In the past few days, the world of tennis went from teetering while ostensibly remaining stationary before arriving at a consensus, or a semblance thereof. To get a better measure of where the sport stands, TennisWorld USA spoke with Dirk Hordorff, vice-president of the German Tennis Federation (DTB) across myriad topics.
The first, obviously, was about the United States Tennis Association’s decision to stage the US Open. This is what Hordorff had to say: Your thoughts on the pros and cons of the US Open and other events of the American swing being held this year? First, I want to gratulate the USTA, and here in special Patrick Galbraith, the new tournament director Stacey Allaster and Eric Butorac for their hard work to make this new start of tennis happen.
It was for sure not easy to plan in these outstanding times this event. Still, I am not happy that there is no qualification for the main event. May (be) the qualification could have happened in another place like Orlando and only the winners from the qualification would have come to New York for the main draw.
It will be a different US Open. But in these times, it’s a brave decision to run the tournament. I hope the USTA will be rewarded for this and the players and all involved persons will stay healthy There was a Zoom call held with the ATP players in the last few days with several discussions about the season being restarted in the USA.
There were some players who said some of the consultations did not yield the results they expected following the announcement of the season's restart. What is your personal opinion on these reported differences? A Zoom call with over 400 players is not easy.
Especially if it’s the first call after the stop of the tennis tour since the beginning of March. And the results presented were not satisfying for a lot of players, especially the reduced main draws, the hotel situation and the non played qualification.
I fully understand the reactions of the players and believe that the ATP should handle the communication with their player members in a similar situation in a better way.
Dirk Hordorff's thoughts on men's tennis' status quo
Where does men's tennis stand at this point? There has always been a divide between the top players and the not-so-well-off players and this divide has become more obvious in the present situation.
How does tennis reconcile this divide, going forward? Is it even possible to do so? It’s hard to understand when on the one side, the players want to support the lower-ranked players and on the other side, the players below 100 are excluded for a Grand Slam, even in these times.
Also, the non-presence of the top three players in the call, all members of the player council, was not the best sign for their colleagues. In your opinion, should tennis have restarted this year or waited to start in January 2021? We don’t know how is the situation in beginning of 2021.
All sports (are) trying to start. And tennis as a sport with no contact, in New York played outside, is a sport which is better to play than any other sport. Especially in these times tennis has the unique opportunity to be presented in the best possible way, even if spectators are not allowed.
If the health allows tennis should not wait, should show that s it’s more healthy to play tennis instead of other sports. In your opinion, what were the lessons that tennis missed learning from the pandemic-caused stopping of the tour? This pandemic was for the world outstanding.
(The) Olympics or Wimbledon were only cancelled in World War times and in this Corona times. Tennis had to learn how to use these times like all others. Mostly communication could have improved. But also, solidarity with the ones which are mostly affected by this crisis was important.
The tennis institutions mostly handled this situation in a fair and professional way. To see the whole picture, to understand the need of the society is sometimes more important then to look only selfish to yourselves. And to solve a crisis together was one of the positive effects in tennis.
ITF, ATP and WTA made here a good job. With regard to German tennis, please shed light on how the sport is making a return in the country? In Germany, we also had a lockdown at the beginning of March. In my opinion, the German government reacted smart, our numbers of infected persons and victims were quite good comparing to other countries.
We are lucky to have a good health system for everybody and our hospitals were well prepared, so we didn’t have any problems with this. Since April our professional players were allowed with high hygiene regulations to practise, since the end of April, tennis was allowed for the public.
We could convince that tennis as a non-contact sport is good for the health of the people if we keep the right regulations like no handshake, enough distance and hygiene standards. In my opinion, it’s much better to play tennis than to get in the streets close to each other or waste time in shopping malls. Photo Credit: German Tennis Federation (DTB)