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August 29, 1994

Page Crosland

Brian Earley

Bumpy Frazer

Jay Snyder


BUMPY FRAZER: Ladies and gentlemen, we want to talk just a couple of minutes. I know you have been sitting a long time. We are going to talk to you just a couple of minutes about how and why we scheduled the U.S. Open the way we do. You may recall last year there was at least a bit of criticism as to how and why we scheduled the Open and so we think it is important that you at least know what our thinking is. We feel that one of the great appeals of a Grand Slam tournament is the fact that both men and women play and the fact that all the great players of the world play. And we believe that the best possible thing for our television audience and for all the spectators who come out and pay their money here is that we provide both men's singles and women's singles every single day we can possibly do it. That is what the schedule which Brian Earley is going to actually distribute to you will show you. Now, we are well aware that there is certainly comments around Super Saturday and the fact that the men play their semis on Saturday and their singles on Sunday. We truly feel that one of the missions of the USTA and one of the missions of this tournament is to make tennis popular in the United States. We feel that is the best thing we can do for the sport. And we believe that Super Saturday is the greatest single day in American tennis. It gets tremendous television audience that we couldn't possibly get, truthfully, if we played the men's singles on Friday. And the obvious reason is that many more people working on Friday than working on Saturday. So we strongly feel that we are doing it the right way, and Brian is going to take you through, very quickly, how we schedule so that we get men's and women's singles everyday of the draw except in the case of men's singles one day and the case of women's singles through the final. There is only one day that the women do not play. We are happy to take your questions right after this, because we -- you know, we appreciate you giving us a chance to tell you why we do it. Brian.

BRIAN EARLEY: Everybody who wants one of these can get one. Let me first of all explain that the first round over three days accomplishes many, many different things. One of the things that Bumpy mentioned was that it gives us one more day of men's singles in the tournament. Given the fact that we have a Saturday and Sunday semi and final scenario with the men, if you were to go top half/bottom half; top half/bottom; bottom half starting with the first day or bottom -- whatever halves of the draw each day throughout the tournament, there would be one day in the tournament -- I am sorry, two days in the tournament without men's singles, and those would more than likely be -- well, when we used to do it that way it was the second Tuesday and the second Friday. And you know, quite frankly, it isn't -- while the women's quarters were entertaining, it certainly makes a much more exciting program to have men's singles on that second Tuesday; one in the, day usually; one in the night, usually. Those of you who covered our tournament three years ago, that was the last year we did it. You will remember that there were many comments about the fact that there weren't any men's singles that day. Also, we have a great many stars in the first round of the men's singles, and to give those -- give the spectators a chance to see those stars, we would like to put them on the stadium or the grandstand if we can or even on 16. And if we don't, if we don't play the first round over three days, we are then trying to put all those players in a very small -- in a smaller area. We are adding, actually, three slots in each -- on each court; three in the stadium, three in the grandstand on each of those days. So again, it helps us -- it helps those players who really might not have had a chance to play in the stadium 'til later in the tournament. One of the things about fairness in the tournament is giving players who are likely to do well, giving them an opportunity to play in the courts that they are likely to play in later in the event. So this helps accomplish that. Also, if you remember a few years ago, we had -- well, basically, we like to accommodate those players who have done well at the previous Tour events leading up to the Open. Let us say a player does well at Commack, the Hamlet Cup or even Schenectady, and he has gotten to the final or won the tournament. In effect, if we played the first round over two days, we would have to penalize him by making him choose between playing Monday, Wednesday, if he were in that half of the draw or Tuesday, Wednesday, if he is in the Wednesday second round, after the draw, he would then be penalized. And so, not only does that help that player to play Tuesday, Thursday -- remember, the first, second round matches on Thursday, not only does that help him but it also hopefully makes those tournaments stronger. Hopefully it makes the player look at his schedule and say, look, if I do well in this tournament before the Open, I am not going to get hammered by having to play Tuesday, Wednesday. I am going to -- I can have my Tuesday start, have a day off, play my second round on Thursday, and I will be all right. So I will be day on, day off, day on, day off. There is, in this scenario, until the semis and the finals every match or -- I am sorry, every half is scheduled, day on, day off. At least a day's break between rounds. So those people who commented last year that it was difficult for Boris because he played his first round on Wednesday night and then had rain, while we understand that and we made certain accommodations to that, I have -- I stand by what I said last year. And that is, any time you have rain, if you had had rain at Wimbledon where they play the first round over two days, or that is their projection, based on good weather, any time at any Grand Slam when you have day on day off, and you have rain, then you play two days in a row. There was nothing scheduled into there that was unfair, patently unfair. What we have done this year is we have said as a group, as a tournament committee, that we are considering playing a second round match, men's match, singles match, on Wednesday evening, in the Wednesday evening program. That doesn't mean that it will happen. It just means that we have made some accommodations and are willing to attempt to do that. Again, we are not prepared to state today, Monday, that that is what we will do, but that we are aiming in that direction and there is a good possibility we will be doing that. So then -- then we don't have a first round playing that late in the event. And again, it is not completely unfair that somebody plays Wednesday night first round because then he has Thursday off. So it is one day on one day off, no matter how you slice it, based on first round over three days. We think this really maximizes the exposure that men's tennis gets, the exposure, in effect, that tennis gets, and we are happy the way it worked. Some accused us last year of it being a new idea. Well, last year was the second year that we did it. We did it two years ago also and it was -- we got nothing but compliments about it. As a matter of fact, some people didn't even know that we did it. So obviously, given good weather, it works very well. Given bad weather, nothing works well. So I am convinced, as is Bumpy and many others on the committee, that this is the best approach to take. It makes other things go well. It makes -- it helps us in the fact that doubles players, men's doubles players, in particular, who are playing men's singles who are playing best of five, it is very tough to play a best of five; come off-court; take an hour and a half to two hours rest; then have to go out and play a doubles match. We know that is all going to happen. That is the risk that you take when you enter two events. But we have a lot better chance of playing only at one event per day obviously later in the tournament. It is going to happen, but we have a much better chance of accommodating doubles players given the first round again over three days. We now started doubles on Tuesday; used to start it on Wednesday. No singles players in the doubles that day; we do the best that we can early in the tournament to avoid players playing twice in one day. So really there are many, many good reasons and --

