Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flach Singles out Doubles as Good Fan Fare

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flach Singles out Doubles as Good Fan Fare

Article excerpt

When he isn't trashing Bob Costas or the Women's Tennis Association or sportswriters or female sportscasters, John McEnroe is even ripping doubles players.

To be precise, doubles specialists. Earlier this spring, according to Tennis magazine, he called them a joke.

"Let them start a doubles circuit, and we'll see how many tickets they'll sell," he said.

We'll see, indeed. A doubles-only circuit may be in the works, featuring players such as St. Louis native Ken Flach and the Jensen brothers and others who make their livings at doubles. The inaugural event is scheduled for Atlanta after the U.S. Open, with another possibly in Jamaica later in the year. If all goes well, Flach said, Pepsi will sponsor a full tour of doubles-only events during weeks that don't conflict with regular ATP tournaments.

"Doubles is such an untapped market," Flach said in a promotional appearance for the St. Louis Aces, who begin their month-long season July 6.

Just maybe the doubles players will connect with a segment of tennis aficionados who are put off by prima donna singles stars.

"Doubles players are more blue-collar, approachable guys," Flach said. "We'll do pro-ams and sign autographs and mingle with people. We'll do inner-city clinics.

"The top singles players give nothing back to the game unless something's in it for them. They get so greedy and caught up in their entourages and `yes' people."

The emphasis on doubles is one reason Flach is heading into his second season of World TeamTennis. He thinks doubles and the entire team-tennis concept is the way tennis ought to be.

The tennis establishment "makes a big mistake by not promoting doubles," he said. "I think kids shouldn't be able to play singles until they're 11 or 12, so it's not this kid out there by himself with his parents staring at him and cheating and crying. It would teach kids at an early level to play an all-court game.

"They say racket sales are down, and meanwhile team sports are huge. You've got to introduce kids to tennis through a team format. …

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