, it's a lot easier to get around Montreal time wise than it is Toronto. If you're staying downtown Toronto, it's still going to take over an hour to commute either way. If you're waiting until the end of the night session before heading home, a lot of people don't want to do that, so I think that hinders crowd attendance too. Montreal definitely does a better promotion job, with television coverage being a lot better. You put on RDS on in the evening, and tennis is usually the first headline news they cover. In Ontario, even with an international tennis event going on, you still have to wait like 30 minutes into the news before they go to any tennis stories. At least in Montreal you feel that the media actually cares about the fact that the event is going on, and I am sure the effort they put in rubs off in making an impact on fans too, making it feel like it's a special worthwhile event to attend.

polishprodigy
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:40 PM
Location is definitely an issue as well, particularly when it comes to the evening session. If you're relying on public transit to get around, it's a lot easier to get around Montreal time wise than it is Toronto. If you're staying downtown Toronto, it's still going to take over an hour to commute either way. If you're waiting until the end of the night session before heading home, a lot of people don't want to do that, so I think that hinders crowd attendance too. Montreal definitely does a better promotion job, with television coverage being a lot better. You put on RDS on in the evening, and tennis is usually the first headline news they cover. In Ontario, even with an international tennis event going on, you still have to wait like 30 minutes into the news before they go to any tennis stories. At least in Montreal you feel that the media actually cares about the fact that the event is going on, and I am sure the effort they put in rubs off in making an impact on fans too, making it feel like it's a special worthwhile event to attend.

I have to agree. Toronto, despite being Canada's largest city, has a transit system that is in a sorry state (for a variety of reasons, some of which are and are not the city's fault). The fact that the venue for the tournament is located in the far north west corner of the city does not help, as it takes a long time to get there. Also, the campus that it is on requires shuttle buses to transport people from parking lots! In Montreal, I have heard that people sell their parking spots on their lawns or what not or you go for paid parking, so I guess it ain't much better, but at least they have excellent subway and public transit access to the tournament site.

goldenlox
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:51 PM
If people don't want to see this final, which was a USO SF last year, and RG SF this year, it's not the players fault, or WTA's fault.

polishprodigy
Aug 19th, 2007, 04:53 PM
And I wonder if Toronto can ever replicate Montreal's atmosphere. You can't force people to love tennis. But perhaps more effort needs to be made by the Toronto media and organizers to get people aware of the event and the sport.

Also, Toronto is more corporate, they need to change that.

416_Man
Aug 19th, 2007, 05:01 PM
I think it's simply about the people. Tennis isn't looked at as highly in Toronto because it doesn't have the fighting or the intensity that a hockey game has. Plus, Toronto has MLB, NBA, NHL, pro soccer, and CFL. Montreal has half of that to compete with.

tobe
Aug 19th, 2007, 05:18 PM
it s not just big names that are missing..it s the boring matches and poor quality with no excitement! Last year I was at the qualies in toronto (men) and there where lots of great matches with nices rallies and variety! So i watched this years quarters Kuzi-Golovin (such a crap macth, i would want my money back for that) and Henin-Yan (not too bad but boring as the everyone knew Henin would kill her)!
It seems like the more money the ladies get the more they withdraw or play crap....Where are the good old JCap, Hingis, Davenport, Belgians, Williams times gone when you had at least a couple of good entertaining macthes in one tourney with drama and real CHARACTERS on the court....? (i m sentimental today :)

clonesheep
Aug 19th, 2007, 05:23 PM
its not only that. who the hell pays for a ticket just to get to see one singles semi and then sticks around for hours and hours just to pay for another ticket to watch the second ? thats ridiculous ! ! !

Completely agree. It's already a thin field and a thin schedule and the organizers still want to milk the cow twice a day. They have no one to blame for the low attendence but themselves.