PAGE CROSLAND: Let us find out if there are any specific questions about the schedule. You all understand it?

Q. I want to make sure that consistency, insofar as the Grand Slams are concerned -- I assume the other Grand Slams are concerned with the exposure and increasing interest in tennis, but do they also have the Super Saturday format?

BRIAN EARLEY: No, they don't.

BUMPY FRAZER: This is the case where they are all out of step except us.

Q. Don't the players, particularly the men's, the top players, feel that it would be in their best interest to have a break between such a big event?

BUMPY FRAZER: That -- I am sure that feeling exists and I have great respect for that feeling. As you know, I have great respect for professional tennis players. But I think that there are -- in any activity of life, there are a lot of different considerations, very frankly. I mean, tennis is a sport, like all sports, which seeks an audience. And we simply feel that we provide that great audience, you know, the star tennis players, very honestly, I am told, earn a great deal of money when the shirts that they wear, the other clothing and so on, appears on television and so, you know, that is a factor. Well, the fact is millions of more people are going to see those shirts on Super Saturday than would see them on Friday. As I say, I only raise that to show there are a lot of considerations. I am not trying to sell anybody on anything. But the fact is for the sport of tennis, for the benefit of our spectators who come here and pay the admission charge, for the benefit of millions of children around the world who watch it on television, they have a better opportunity to watch on Saturday and Sunday than any other days o the week.

Q. What kind of feedback have you gotten from the top women, given the fact that on Super Saturday their starting time for the women's final could range -- first match could run anywhere to hour and a half to four and a half, five hours?

BUMPY FRAZER: We are aware and we are certainly told that they would much prefer a fixed starting time and again, I respect that very much. The fact is we want to get the women's final on with as much exposure as possible. Since I at least have the strong belief that tennis is the most appealing when both men singles and women's singles appear on the same day, I personally believe that the women get a marvelous audience on Saturday because of that exact fact that both men and women are playing the same day. Now, in order to make this as comfortable as we can for everyone, we do say to the ladies, the women on Saturday, you will not start before one o'clock. In other words, they don't have to get here at 11:00 thinking, well, if one of the semis sprains an ankle or something I got to get on at 11:30. We tell them, it is on the program, it is everywhere, not before 1:00. Now, I certainly admit that is not quite as good as saying it's a positive time, but here again it is a matter of trying to consider everybody and trying to weigh all the factors and truly trying to do what is best for the sport of tennis. And that is what we are doing with this schedule.

Q. Any thought about moving the women's final the other way and moving -- playing both on Sunday? That would seem to be almost the best of all -- starting the women's first; any considerations as far as that goes?

