Exposure of doubles matches in tennis is a real problem and one Anna Smith wants sorted out sooner rather than later.
Regularly, high quality action in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles is put on the outside courts at events with little or nobody around to watch the matches and it is very rarely screened on television.
Only the Grand Slams and end of season events offer doubles specialists a real chance to show their credentials to the world stage.
And Croydon’s Smith, who forms Britain’s prominent women’s doubles team with Jocelyn Rae, feels that more must be done to broadcast the action on television and in print to help publicise achievements on the doubles circuit.
“It is tough because people want to see the top players playing and they don’t necessarily play week in week out apart from the Grand Slams, so the media need to help out and talk about the achievements,” she said.
“They don’t really show it on television apart from the end of season event at the O2, so maybe if they showed it a bit more on television it would help. Club players only play doubles so they would appreciate watching it.”
Britain has been enjoying a resurgence in doubles of late. At the Australian Open, Jamie Murray won the men’s doubles and reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles, and Dom Inglot made the third round of the men’s doubles.
Smith and Rae meanwhile made the third round of the women’s doubles for the first time in their career, while Murray also helped Great Britain win the Davis Cup last year.
“It is hard, when you don’t get any media coverage people don’t know what is happening,” added Smith, ranked 67th in the world for doubles.
“At the tournaments doubles very rarely gets played on the big show courts, it always gets pushed to one of the outside courts.
“At women’s doubles events the crowds aren’t big – you have about 1,500 people watching, which is nothing in comparison to what Centre Court holds.
“Apart from Jamie I don’t think any of the doubles players get any exposure.
“A lot of our doubles players, like Dominic Inglot who is top 30, never have something written about them.
“Jamie is helping to push doubles and obviously it was such a huge thing the doubles in the Davis Cup for Great Britain.
“We probably won most of the ties on the doubles.”
It’s not just doubles where British women are starting to star, but in the singles event as well.
Naomi Broady broke into the top 100 for the first time in her career this month to join Australian Open semi-finalist Johanna Konta and Heather Watson, continuing the positivity that surrounds British tennis.
“It can only be a good thing, we have higher expectations because before there has been controversy in wildcards being handed out,” added Smith.
“People forget that tennis is 52 weeks of the year, we have probably two weeks off in the year and there’s not just Wimbledon.
“The fact that everyone has been doing well is pushing us on and the reason we do now have higher expectations is because we have been doing better.
“I relish the pressure, I love playing at Wimbledon and I have high expectations of myself – I don’t want to be beaten in the first round, I want to get to the second week and win matches.”
Smith is especially pleased for Broady, who was someone she grew up playing with.
“I always thought she could be good, she has some massive weapons, huge serve and a big game but sometimes in tennis as much as you can work hard you sometimes don’t get that luck,” she said.
“It can just take one tournament where it clicks and the confidence builds.
“I think for Naomi she was around 200 for quite a long time and then something clicks which allows you to get on a role.
“I saw her in Auckland at the start of the year where she qualified and beat Ana Ivanovic and you can just see what confidence does.
“I think it is the same with Jo, both of them have always worked hard but it is just having that belief in yourself and maybe it’s the mind-set that has changed.”
Smith and Rae’s good form did not continue into the Abierto Mexicana TELCEL event in Acapulco, Mexico, this week where they lost 6-0 7-6 to Anastasia Rodionova and Galina Voskoboeva.
They play another tournament in Monterrey, Mexico, beginning on Monday in a bid to boost their ranking and qualify for this summer’s Olympics.
Anna Smith is managed by Global Sporting Connections, www.globalsportingconnections.com.
Feature image courtesy of the LTA, with thanks