So here we are again, the beginning of the USO Series. The time of the year when fans of tennis in North America and elsewhere suffer at the hands of tournament directors and television networks by being deprived of watching live tennis on the internet, or indeed on the expensive cable channels for which they pay. All for the privilege of not getting any tennis on tv.
This is especially so for the women.
This week we have a number of tournaments being played. For the men we have Gstaad and Umag, both on clay and Los Angeles on hard courts. For the women we have Stanford and Istanbul. Both tournaments are being played on hard courts.
Stanford has a bigger and stronger field than Istanbul. The field in Stanford includes Stosur, Dementieva, Sharapova, Ivanovic, Radwanska, Peer and many other notables in the field of women's tennis. In Istanbul we have Larsson, Schynder, Kvitova, Petkovic and a whole host of other players ranked outside the top 20. The difference between both fields is not in the fact that there big name players at one event and not so much big names in Istanbul. It is the coverage.
From the first ball was struck in Istanbul, fans of women's tennis could actually get to watch ball by ball play. There was also excellent commentary from the first ball was struck until close of play. We even got to see doubles. Doubles at what is really a Tier IV event.
Stanford on the other hand. Not even radio tennis. Not even radio coverage. This is the beginning of the Olympus USO Series and not even as much as radio tennis coverage you can get. Why you ask? Well, bloggers who are on the ground have informed us that there is actually live streaming of the event, but it would seem as if the organisers have decided that fans who live in Timbuktu, or even closer Russia, or even Serbia or Poland and who are fans of the players who are playing in Stanford may not actually want to see their players play.
What the organisers have done is provide a live stream of the event to the media personnel who are currently on the ground providing coverage. Apart from Forty Deuce and Global Village Tennis News, I have not read any news accounts about what is happening in Stanford. Chris Oddo from On the Baseline has provided some blogging but they have been centered around individual players.
Forty Deuce and Global Village have been doing a terrific job in providing live match scoring commentary via twitter. Is this the level to which the WTA has allowed women's tennis to wallow. Fans should check out twitter or look at the scoreboard to see who is winning and who is losing.
For years Stanford had a live stream that was 300 feet from the court, had no commentary and barely any sound but fans appreciated it every year until we got tv coverage. This year nothing. Stanford is a well attended event as Californians love their tennis. There is no reason why the event should not be livestreamed until it is available on television. As it is by the time Friday rolls around, we would be lucky if most of the marquee names have not already been sent home and all we are left with would be a list of players similar to those playing in Istanbul. That might not be a bad thing.