Lindsay: Somehow, someway, we’ve landed upon the one-year anniversary of The Changeover. It’s hard to believe. I thought it might be fun if we came together and (publicly) talked a bit about the past year on this site–the things we have learned, the things we’ve enjoyed, the things we want to do better–and the general state of tennis media these days. So, what would you guys say your favorite part of the last year has been?
Juan José: One year – that’s amazing. In a way, it feels like it’s been longer than that. Great question, Lindsay – I’m not sure I can pinpoint one specific moment. It’s just been fun to write stuff about tennis and have people read it and comment upon it.
Amy: For me, covering the Aussie Open was one of my favorite parts of our first year at The Changeover. The insane hours and the excitement of our first slam was a lot of fun. And of course, covering an exo at MSG, the DC tournament, and Cincinnati officially for our site was a great experience.
Juan José: Actually, I feel the same way as Amy – the AO was crazy, it deprived me of sleep for a while, but it was fun. It was our first slam as a site! And I’ll piggyback on what Amy said once again: the week that I spent covering the Houston event was a wonderful experience, in so very many ways. I’ll never forget my first presser: sitting on the floor just a few inches from Gael Monfils, asking him my first ever presser question.
Lindsay: I’d agree with everything you both said–I really loved covering the slams with you guys. The nonstop action, the access, and buzz around them are just intoxicating.
I also love the great diversity of things we’re able to put on this site–I feel a bit like it’s my playground. It’s a place where I can share personal stories, write long essays, play with social media, or just be absurd. No professional outlet would ever allow me that creativity, and as I’ve been getting more and more into the freelance writing world, I’ve certainly appreciated it more than ever.
Now, to continue this narcissistic post, what are some of our favorite posts from our first year?
Amy: My all-time favorite Changeover post is Lindsay’s “25 Things that Make Janko Tipsarevic Sigh”. I also loved interviewing Darren Cahill in D.C. He was really generous with his time, and provided some excellent insight.
Juan José: That was a great piece, Amy.
Lindsay: That was so great, Amy. I must say I also really enjoyed your piece on the gender wars in tennis–a really serious issue that needed to be addressed (and something that we want to continue talking about).
Juan Jose, I know that you’ve written a lot of fabulous things since, but your initial profile on Jerzy Janowicz was just so great–your fascination with him was just beginning.
Juan José: Thanks, Lindsay. Paris was so much fun last year … almost exclusively because of good ol’ Jerzy. That post was a lot of fun to write – I think there are few things more exciting for someone who likes sports than that moment where you are sure you are seeing a future star.
Amy: I’m also just delighted that I learned how to make GIFs, mostly because of Delpo.
Juan José: Delpo was definitely the GIFable MVP of 2013, though Azarenka did enough in that one famous post to at least take the WTA portion of the crown.
Lindsay: Amy has certainly become the GIF Queen of tennis! There were lots of great ones his year–Fed and Haas playing doubles in Halle and Vika’s bizarre night in Cincy really stick out.
Juan José: Lindsay, I’ll never forget that piece you wrote about Isner and Querrey from DC, with the Vine of them trying to get a ball into a trash can. It nailed the current state of American men’s tennis.
Amy: Haha, that was entertaining.
Lindsay: Oh man, the trash can. LOL.
Personally, I liked the moments when I got to write long, meandering pieces that were personal and nerdy. I enjoyed. My piece on Dinara and my Wimbledon reflections piece were probably my favorites.
Juan José, your LiveAnalysis posts have become legendary events. Nobody can write in-match analysis like you can!
Juan José: Linz, you’re being way too nice. I wonder who goes back and reads those things. Some have gotten, um, lengthy.
Lindsay: Haha – for a while it really felt like every match you were live-blogging turned into an “epic.”
Juan José: Right – there was that streak where everything seemed to go into a deciding set. But Bernie might’ve broken that against Murray in Miami, I think.
I think my favorite part of this year has been to see our readers connect with the random stuff we’re putting up on the site. Like Lindsay said, The Changeover has been my (at times very nerdy) playground. It’s just been a thrill to have complete creative freedom to explore random aspects of the game, and then see a (mostly) positive response from readers.
Amy: I loved JJ’s search term pieces. Those are hilarious.
Juan José: Sigh … one of these days I’m gonna do a mega Search Term piece. There hasn’t been one in ages!
Lindsay: Yes–bring back the Search Terms! I also miss The Backboard, though I know that was quite the weekly undertaking.
Amy: Agreed. The Backboard was a lot of fun.
Juan José: I miss it, too. But it got to be unwieldy, and after a weekend of writing stuff about semifinals or finals, I just ran out of gas by the start of the next week. Still, The Backboard might go through some changes and come back in some shape or form in the 2014 season.
Lindsay: Bernie’s hat was another fun post. Or posts. We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of Bernie and that hat. Also, Fed’s outfit choices have been blogging gold. And Fernando Verdasco, in general.
Juan José: I have to say that I’ve greatly enjoyed doing our Podcast. One of those things I never thought I’d do. All credit goes to the Brodie for getting us to do it … and of course, for being the Podmaster.
Lindsay: Agreed. The Podcast has been wonderful.
