OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Andy Roddick believes there’s a conversation ahead among pro tennis players to consider whether forming a union would be the best way to tackle the sport’s issues with a collective voice.
Prompted by weather issues that played havoc with the U.S. Open this month, Roddick suggested that the players should think about creating a union similar to those in other major pro sports. He even talked about being willing to lead the charge.
“We’ve always wanted a voice. Unfortunately it hasn’t come,” Roddick said Sunday night after playing exhibition matches in Oklahoma City. “We’re not sure what we’d do. Whether it means a stoppage for a major tournament, that’s something we’ve got to talk about.
“If we do that, I’m sure we’ll all get together and play somewhere for a charity of some sort or to show people that it’s more about a voice and not about dollars so much.”
The idea of unionizing came front and center when the weather caused a condensed schedule and other problems in Flushing Meadows. One of Roddick’s matches was forced to move to a tiny court when there were issues with water on the playing surface.
“We were at the Open and we didn’t have a voice to not go on, and that kind of struck us as odd considering that we’re the ones out there playing and risking and the whole deal,” Roddick said.
Roddick said he wouldn’t expect anything to happen until tour players reconvene in Shanghai next month
“I think if we are going to do something, it’s going to be thoroughly thought out and it’s not going to happen tomorrow,” Roddick said. “But it’s certainly a conversation at this point.”
Otherwise, Roddick’s evening was anything but serious. He teamed with his older brother, John, for a doubles match against Mardy Fish and David Martin. Then Roddick and Fish, America’s two highest-ranked men, played a two-set singles match that Roddick won 10-7 in a tiebreaker.
The first pro tennis event in Oklahoma City since the 2002 Davis Cup brought out the showman in Roddick.
He provided a steady run of playful banter with the other players and the crowd throughout the night.
He played cat and mouse with a ball boy and a ball girl, rolling balls in different directions and playfully standing over a ball to tease whether he was going to pick it up on his own. Then he acted surprised when the chair umpire told him he was up for a second serve, not a first.
He even took requests from the audience on other players to imitate. He started out with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, rolled up his sleeves to mimic Rafael Nadal and then capped it off by doing his best Serena Williams. He shoved two rolled-up towels in the back of his shorts, then acted as though he was berating a line judge.
“That’s the cool thing about these exhibitions. It think you can be a little bit more interactive with the crowd, you can hit a couple more trick shots, some imitations and whatnots,” Roddick said.