And the tickets for the good seats are overpriced. It's not just for Toronto but most of WTA tour events. For example New Haven charges $50 for the better seats in the main stadium for first round match. It's $50 for day session and another $50 for night session for god's sake! And the tennis? It's typical No.30 player against No.80 qualifier because all top players in the poster don't show up! No wonder the stadium is always ghostly empty. If I have $100 for the day I would buy a cool Yankees ticket and still have changes for a hot dog and a beer.

goldenlox
Aug 19th, 2007, 06:28 PM
This final has added meaning because it could worth a lot of money to Jankovic.
They got a good final to end this tournament.

jonny84
Aug 19th, 2007, 06:47 PM
It still had top players so it wasnt that a bad a tournament.

I think it probably lacked the Williams sisters and Sharapova, because they are the big marketable names of the tour. Those who arent major tennis fans or pay a passing interest into tennis may not have heard of the likes of the Serbians or some of the Russians.

You could ask people from the street who do they think would win a tennis event, most people I'm sure would say Serena/Venus/Maria, regardless of their form or injury status. These are the most marketable girls in tennis, and if they are not there, they probably arent pulling in the fans.

goldenlox
Aug 19th, 2007, 08:17 PM
This tournament ends with one of the best matches all year.

predrag
Aug 19th, 2007, 09:20 PM
The WTA is simply not marketing their players enough, this has long been a problem and it's only getting worse. They've relied too much on the same players for the past near 10 years and haven't done enough to bring attention to newer players. So when the players they rely on don't turn up, the tournaments are left scrambling to try and suddenly bring the leftovers to the forefront and it's too little too late really.

Right. And we're talking about at least two groups of players
being unknown, those who are already in top-10 and are
obviously staying there. Another group living in complete
anonymity are up and coming teenagers, unlike in other
pro sports where rookies and new faces are the heart of
marketing machines.

It doesn't take a genius to predict that Maria/Serena/Venus
will enter a limited number of events and rules allow them to
do just that.

Morrissey
Aug 19th, 2007, 09:49 PM
No the WTA is losing fans in Toronto NOT Montreal. I think the problem is from what I have read the Toronto media HAS NOT been very kind of fair to the WTA players. I mean why should they come to Toronto with all the media bitching and complaining about them in the press.


The Toronto media writes crap every year and the WTA players just KEEP ON SKIPPING the EVENT. They are not interested in Toronto and I don't blame them. And as usual the best players this year SKIPPED IT AS USUAL.

416_Man
Aug 19th, 2007, 10:48 PM
And as usual the best players this year SKIPPED IT AS USUAL.

Incorrect. The best players played it. It was the media darlings who skipped it.

Jem
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:18 PM
I'm not sure what the problem is entirely, but there is a huge problem. I've loved women's tennis for 30+ years. I followed it closely, supported and generally found it the most entertaining sporting event of all. I consider myself a huge fan. But lately, I'm simply losing interest. The women stars of today have jaded me on the game. The constant withdrawals, defaults,the occasional play, the lack of any real rivalries, the inability to stay physically fit, all coupled with too much mediocre play, has just worn me out with the game.

It's ironic. Today, the tour seems to have everything I always hoped for: more opportunities, a wonderful international flavor, more parity. And sad to say, nobody seems to care.

Unlike some, I don't fault the WTA leadership. Like it or not, Larry Scott has done wonders for the WTA -- getting sponsorships and creating sound financial footing. These were all things players were clammoring for before he arrived.

Maybe instead of an expanded calendar, tennis truly should slim down. It goes against the grain of everything I've always wanted for the sport, but the stars -- and today's there's more than ever -- simply can't seem to support the numer of opportunities. A lot of people seem to think that less really will be more, but from the perspecitve of having been there when there was less, I'm not so sure.

goldenlox
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:36 PM
The players get injured because they train so hard. It won't change with a shorter offseason.
Most of them are trying to outwork the others. They push themselves until they get injured.

Today's final was worthy of a Tier I.

The Daviator
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:38 PM
The stadium was packed today, which was great to see, I don't know how it's been all week, but plenty of people turned out today and they got a great final, so at least the event ended on a high note :yeah:

moon
Aug 19th, 2007, 11:40 PM
No the WTA is losing fans in Toronto NOT Montreal. I think the problem is from what I have read the Toronto media HAS NOT been very kind of fair to the WTA players. I mean why should they come to Toronto with all the media bitching and complaining about them in the press.


