Some days there has been standing room only to watch the afternoon doubles action. The reason, most recreational and club tennis players play and relate to doubles. Let this serve as a message to those tennis types that have been trying to get downgrade or even eliminate doubles at professional events and college matches.
Monday's doubles pro am, where local players were paired with touring professionals was a hit. Every pro am slot was filled well before the start of the tournament and 100's of fans turned out just to watch the pro am.
"It was huge," said tournament director Eric Hayes. "Everyone had a great time playing and watching the doubles, and that is the way it should be."
In a survey conducted for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the Tennis Industry Association by Taylor Research and Consulting, tennis participation has increased by 4 percent to end the year 2012. This means the numbers top 28 million players for the first time since 2009. It also means many of these players are playing doubles- in tournaments, leagues, mixers, and socially.
Kids are playing doubles
The greatest increase in tennis participation has been among young players ages 6-11. This is a 13 -percent increase from 2011. A quick glance at many of the spectators watching the doubles action showed many to be in that demographic. The kids watching doubles were glued to the quick points, the reflex volleys and way the players strategized between points.
"Getting kids to play doubles will help their singles," added Hayes.
The singles draw may get most of the attention from the media- and I'm guilty of that too, but in Macon the doubles play has been fascinating. None of the seeded teams made it past the second round, and the doubles final will consist of players American college tennis fans may have heard of, but not too many other people.
Even the players love playing doubles, and it's not because it puts a little extra money in their pockets, although that is a nice side benefit.
Allie Kiick and her partner Lauren Embree lost in the quarterfinals here in Macon, but she won a USTA Pro Circuit doubles event, the $25,000 tournament in Winnipeg, Canada, last July. She partnered with Heide El Tabakh of Toronto, Canada for the win and she said it's great "doubling her pleasure" each week.
“I love (doubles),” she said, “And I really try to use it as a way to get ready for an upcoming singles match. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”
The Bryan Brothers are by far the most recognizable doubles team in the world, and the best duo of all-time, and they take the lead in promoting doubles to the masses.
The Bryan's aren't needed here in Macon, judging by the number of fans watching doubles here, it's doing just fine.