Juan José: Oh, I have to say, I loved what our friend Hannah Wilks wrote about the Serena-Steubenville thing. And James Pham’s stuff from Thailand was fantastic.
Amy: Yes, and our ball kid, Lautaro Grinspan, who wrote about Miami, the French Open, and Wimbledon.
Lindsay: Yes – we have had such fantastic contributors. I hope that’s a trend that continues. (Hint, hint awesome writers who are reading this.)
Juan José: Yes! Lautaro wrote some spectacular stuff. Oh, Linz – your piece on depression and Rebecca Marino was fantastic.
Lindsay: Thanks, JJ.
Okay, enough patting ourselves in the back! (Never!) So, one of the reasons we started this site was to fill what we felt was a hole in tennis media. Most of the writers and bloggers have gone mainstream these days–which is great for them and their outlets, but a loss for general tennis fans who enjoy things a bit more out-of-the-box. Sometimes I think we’ve done a good job stepping in, other times we’ve missed big opportunities. (At times due to scheduling–this not being a full-time job for any of us is a major disadvantage.)
What do you guys think about the general state of tennis media these days, and what can be improved?
Amy: I don’t think there have been any seismic shifts in the last year. There are some great tennis writers doing amazing traditional writing, and there are others doing some innovative things. One example of a media outlet that has done some of that is USA Today. They have started posting more videos and GIFs, which is really cool for such a mainstream outlet.
I think the frustrations we had when we started the site are still out there in full force. The hardly-concealed sexist coverage of the WTA is still far too prevalent. Many of the media outlets that cover tennis regularly are stuck in a journalism model that hasn’t changed since the ‘60s.
Personally, I’ve learned a lot this year about just how hard it is to cover both tours year-round. While I had a tennis website before, it wasn’t always necessary to stay on top of everything. It makes me more inclined to cut some of the journos out there some slack, because it really is a hard job, and many of them do good work. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you’re on the sidelines.
Juan José: Following the trend of this chat, I’m going to agree with Amy on a lot of what she says, particularly about the grind of covering both tours all the time. That was our aim from day one, and I think we can all agree on how exhausting it’s been. I’ve been thinking for a while that tennis has to be the toughest sport to cover: there are matches happening almost every single day for 10.5 months! Plus, 8 weeks of the year are absolute mayhem because of the Slams.
Like Amy, I don’t think there has been a seismic shift in the way tennis is covered, but I have been happy to see more and more statistical pieces about the sport – some of them in major outlets. The problem is access to that kind of interesting information (Hawk-Eye data, for example). Bloggers for other sports have access to really interesting information, whereas in tennis, it’s mostly hidden behind close doors. As much as I’ve enjoyed counting forehands and backhands or tallying returns of serve, it’d be ideal if that data is already available for me to write pieces that say a lot more than what mine are able to.
Lindsay: I completely agree with you guys. I think that there are so many talented writers and journalists in tennis media, and really realizing what a grind the tennis season is makes me appreciate what they do even more. But where you really see tennis lacking is just with the amount of coverage. There are so many editorial outlets that don’t invest in full-time tennis coverage, and I think it’s important that as fans and writers we make sure that our voices are heard, and that editors and publishers start investing more in year-round tennis coverage.
How great would it be if a place like Grantland covered more than just the slams? Or if CBS Sports had tennis blogs like they do for other sports? Or if we could get more tennis highlights shown on SportsCenter and Fox Sports Live (come on, Roddick!). I think that the best thing that could happen to tennis journalism is an increase in competition, but as American stars dwindle and checkbooks continue to tighten, it’s hard to see that happening unless the fans can prove that it really is a financially viable option.
Of course, the sexism in tennis media–and media in general–is still a huge issue, as are the lack of statistics, as JJ mentioned. Basically, there’s still a long way to go and I could talk about this issue forever–maybe we could have another chat or mailbag or something devoted to it, if anyone’s interested.
Right now I’m just going to bask in the one-year glow, though. I feel immensely blessed, it’s been a fantastic journey.
Amy: It really has, I want to extend thanks to everyone who has visited our site for the first year of our existence. It’s surpassed everything I expected it to be, and I truly appreciate the feedback we get, whether it’s positive or negative. I can’t wait for Year 2!
Lindsay: I agree, Amy. From the bottom of our tennis-obsessed hearts, thanks to everyone who stopped by the last year. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.
