An innovative new tennis tournament is the answer to Rafael Nadal's pleads for Australian Open tournament directors to focus on players' health, says Sunday Shootout creator Jason Helms.
Sunday Shootout is a unisex, one set tennis competition that has 16 single players compete over a three-hour period.
Into its fourth month, the tournament has seen world-ranked players enter, as well as rising junior players and ex-pros. This Sunday Valentina Ivnov, whose ranking is 96 ITF 18/u in the world, has entered.
Nadal who was forced to retire last night from a grand-slam match due to injury called for the players' health to be better protected. The world number one ranked player says injuries are jeopardising many tennis stars' futures.
Sunday Shootout creator and ex-touring pro Jason Helms' goal was to create the effect on tennis that T20 has had on cricket. T20 is a shortened version of Test cricket and has transformed cricket, with audiences loving the shorter format and players able to earn more in less time.
Jason says it is hugely possible that they could hold an equivalent of a slam in New Zealand using this model.
“The Sunday Shootout model could be amplified and run over a few days with more players, yet to win it they would only need to play five sets in total.
He says tennis is one of the most explosive and gruelling sports an athlete can put their body through and Sunday Shootout is kinder on players' bodies, but also demands they play their A-game as soon as they get on court.
“When we started the Shootout, we honestly didn't expect it to be so popular, but players are loving the format and spectators are delighted to watch top women players hitting up against top male players – something you never ever see in regular single's tennis tournaments.”
Jason was coached by Bobbi Riggs, who famously played against Billie Jean King. He also played college tennis in the US in the 1990s under the coaching of Guy Fritz (father and coach of Taylor Fitz who played in the men's third round of last year's US Open), gaining back to back state championship wins.
He had the opportunity to train with the Davis Cup teams of the United States, Canada and South Africa and gaining a wild card to play in the Indian Wells ATP tournament. Jason also had the chance to play a match against Rod Laver.
The Sunday Shootout is on this Sunday at Mount Maunganui Tennis Courts from 3pm.
For more information www.sundayshootout.co.nz.