17 March 2020 | Tennis Australia

The step from court to camera might seem a logical one for past and present players who progress from playing careers to broadcast – if they can play tennis at such a high level, after all, it must also be natural to speak seamlessly on it?

There are in fact many complexities in swapping a racquet with a microphone, as players including Sam Stosur, Casey Dellacqua, Kimberly Birrell, Bojana Bobusic and Taylor Capannolo have discovered.

Those women participated in a special pre-summer commentary school at Tennis Australia, the host broadcaster for the Australian Open, ATP Cup, as well as many other events and tournaments.

Timing, tone, interview techniques, studio discipline and specific tips for the commentary booth were among the topics covered by experts including experienced commentator Todd Woodbridge, well-known Australian sports presenter Stephanie Brantz and Tennis Australia senior producer James Watson.

“It’s something that I’m really aware of as a player that came into this area that you really learn on your feet,” explained Woodbridge, who has become a prominent presenter since he ended his world No.1 doubles career with 22 major titles (16 men’s and six mixed) in 2005.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Tennis Australia and TA broadcast to really hone the skills of people and get them ready – for what commentary is about, as an expert, as a lead commentator, as a presenter and as a host.”

While learning the basics of broadcast, the group were also encouraged to speak naturally as they draw on their vast tennis knowledge for broadcast audiences.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” said Stosur, who appreciated instant observations from such experienced advisors. “Sometimes you do a commentary match here and there and you don’t really get much feedback.

“To actually be able to practice and learn how it all works is invaluable. I know that next time I go into this I’ll actually have a bit of an idea about what’s going on and what I should try and improve.”