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What is Thirty30 Tennis?
By Mark Milne

Tennis is the most fantastic sport but have you ever heard about Thirty30 Tennis?
 
To give you a quick lowdown, Thirty30 tennis is a format of the sport in which you can use all the same tennis skills that you already have, but the game is shorter which means you need less of a time investment.
 
For those who follow the sport of cricket, Thirty30 is a take on Twenty20 (or T20) cricket, which is a shorter format of the game that combines all the skills of cricket and packages them into a format that finishes in a fraction of the time of other limited over's formats.
 
Whereas a conventional tennis match is the best of three or five sets, and Thirty30 tennis is also the best of three or five sets, every game starts at “thirty-all” (i.e. 30-30, announced “thirty-thirty”) - the clue is in the name! It is a fast paced game and matches are significantly shorter.
 
Alternative Scoring Formats to Conventional Tennis
 
There are quite a few options when it comes to alternatives to a traditional tennis match.
 
One is Fast4, which is where each set is played up to four games only, with a tie-break at 3-3, and there are no Advantage points played, i.e. “sudden-death” deuce.
 
Then there's Tie Break Tens, where matches are one Match Tie-break to ten points.
 
Ultimate Tennis Showdown is another format which has been in the news lately because of its association with world-famous coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Matches consist of four timed 10 minute quarters using tie-break like scoring.
 
And then you have the 8 Game Pro Set, with 'matches' being the first to 8 games.
 
Gaining in popularity now is Thirty30 Tennis.
 
Why are Alternative, Shorter Formats of Tennis Necessary?
 
At the core is the fact tennis, like other sports in the world, needs to evolve as well.
 
While nobody is challenging the primacy of Grand Slam tennis and ATP and WTA 1000 competitions, there is a definite need to get a younger, fresher audience to the game and the one way of attracting these new fans is to offer them a shorter format.
 
History & Origins of Thirty30 Tennis
 
Growing up in Scotland during the 1970's and 80's, tennis was very much a Summer sport played from April to September before racket players moved indoors to take to badminton or squash. Indoor tennis courts weren't available and I played squash during the winter months.
 
In early winter 2016 I decided to call it a day with my long-term squash playing partner - we had played each other twice a week for almost 15 years for fun and exercise. I was looking for something else to do during the following winter months.
 
I came across Touchtennis, the new updated faster version of Short Tennis, which is now played with 21" strung rackets, a faster more dense sponge ball and is typically played indoors on a badminton court in a 1 hour court booking slot.
 
I got together with a hitting partner and we started playing twice a week at the local Sports Centres in Arbroath.
 
It was great fun and great exercise. We started off using the 'old' Short Tennis scoring method where matches are best-of-3 sets, players serve two points at a time alternately using point per rally scoring and sets are played to 11 points, lead by 2 points.
 
What I and my hitting partner decided was to use traditional tennis rules while playing Touchtennis but that extended their game time to beyond the one hour court booking slot.
 
With typically no winner decided within an hour, it left a sour taste and I decided to remedy that by using a method my coach had used as a kid to help me play the “big points” better - start the games at 30-30.
 
We started playing best-of-3 sets matches using the 30-all game starts.
 
With a bit of experimenting with the 'change of ends' rule (it is 'doubled up' in Thirty30 tennis - some games are over in only 2 points and the conventional 'change of ends' rule resulted in changing ends too quickly) and the use of the 9 point Short Set tie-break at 6 games all in a set, we had a format where a best-of-3 sets 'tennis' match was invariably completed in the timeframe of 1 hour.
 
A set was taking on average no longer than 20 minutes to complete - the game score ticked over much more quickly and every second point played was a game point! Much more exciting!
 
“Then, in what I call a “light-bulb” moment towards the end of 2016 I woke up in the middle of the night and decided that this shorter faster-paced format would be called “Thirty30_ tennis.
 
The game got its name because each game starts at thirty all, or thirty-thirty.
 
When “30-all” is written as “30-30” it is read as “thirty-thirty” and the clue would be in the name - it says what it does on the tin! - “Thirty30” tennis - every game starts at “thirty-thirty” (“30-all”).
 
You still get to Deuce and play out the Advantage points, but the games are a lot quicker than in the normal game of tennis.
 
The scoring method, other than starting at thirty-thirty, is exactly the same as traditional tennis and the DNA of tennis is maintained.
 
Especially impressive are the people around the world, playing Thirty30 Tennis. There are testimonials from a lot of players in the USA and Canada, but also from India, Japan, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and South Africa!
 
Future of Thirty30 Tennis
 
There is no doubting tennis needs to evolve and younger audiences need to be captured as the sport faces stiff competition from not just other sports but also many other distractions.
 
My hope is that as many tennis fans as possible will try playing this format.
 
I am currently building a case to re-apply to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) with a goal of getting the Thirty30 scoring method accepted for official trialling at a few smaller events as per the 'Foreword' in their Rules of Tennis Handbook.
 
The ultimate goal for Thirty30 is, following the official trialling, to get the scoring method officially sanctioned by the ITF as an alternative shorter faster paced scoring format (in a similar way to the rules of Tennis Australia's Fast4 have been included in Appendix V).
 
The ITF had deemed in 2017 there were already too many shorter formats of tennis and wouldn't be able to consider Thirty30 as another one.
 
Cricket created Twenty20 as people wanted shorter faster matches and the format brings in huge money and has millions of followers.
 
Can Thirty30 tennis head the same way? Time will tell.
 
Rules of Thirty30 - A Quick Guide
 
1. All Games start from 30-30, announced “thirty-thirty”.
 
2. If a Set reaches 6-6, a nine-point Tie Break (first to 5 points) is played, with 'sudden-death' at 4-4.
 
3. No Tie Break in the final Set.
 
4. Change of Ends after the first two Games and then every four after that.
 
5. Alternate Servers for the start of each Set.
 
You can find more details about Thirty30 tennis on the official website: www.thirty30tennis.com.
 


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