Upon the conclusion of the ATP Finals, it seemed the focus of the sporting world might have switched to sports other than tennis. Considering the rugby World Cup recently occurred, along with the ongoing UK Championship in Snooker, this suggestion seemed to be re-emphasised. Yet, tennis may still be worthy of the focus, as whilst the season may have concluded for current professionals, former players recently contested at the Royal Albert Hall. Whilst this naturally enabled them to add to their already expansive trophy cabinets and prove the reasoning behind why they may have warranted an invitation to the event, their involvement ultimately seemed to underpin the overarching desire to entertain the crowd. With a multitude of fans invited onto the court itself to play, and with these players often joking with one another, it seems this goal may have been achieved, with this perhaps the driving reason behind the event claiming the forefront of focus ahead of perhaps more significant competitions.
Champions Tennis is the concluding event of the season for former players, and its position in the calendar may be a notable contributor in its prioritisation by competitors. This may be because it enables them to solely focus on their fixtures in London, as with an ample rest period occurring afterwards, they may be able to ply their trade at their peak capabilities. Players such as Pat Rafter seem to reiterate this, with the Australian stating in interviews this is the event he solely involves himself in, and as such geographical boundaries seem to be bypassed. Whilst naturally an appealing aspect may be the opportunity to reinvigorate former rivalries, it seems the fans may also reap the dividends of this, as they may witness these proficient players at the pinnacle once more.
With the qualification requirements solely enabling the most established and recognised former players to compete, with either status as former world number one or Grand Slam finalist mandatory, it seemed the strength in depth might have been cemented. The pre-tournament favourite may have been Pat Rafter, most notably due to his vast achievements across two decades. Yet, due to his personal challenging circumstances, other players seemed to be provided with an opportunity to thrive and showcase their capabilities, and thus Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero claimed the trophy. As such, he may naturally claim the plaudits, specifically due to his ability to continue to boast both the required fitness and tennis capabilities to attain victories.
The event’s top priority, whilst naturally also focusing on the competitive nature of the sport, may be on the comedic value, with the organisers perhaps aiming to appeal to the masses by focussing on different attraction points. Thus, the tournament seems easily accessible for all, and in showcasing the capabilities of former champions, a fresh influx of young players may be motivated to aim to replicate, and ultimately surpass, their accomplishments. Considering a multitude of opportunities for ball-people, and members of the crowd, were available to play their part in ties, with debatable points also referred to the audience, the benefits of becoming a tennis player may be highlighted. With the current crop of players perhaps also aiming to continue to play at their peak capabilities to ultimately be eligible for the Royal Albert in the future, the beneficial outcomes may be noteworthy.
While appealing to the masses, and continuing to attain support levels from all may be a poignant focal point, the event’s crowning glory may be its ability to showcase viable pathways back into tennis for former players. As such, both the fans and the athletes seem equally impacted, and this unity may have been successfully utilised by organisers in their bid to promote charitable causes. With a large part of the event focusing on Movember, with an array of players sporting moustaches, it seems Champions Tennis might have a larger impact than originally anticipated. When coupled with enabling competitors to remain fit and healthy, and thus potentially alleviating pressure on the NHS, it may have a snowball effect on other areas, with the public continuing to be inspired.