Juan José: ¡Mil gracias a tod@s!
the first year is da best ! believe me 🙂 you’ve done a good job !
i like a lot all the live analysis, and i often check them when i missed the match… nothing is left appart 😉
i totaly agree with you about the grind of covering the events, even if i’ve done that occasionally on the challenger tour, you have to think about what to write while action is going on… as i’m clueless to take notes, i’ve been making day reports on visual memory and feelings expierenced on site ! journos are much more organized than that 😉
i know one of them very close, so when he’s covering a slam, he works like a dog almost 15h per day for 2 weeks… crazy ! and sometimes there are so little time to enjoy a match on the court, which is even more crazy… journos cover tennis from their desk more than the courts !
it’s difficult for media mainstream to start writing about new subjects or some foreign players… they have other priorities, i think the US are less afraid to explore new things.
in france we joke about l’équipe wrinting week in week out about tsonga or gasquet, eventualy monfils or bartoli because she quits… she never got so much attention before when she was playing ! no kidding, sometimes i open the paper check the tennis pages and i say ” no it’s jo again”… i just don’t buy it…
plus paper and web have totally different issues when it’s the same media, at least in europe… web journos are less journos than paper journos… it’s changing a bit, but not in every media, it will take probably a changing of the guard from old school journos in some places…
plus, on the web, you miss one thing and you are like the last idiot who did not catch it…
the twitter effect has accelerate the process… you have to get the information on first hand, even if later it’s wrong or incomplete.
i hope you are ready to go for the next season, i hope you don’t get the azarenka or baroi burn out, because it’s the negative effect of spending too much time doing the same thing 😉
bartoli burn out !
I have no idea what your daily traffic is, but I can honestly say this is one of a handful of sites I visit daily, and I can’t be alone. I genuinely feel bereft on days where there is no new material posted. Matches unfold and I think “what will Lindsay, JuanJo and Amy say about that”. Thank you, guys – I feel guilty that your written work is available for us all to enjoy for free! Keep it up.
Congrats on an awesome first year!! Here’s to many more!
Congratulations on a good first year highlited for me is having the podcast on a weekly basis during the season.
By the way, tell Brodie to do a better job in keeping up with the correct picks that are done weekly. LOL!!!
Let me add my felicitations to those already expressed. I’d also like to tip my headband to Master Ace, a fellow tennis derelict, who pointed the site out to me (and I’m sure to many others some months ago.
The podcasts are always fun, and I have enjoyed JJ’s statistical analyses, particularly those of WTA matches.
But the best part of all for me are the occasional interviews you folks have occasionally been able to land with players.
I have come to absolutely loathe the pre-match televised Q & A’s featuring such incisive questions as “How does it feel now that you’re in the quarterfinals and you’re going up against player X tonight?” which almost invariably (at least on the WTA side) elicits a canned response like “I’m just going to go out there and try my best and have fun.” The only worse question, IMO, is “Vika, what are you listening to?”
But back to real interviews — a suggestion. You guys have already done this on occasion, but I think there may be more opportunities out there.
For me, it’s not important (although obviously it would be preferable) that the interview be with a top player. It’s important that the questions prompt honest, forthright, and thoughtful responses.
By way of example, earlier this year Jon Wertheim did a fascinating podcast with Megan Moulton-Levy, a rather obscure doubles player, which gave her a chance to talk about the struggles of the journeyman player on tour. I learned more about life on the tour in that one interview, than from the hundred-odd fifty facile “How does it feel to make it into the round of 16” Q’s I have heard this year.
I realize the difficulty involved getting a Serena or a Sharapova to sit down with you for half an hour. But I suspect that at many tournaments there are dozens of not-so-well-known players, many of them thoughtful about tennis and life, that would welcome a chance to talk about their life journey in tennis. I really think that this is a terra incognita worthy of exploration.
In the coming months there will be hundreds of articles and blogs about “Who do you like in the Australian Open?” I’m not suggesting you don’t do those articles, but I would say that there won’t be many stories about how a player goes about booking a doubles partnership, or what happens if one of the players wants to get out of a doubles commitment? Or how do you typically choose a doubles partner — on the basis of technical ability or because you get on well personally? Why do doubles partnerships typically break up? Personal issues or technical issues?
How does one go about selecting a new coach? How are coaches paid (salary? bonus? combination? If you could hire any coach on tour and money was no object, who would it be?
What’s your favorite city on tour? (Not your favorite tournament, but your favorite city) Do you ever have time to explore the cities you visit?
The possibilities are endless.
The personal touch. That’s what’s missing in most sports journalism.
Congratz on your anniversary guys! Ever since Fernando from Tennis.com (yes, that Fernando) pointed you guys out on twitter, you’ve become my no.1 go to for tennis…But what I really enjoy most is how diverse your posts are – ranging from the funny, pop-tennis ones, to the anthropological socially involved ones, to the in-depth analysis of the game – JJ style. Because I’m interested in all those aspects, The Changover is, I find, the perfect website to build a complete image about the tennis as a sport, the state of the game, the people in it and the psychology…etc.
Keep it up, podcasts (and nerdcast!) included – and thank you for investing your time and effort to make the best tennis blog out there.
Congratulations on one amazing year!! I’m probably one of this site’s biggest fans and I cannot put into words how thoroughly I’ve enjoyed reading (more like devouring) all your amazing content. Keep it up and, again, thank you so so much for publishing my stories (and for the flattering shout-out above)!
keep up the awesome work
congrats guys..this site has been one of the best developments in tennis journalism this year. I keep coming back everyday to read your posts. Good luck with your next steps.
Congratulations! Just a lurker here who loves the site and the podcast – looking forward to another year.
Congratulations on your anniversary. Just discovered your site a couple months ago, so the links in this article to previous posts was a great help to find them. I was especially interested in Lindsay’s piece about Rebecca Marino and depression.
Looking forward to year two!
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