The Toronto media writes crap every year and the WTA players just KEEP ON SKIPPING the EVENT. They are not interested in Toronto and I don't blame them. And as usual the best players this year SKIPPED IT AS USUAL.

seems like a bunch of players have been skipping this tourney for a couple of years now. there may be something to your reasoning.

abayen
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:23 AM
I think marketing players outside of Sharapovas and Williams is part of the solution (along with some of the other changes that have been suggested)... But marketing means money. Maybe people who have more clue about WTA finances can enlighten us if WTA can afford heavy media exposure for its non-star, upcoming players (the stars get a lot of free coverage in any case, so they probably don't need a lot of dollars spent on them)

And for those who say other sports draw the crowd, I think women's tennis has a latent demand out there. There are enough people who want to see this for whatever reasons. I don't think even they are seeing it because of incompetent handling of business.

polishprodigy
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:56 AM
I agree with the media being hard on players.

You should have read some of the articles in Canadian newspapers about the Canadian wins! They went along the lines of this: "Next up for Dubois is Petrova. Dubois will have to step up her game as she won't be playing against a player who isn't putting a ball in the court or has to retire with an injury". OUCH!

maxomax
Aug 20th, 2007, 01:21 AM
Location is definitely an issue as well, particularly when it comes to the evening session. If you're relying on public transit to get around, it's a lot easier to get around Montreal time wise than it is Toronto.

I can confirm that public transit in Toronto to go to York University is :rolleyes: In Montreal, you take the subway and you arrive!

polishprodigy
Aug 20th, 2007, 01:34 AM
But a subway will be built to the tournament site by March 2009...but still.

416_Man
Aug 20th, 2007, 02:18 AM
York University isn't Toronto's main university. In fact, it's borderline Vaughn, not Toronto. If it was at the University of Toronto, then it would be VERY accessible.

Montreal's tickets are very expensive and level 100 seating is off limits unless you own a private box. Level 100 seating in Toronto is accessible to anyone. And the other show court? Toronto's grandstand is intimate and allows you to sit anywhere no matter the ticket. Court BN in Montreal is massive. And unless you bought a good ticket, (yes you must BUY tickets to watch here unless you don't mind level 300 quality seating) you're in the nosebleeds.

How is that fan friendly?

AJZ.
Aug 20th, 2007, 03:55 AM
Apparently there was a crowd for doubles too.

I think Montreal is fan-friendly. It's an intimate site, two big courts, tickets are cheap. I paid 100$ for my whole week, BN tickets. :)
And so many practice courts.

alexia1huff
Aug 20th, 2007, 08:40 AM
i just think that people don't want to go between states and canada if they can take 2 weeks off. If they would pay my flight ticket i would definitely come to watch it all!!!

polishprodigy
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:11 PM
Recent article about the Rogers Cup in the Toronto media:

At long last, something to cheer about
Women's Final Some Consolation For Sagging Event
Bruce ArthurNational Post
Monday, August 20, 2007

