John Feinstein deserves better. Here he writes a perfectly insulting and critical article about the Sovran Bank/DC National Tennis Classic and someone goes and slaps a happy-go-lucky headline on it. "New Surface Gives D.C. Ride in Tennis' Fast Lane" (Aug. 4).
Given the lengths to which Feinstein went in bashing the tournament and its management company, ProServ, this headline was misleading and inaccurate.
In no particular order, Feinstein misstated or misled us readers about the official name of the tournament, the reason the top players entered, the depth of the player field, the quality of Boris Becker's play, the future ownership of the proposed new tennis stadium and Donald Dell's postmatch interview with Ivan Lendl.
To set the record straight, the official name of the tournament Feinstein poked fun at for being too long and too corporate, is one word shorter than he reported and also happens to be the actual name of the sponsor. Should the sponsor change its name to satisfy Feinstein?
Messrs. Lendl and Connors, age 27 and 34, respectively, are both old enough and independent enough to choose where they would like to play. Both tell their management company, ProServ, where they will play at the beginning of the year. Then, an independent body, which governs the Men's International Professional Tennis Council, works out designations with the players to compete in specific Grand Prix events worldwide. Connors and Lendl were designated by the MIPTC, not ProServ, to play professional tennis in Washington.
Contrary to what Feinstein would like readers to believe, there were players other than the "Big Three" -- Connors, Lendl and Boris Becker -- ranked among the top 100 in the world in the tournament. His statement that, "Brad Gilbert reached the semifinals without playing anyone ranked in the top 100 in the world," belittles the fact that 17 of the world's 100 best (and a record number of over 102,000 spectators) came down from the mountains to brave the heat.
On to ownership of the facility. Since the site for the proposed new tennis center is in a public park, it is impossible that, "Dell and ProServ are going to get their new stadium and they will sell boxes in it next year for $100,000 each." Neither Dell nor ProServ will, or can, own any part of the stadium, but they will help the patrons sell sky suites for $100,000; boxes will go $10,000 for eight seats.
Finally, Dell's postmatch statement about Lendl -- "You were the best player at Wimbledon" -- came in two parts. In the second part, which Feinstein conveniently omitted, Dell explained that over the last year Lendl has proven he is the world's best player by virtue of his U.S. Open title on hard courts, French Open championship on clay and Wimbledon final appearance on grass.
For years, The Post and John Feinstein made fun of the "No-Name Classic." Now we have the "big names," and Feinstein's criticism and negativism continue.
I guess Feinstein will never be happy. But to make tennis fans happy, have him do us one favor. Next year, let him join the other top 100 players who don't play Washington and would "rather spend a week in Vermont or Canada." We would rather read the coverage of someone who genuinely likes the sport -- not that of an overly cynical writer. Robert P. Pincus Washington
Robert Pincus is president and chief executive officer of Sovran Bank/DC National.
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