Rock 'n' roll hits the charts
YABBA Dabba Doo! Hong Kong's first taste of rock 'n' roll tennis was a huge success last night at the Hong Kong Stadium, much to the delight of besieged sport promoters Spectrum. The Flintstones theme song which has been incorporated into an advertisement by Reebok and was blared over the Stadium's speakers at every opportunity, was the perfect backdrop for the Michael Chang versus John McEnroe exhibition yesterday. While the promoters and sponsors, Panasonic, tried to portray the event as a 'showdown' between the current world number six (Chang) and a legend of tennis (McEnroe), there was no mistaking the fun and light-hearted nature of the night's entertainment.
What was serious, however, was the fact that tennis all around the world in the future, will be played in an atmosphere similar to that seen last night inside the Hong Kong Stadium. Wine (plenty of it drunk in the corporate marquees), women (still chanting Michael, Michael) and song (in the form of Canto-pop band Fire, Wind, Sea) all combined at virgin tennis territory - the Hong Kong Stadium - to give an audience of around 10,000 people, a night to remember. For so long, tennis has been criticised as a 'boring' sport by both the professional players and the paying public.
In an effort to recapture the entertainment factor, the world's governing body, ATP, has recently brought in rules which allow music to be played at breaks, and for spectators to move around. Last night's exhibition was the pioneering attempt to give tennis a shot-in-the-arm in Hong Kong.
The presence of superstars McEnroe and Chang virtually guarantees some exhilarating tennis. With the spicy bits added on, the rock and roll tennis was a huge hit. Lincoln Venancio, group managing director of Spectrum was quoted in the souvenir programme saying: 'We wanted to give the Hong Kong audience something just a bit different.' They succeeded.
The event itself couldn't have had two better ambassadors of the game to flaunt the new-look image of tennis. After having had to wait for two anxious hours, due to a rain interruption, spectators were treated to some fine tennis from Chang who won 6-0, 7-5. McEnroe, long retired from the game, showed only glimpses of his old form.