Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley says he’s open to all suggestions after Davis Cup star John Millman urged TA to back his proposal for a domestic teams’ event if the country emerges from the coronavirus shutdown before the rest of the world.
With Australia slowing the spread of COVID-19 better than most other nations, Millman believes there could be an opportunity to start a State of Origin-style event before the ATP and WTA Tours resume.
The 2018 US Open quarter-finalist posted his idea on social media before telling AAP he and Davis Cup teammate James Duckworth were likely to pitch something more formal to TA in coming days.
“If Australia recovers before ATP tour is ready to kick off again I think we have a unique opportunity in our sport to create domestic interest in tennis again,” Millman tweeted on Wednesday.
Instead of having your run-of-the-mill money tournaments, imagine something completely different. How about an interstate teams competition?
“Teams would be mixed and comprised of: two Legend players (one male and one female), six current players (three males and three females), and two junior players (one male and one female).
“Singles, Doubles and Mixed doubles would be played. Perhaps a different type of scoring system.
“Players get contracts (guaranteed money) that will help some, getting them financially get back on tour and the public get a different format of team tennis watching the past, present and future players competing.”
Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt was among the several hundred people to quickly like Millman’s concept, but the Queenslander was cautious about getting his hopes up.
“They (TA) don’t take me seriously, unfortunately,” Millman told AAP.
“Who knows? It will probably take a little bit of money and sometimes we can be a little tight with our funds, I would say, on the performance side.
“But that’s alright. I think it’s something that’s probably a little bit different.
“People are screaming out for something a little bit different and everyone wants a bit of sport.”
Several of Millman’s peers, including Aussie No.1 Alex de Minaur, John Peers, Alex Bolt, Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs support the concept, and Tiley said he does take the idea seriously.
“We have a team currently exploring multiple options for play under a variety of scenarios and we are heartened by the enthusiasm and interest from the players, coaches, our staff and tennis fans,” Tiley said.
“John and all of the other players are very keen to get back on court and play again – once it is safe to do so.
“When the time is right we want to actively encourage that as well as provide the opportunity, and we know there’s an appetite for tennis from the sports-loving public.
“What form any competition looks like will largely be shaped by the restrictions in place from area to area – and rightly so as the health and safety of everyone in the community remains our top priority.
“The last thing we in tennis want is to cause any spike in infections.”