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.
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.
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.
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!