BUMPY FRAZER: At least until this year, our host broadcaster, CBS, as I am sure you are well aware, did a football game at one o'clock and so couldn't bring us on until 4:00. Now, obviously this year CBS, if they wanted to, could have brought us earlier. That is a possible long-term solution, but here again, you know, we have -- we have to all remember we are competing with a lot of other sports and up until now; at least up until this year, we didn't have a loose broadcaster who said, okay, we will bag football today and you can play both the men's and the women's finals. Now, this year, you know, CBS doesn't have football. But again, you know, we have to look this past one year. I will say, frankly, that that is a consideration and some day it might happen. But I certainly don't want anybody to think that I am saying it is going to happen because I don't know. But I certainly would not rule out what you have just said. If we can get both on television, on a good time on a network.

Q. What time is the women's doubles final this year?

BUMPY FRAZER: Women's doubles final on Sunday begins at 12:30.

Q. You are aware that Gigi Fernandez who was just in here has complained before that she would like to see it bumped up closer to the men's finals so people coming into the stadium would have the opportunity to watch them?

BUMPY FRAZER: I am certainly aware of that and I want to say Gigi Fernandez, she has played Federation Cup for the United States many times; she has played on our United States Olympic Tennis Team and I like her -- I like her personally, but beyond that, I have great respect for her as a person and as an athlete. And she certainly has told me that personally too. The fact is our present host broadcaster CBS has told us on numerous occasions that they do not want to take the slightest chance that they can't get that men's final on when they are ready at four o'clock. Now, everybody can say, well, you know the women's doubles isn't going three and a half hours; it probably isn't. But anything is possible. Beyond that, because there is a change in crews-- we televise the women's doubles on USA; then there is a complete changeover of crews; they want the court cleared. They want everything done. This, after all, is what CBS is paying the U.S. Open a lot of money for and they want to be absolutely sure that everything is ready for them to go on-camera at four o'clock.

Q. Have you considered possibly putting it on the grandstand?

BUMPY FRAZER: Yes and I think if you were to ask Gigi, but I can't speak for her, but I think if you were to ask her, she would say they'd rather be in the stadium. If the women would like to go in the grandstand, we would -- I believe, Brian we would be glad to do that.

BRIAN EARLEY: There are sponsor considerations too in that too, of course.

BUMPY FRAZER: Sponsors wouldn't like that either, frankly. We have a women's singles sponsor- it is Elizabeth Arden this year; they of course want to be in the stadium. So it is all -- you guys know this. You are very intelligent. There are always a lot of factors to look at. There is no right or wrong, you know we are not Solomon or anything. We simply do our best, but we sincerely try to weigh all the factors and truly try to consider the players very, very much.

PAGE CROSLAND: Any other questions?

Q. The bottom line is that TV dictates this whole deal?

BUMPY FRAZER: That is not the bottom line. The bottom line is that what dictates the whole deal, as you wish to put it, is what is best for the sport of tennis. We believe that what we are doing is best for the sport of tennis.

Q. Scheduling them in so that it is on TV Saturday and Sunday?

PAGE CROSLAND: So that it reaches the largest audience.

BUMPY FRAZER: It is important nationally-- not many people would play tennis if there wasn't good TV exposure.

JAY SNYDER: This is America's Grand Slam. This is America that we are playing it in. During Wimbledon, the matches are the only game in England. The same thing, during the French and same thing in Australia. They are not up against any other sports. We want to be as well exposed as those tournaments are in this country and therefore we have to look at getting the maximum exposure for this tournament.

Q. On television, right?

BUMPY FRAZER: Television, of course, it is a huge part of it.

Q. That is all I am saying.

BUMPY FRAZER: The word "dictate", honestly, I don't agree with you on. If we can put these things on any time we want to, let me say that.

Q. What is your euphemism. . .

BUMPY FRAZER: We believe it is best for the sport.

Q. Even if that is not best for the players, you think this is best. . .

BRIAN EARLEY: All things considered.

BUMPY FRAZER: I can't say it is not best for the players, I am not accepting it. I am not trying to start an argument with players or journalists or anything else. I had hoped we would be able to explain to you at least what our reasons are. I would hope that you would at least accept the premise that there are a lot of factors to be weighed; a lot of people to be considered and I simply want you to know that we and the USTA are doing the best imagineable I think that is all we can say on this subject. Thank you very very much for staying. I know you are tired. I want to say to each of you I very much appreciate you being here and I appreciate what you do for the U.S. Open, so thank you very, very much.

End of FastScripts….

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