TORONTO -It took a week -- a week full of wind and withdrawals and who-are-yous -- for the Rogers Cup to transcend itself, and even that last rare burst of brilliance very nearly veered off the edge. We had endured a week of oatmeal tennis, waiting patiently for this sagging event to find a measure of redemption.
Yesterday, it did.
It nearly found the ditch, though. The very worthy champion, No. 1 seed Justine Henin, spent Saturday night getting her sore right shoulder treated, while seriously contemplating withdrawal from the tournament. Panicked tournament officials convened an emergency late-night meeting, and produced a desperate backup plan -- No. 6 seed Nadia Petrova was still in Toronto, having planned a trip to Niagara Falls. Had Henin withdrawn, finalist Jelena Jankovic would have won by default, and played Petrova, kept under glass in case of emergency, in an exhibition.
"I've gone through three pairs of underwear today," joked one tournament official.
But Henin played with her trademark grit and courage, and the result was the one match of the week that was worth your money and your time. The level of tennis in the Belgian's 7-6 (3), 7-5 victory was Valhallan at times, full of epic exchanges with a spectacular show of forehands and drop shots, of nervy topspin lobs and backhands that took your breath away.
Henin's coach, Carlos Rodriguez, apparently told a French reporter that it was the highest level of tennis in a Henin match this year. Henin agreed.
"At the end, yes, definitely," she said in French. "I was really pushed."
The jewel of it was the endless game at 5-5 in the second set, with its nine deuces and six break points for Jankovic. It was theatre on a high wire, tense and thrilling. Henin, who finally prevailed before breaking Jankovic to win the title, called it "one of the toughest games I've ever had," adding that "I think it [lasted] 80 minutes or something."
The week has similarly lasted forever for some spectators, though for the ones who skipped out, it must have just flown by. The final attendance number was 137,085, a desultory increase of 296 fans over 2005, when the women were last here. But that tournament was beset not just by high-profile player withdrawals -- a song this sport, and specifically this tournament, has been singing for years -- but by rain, whereas this week featured near-perfect weather.
The one unpleasant night was Friday, when chilly winds swept through the stadium. But that's no excuse for the place being half-full for the the entertaining quarter-final match between Henin and Petrova. What, the people of Toronto don't own a warm coat or two?
That was just one symptom of a sport that feels worn around the edges. The relentless schedule, the prima-donna withdrawals -- both before the tournament, and during matches -- and the injuries, legitimate and not, are all starting to frustrate fans of women's tennis. Not only were the stands half-full on Friday night, but they were half-empty for the first semi-final Saturday, and perhaps three-quarters full for the evening semi-final. In this town, and this event, that used to be unthinkable.
And yesterday, for a final between the top two seeds, there were a number of empty seats in the stadium. Seated capacity is 10,500; reported attendance was 10,251. But that's tickets sold, not seats occupied, and it is a worrisome thing when fans, or corporate sponsors, eat their tickets rather than show up. Despite tournament director Karl Hale's upbeat pronouncements, even he admitted that it is a concern.
"I mean, obviously we don't want to see that," said Hale. "I mean, it is an issue."
The WTA's plan to fix this is supposed to happen with the Roadmap to 2009 plan, and Hale says that the Canadian tournament has been assured it will remain a premier event. Until then, we wait.
And maybe we work on ourselves. It was a shame that yesterday's scintillating match did not get the respect it deserved from an unusually boorish crowd. On one point, some fool yelled "Out!" on a ball at Jankovic's feet, and she threw her arms up and complained to the umpire after losing the point. There was also an outbreak of stupidity when a moron or two screamed "One more!" after a first serve was sent long, or into the net, and repeated pleas for quiet.
"I think that's not nice and that's not fair," said the usually ebullient Jankovic.
"Generally, almost all the crowd was correct, but just a few of them don't understand a lot of things," said Henin, with a small smile.
Still, Toronto, you're supposed to be better than that. Luckily, Henin and Jankovic were. They were better than the whole week, than their whole sport. They rose above the mess.
"I couldn't ask for a better match," said Jankovic.
Neither could we.
barthur@nationalpost.com


http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/columnists/story.html?id=a0f48c77-f78f-458a-9bf4-6df023e87bf2

predrag
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:46 PM
http://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/247885

Cup boss has hopes set high
Stronger field expected when women return to Toronto for '09 tourney
Aug 20, 2007
Morgan Campbell

Despite half-empty stadiums, early retirements and a lineup that lacked several of the game's top stars, Rogers Cup tournament director Karl Hale is happy with this year's event and remains optimistic about its long-term future.

"Obviously we don't want to see (sparse crowds)," Hale said. "That's why we're working toward growing the tournament with the tour."

Hale said WTA officials have told him that when the women return to Toronto in two years, the tour will have fewer Tier 1 events, which, theoretically, will keep players healthier and eliminate the need to skip events.

During yesterday's news conference, Hale pointed out several times that the Rogers Cup is the largest non-Grand Slam tournament on the WTA tour, and estimates ticket sales for the eight-day tournament totalled about 137,000. The next-largest tournament is the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., with roughly 91,000 tickets sold.

