The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, December 8, 2020
Inside the WTA rebrand — Interview: Sacramento State Head Coach Cami Hubbs — Must-click women's tennis links
Don’t miss our big news: Renee Montgomery joined our Advisory Board! More here.
WTA For The Game
This past week, the WTA announced a rebrand and rollout called “WTA For The Game.” The aim of the campaign is to tell the athlete’s personal story and essentially, their purpose for playing. The tour began its rebranding strategy with Australian agency Landor, who have helped Tennis Australia and the Australian Open in the past, while maintaining extensive work in China, in January 2019.
Visually, the biggest change is the new WTA logo, it’s first in ten years. It focuses on the player’s serve, which is significant as it’s the only shot where the player is in 100% control. It’s crisp and slightly retro, but continuous with the WTA purple. Katie Spellman said it best — the return to (women’s) tennis instead of just “WTA” lets a casual viewer know exactly what it is.
The WTA production team has done an excellent job at filming and cutting 30-60 second commercial features on an assortment of players. They filmed these spots in Indian Wells as COVID-19 was shutting down the 2020 season. This is the most important part of the puzzle piece, in my opinion. Their announcement says that these videos will be broadcast across player, tournament and affiliate channels. As far as I can remember, the WTA hasn’t put money in direct television ads since the iconic “Strong is Beautiful” campaign and I seriously hope that they include some for this campaign. Getting their videos viewed on ESPN or Tennis Channel, but not only during tennis tournaments, will be vitally important.
Perhaps the biggest inclusion in the rebrand is that the WTA is adopting the tournament categories the ATP has been using. The change includes:
Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 tournaments —> WTA 1000
Premier 700 tournaments —> WTA 500
International tournaments —> WTA 250
125k Series —> WTA 125
What should be noted most is that the revision to the tournament categories won’t change the ranking point allotment or prize money structure. It’s simply a renaming of the tournament categories. However, it seems to be a monumental step in a partnership with the ATP. It’s been long overdue that the ATP put their ego at the door to forge a bond with the WTA. Is it because the Big 3 are close to retirement and no male superstar rising through while the WTA is potentially entering a new Golden Era? Probably, but I’ll take it and also applaud the ATP and Novak Djokovic for sharing the rebrand on their own Twitters.
I was a little underwhelmed when I first saw the rollout, but after seeing more videos and getting used to the new logo/website, I’ve become a fan. Instead of #WTAForTheGame, I would have gone with strictly #ForWTA. There, you can really capitalize on the players’ “why” in the commercial messaging they’re producing. I am concerned about the points/prize money of the new categories. Even though the categories are the same, fans could get confused by women still earning less at specific tournaments.
With that said, I’m not an advertising or marketing guru and I will wait to see how 2021 unfolds for the WTA. It’s quite an exciting time with the tour probably in their most globally optimal position ever. Darren Cahill said it best:
This Week in Women’s Tennis
As of right now, it’s looking like the Australian Open is a go — with a possible February 8 start. The WTA is finalizing their 2021 schedule, with the first week looking like tournaments being held outside of Australia. My guess (and suggestion)? Dubai. It’s been rumored already and this week, the area is hosting a $100k ITF Pro Circuit event featuring 13 Top 100 players, as well as top doubles team Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos.
A massive chunk of the WTA’s calendar is in China, which is why the COVID-19 pandemic ruined the tour’s 2020 schedule. However, CEO Steve Simon says they still plan on returning to the country with a 2021 calendar including over 50 events.
Congratulations to Naomi Osaka, who was named a Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, joining fellow athlete-activists Lebron James, Breanna Stewart, Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Poland took two of the three fan-voted awards for the 2020 WTA season. Magda Linette was voted Shot of the Year, while Iga Swiatek was named Fan Favorite. Simona Halep and Elena Rybakina’s Dubai final was voted Match of the Year.
Former Doubles No. 1 Lisa Raymond, who is nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame this year, sat down with the tennis.com podcast to discuss her playing career, as well as her coaching stints and not being 100% retired. After a brief appearance last year with protégé Allie Kiick, we may see more of Raymond on court next year.
Can you guess the WTA’s top ace leaders for 2020? Spoiler, famed “Ace Queen” Karolina Pliskova didn’t make the list.
WTA Legend Stefanie Graf and husband, fellow Hall of Famer Andre Agassi spoke up about their struggles even when they were atop the tennis rankings.
How great was it seeing Carla Suarez Navarro on the court?! The Spaniard continues her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma treatment, but made sure to get reps in.
In college news, five-time All-American and former professional player Lenka Broosova is returning to her alma mater, Baylor, as their new Associate Head Coach. A four-time winner on the ITF Pro Circuit, she spent the previous seven seasons at Tulsa.
On tennis.com’s most recent My Tennis Life episode, Monica Puig enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and took us along her making an apple pie.
Monica Seles celebrated her birthday last week and John Berkok took us back at some of the most insane stats the American achieved.
Tweet of the Week
Naomi Osaka, I beg you….please never change
Five at the IX: Cami Hubbs, Sacramento State Head Women’s Tennis Coach
Joey: What made you go into coaching? Was it something you always envisioned yourself doing? Do you have an “end goal” down the road?
Cami: I always had coaching as an option in the back of my mind. In college, my father was a collegiate coach while I was growing up and I fell in love with the coaching aspect of the game from an early age. Honestly, I’ve reached the goal I’d been aiming for my entire career, of being at a great D1 institution as the head coach. Right now I feel great about where my career is!
Joey: What have been the biggest challenges throughout your coaching career? Any specific highlights stick out?
Cami: The biggest challenge came this past year with season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team was really hitting a great stride when season was cancelled. On top of that, classes went virtual, so we weren’t able to have the entire team on campus this fall (we have about half of our team international). I haven’t seen some of our student athletes in over nine months!
Joey: Can you talk about the impact COVID-19 has had on your program? With seasons cancelled, players returning and scholarships being affected, how is your current season and the following few look?
Cami: The pandemic has been tough on us in California in general. Our entire region has cancelled all tournaments for Fall, so we weren’t able to have any semblance of normalcy for the past nine months. We were fortunate to get our senior back on a COVID-19 waiver for a fifth year and we are really looking forward to our Spring season, whatever that may look like. Right now we are planning on a very regional schedule and I think everyone is prepared and excited to get back to it.
Joey: A majority of Power 5 women’s tennis coaches are male. Do you see that for a specific reason? How can women help bridge the gap when it comes to coaching numbers?
Cami: I don’t know why many of the Power 5 women’s’ coaches are male. I believe women, especially those that played in their sport, can relate even better than male coaches. I do see a higher rate of women being hired on the women’s side, but I think it’s just because they are finally going after the positions they want.
Joey: What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who gave it? If you could go back in time, what would you tell 18-year-old Cami?
Cami: The best piece of advice I have been given was to never quit and give my best, whatever it might be, each day. That advice came from my late grandmother, another tennis coach, Emma Hubbs.
Going back in time I would tell my 18 year old self to relax a bit and go with the flow. There is no need to be as structured and type-A all the time.