State of Origin for marooned Aussie tennis players?
Tennis Australia is supportive of John Millman's suggestion to create an interstate tennis competition featuring some of the nation's legendary champions alongside contemporary stars.
Millman outlined a loose plan to have a series involving legends, current tour competitors and juniors as a way for Australian players to prepare for when the circuit eventually restarts after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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The Queenslander said: "If Australia recovers before ATP (and WTA) tour is ready to kick off again I think we have a unique opportunity in our sport to create domestic interest in tennis again.
"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: 2 Legend players (one male and one female), 6 current players (three males and three females), 2 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."
TA praised Millman's creativity.
"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," it 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, and the last thing we in tennis want is to cause any spike in infections.
"Of course any event planning will be done in close consultation with the government and health authorities."
Millman, who is training in Brisbane, said: "I think it's something that's probably a little bit different and people are screaming out for something a little bit different and everyone wants a bit of sport.
"I imagine we're going to have to think of a way but, like I said, I'm not totally sure what the plan is down south - what they're (TA) planning, what's in the pipeline.
"I know they're going through a big performance restructure right now so I'm not sure where their funds and where their heads are at with all that type of stuff."
Millman's proposal won the immediate support of peers James Duckworth, John Peers, Alex Bolt and Anastasia Rodionova.
"It's something I was speaking to 'Ducks' about so we're going to have a bit of think-tank the next couple of days and put together something and see what they say," Millman said.
Originally published as State of Origin for marooned Aussie tennis players?