Still the Rogers Cup's proximity to the U.S. Open means top competitors often skip it so they can rest before heading into the season's final Grand Slam, which begins Aug. 27.

Hale said the WTA instituted rules this year to discourage players from skipping tournaments, but neither they nor Rogers Cup organizers could legislate luck.

Though yesterday's final matched the world's top-ranked player, Justine Henin, against the No.3 player, Jelena Jankovic, several other top 10 stars – Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova – pulled out citing various injuries.

The same injury that kept Serena Williams out of this year's Rogers Cup will also sideline her for the Pilot Pen Open next week in New Haven, Conn. France's Amelie Mauresmo missed the Rogers Cup, but will skip the U.S. Open, too.

He said some players who played in Toronto did so despite catching a virus that circulated among players at a recent tournament in San Diego.

"All of the player pullouts are legitimate, so we have no issue with them," he said. "Injuries are just a part of the sport. There's nothing you can do about them."

Hale couldn't say for sure whether the absence of a few big-name players hurt attendance, but it didn't help. Stadium court was 90 per cent sold out for yesterday's final, but several thousand seats sat empty for Saturday's semifinals.

Next year, when the men's tour returns to the Rogers Cup, the tournament will take place in late July, coinciding with the PGA's Canadian Open. But Hale thinks the timing – two weeks after Wimbledon – might also ensure top players are rested and ready to play in Toronto.

Leopold Stotch
Aug 20th, 2007, 02:21 PM
Final looked quite well attended (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=513341) dunno what they're on about.

416_Man
Aug 20th, 2007, 02:31 PM
Apparently there was a crowd for doubles too.

I think Montreal is fan-friendly. It's an intimate site, two big courts, tickets are cheap. I paid 100$ for my whole week, BN tickets. :)
And so many practice courts.

With your Court BN tickets can you get on Court Centrale?

In Toronto I can go anywhere. Even with a grounds pass I get access to Level 300 on Center Court. And with that same grounds pass I can go front row on Grandstand.

I would think Toronto is more fan friendly in that regard.

tennisIlove09
Aug 20th, 2007, 03:03 PM
This is because this happens year after year after year. Since 2002, the Canadian Open has been short ended with withdraws (mostly). We've had some pathetic finals as a result. I think two years in a row we had a final like 60 61. Like, it's just not something that should happen at a Tier 1 event.

The problem has been the placement of the Canadian Open on the WTA schedule. By the time the Canadian gets here, players have already played in Cincy, Stanford, San Diego and LA. That's four weeks of hard court tennis (which is the roughest surface on a body). So players may want to 1 - rest 2 - get healthy 3 - want a break before the US Open.

If they could have possibly have put the Candian a week or two earlier, it would have helped. I am not surprised that the fans did not turn out. Why would fans continue to buy into an event where time and time again the top players have withdrawn, and they have a lackluster weekend?

predrag
Aug 20th, 2007, 03:24 PM
The problem has been the placement of the Canadian Open on the WTA schedule. By the time the Canadian gets here, players have already played in Cincy, Stanford, San Diego and LA. That's four weeks of hard court tennis (which is the roughest surface on a body). So players may want to 1 - rest 2 - get healthy 3 - want a break before the US Open.

Next year Montreal is on the schedule right before the Olympics.
But from 2009 Toronto will be held two weeks prior to US open,
with Cincinnati taking the place of current Rogers Cup. That should
help.

AJZ.
Aug 20th, 2007, 03:34 PM
With your Court BN tickets can you get on Court Centrale?

In Toronto I can go anywhere. Even with a grounds pass I get access to Level 300 on Center Court. And with that same grounds pass I can go front row on Grandstand.

I would think Toronto is more fan friendly in that regard.

No, I couldn't, but I didn't mind it.
I guess your argument makes sense.

But I still love our tournament. It's well organized, the practice courts are all near to BN & Center, and the food's not that expensive.

But then again I have nothing to compare it to.