Tennis Channel. TENNIS Magazine. Tennis Industry. TENNIS.com. It doesn’t take a racquet scientist to see that, while each of these media outlets occupies a different space, they are all doing the same thing: promoting the sport of tennis.
And so it only makes sense that, as of last month, these broadcast, print and digital voices of the game converged under one umbrella. They joined forces in order to tell more compelling stories, better inform you about what’s important in the sport, and report on the players and places that matter—including those players and places that don’t have a voice. You have probably noticed various elements of the Tennis Channel appearing on TENNIS.com, and vice versa. Think of these early collaborations as formations that a newly formed doubles team practices. Some will work, others will need tinkering. But we know one thing for sure: we’ve found the perfect partner.
I’ve been an editor of TENNIS.com in some capacity since 2008. Before that—to borrow a phrase from the late, great Troy McClure—you might remember me from such tennis blogs as “Peter Bodo’s TennisWorld” and “Gasquet & Racquet.” As I was writing for these blogs and trying desperately to find my way into tennis journalism, the arrival of Tennis Channel on my cable provider was a seminal moment. It let me watch the game on red clay before Roland Garros each spring, and gave me my first extended look at the indoor circuit each fall—sights I had never seen in this pre-streaming, pre-YouTube era. But the niche network went beyond just matches. It did so in ways that have evolved over time—you don’t see daily doses of racquetball and squash on Tennis Channel any longer, but you continue to see tennis explored from new and exciting perspectives. That’s where Andre Agassi comes in.
Growing up, I had never been much of an Agassi fan; I was more of a Pete Sampras guy. I liked Pistol Pete’s no-nonsense comportment, his unbreakable serve, his annual excellence at Wimbledon. Agassi was erratic, his signature shot was a return and, at least on the surface, he seemed like everything that I wasn’t. At least that’s what I thought before I watched a Tennis Channel documentary about him, Agassi: Between the Lines. It told Agassi’s story in a way no other network, movie or program had done before, with rich footage, intimate interviews and artful production. It gave Agassi the respect he deserved, which in turn allowed me to give him the respect he deserved. But above all, the network gave tennis the respect it deserved. Tennis Channel was still a small voice in a loud, crowded arena of sports media, but, like TENNIS.com, it was a voice that would not go away.