The U.S. Open tennis tournament starts this week. Having
just written that I’m afraid I lost half my audience.
Unlike in Europe, wagering on tennis is not a big deal in
While golf and NASCAR have gained tremendous popularity
with bettors here, tennis still hasn’t caught on.
The handle on tennis is minuscule, something like less than
a half of one percent.
It’s too bad because sometimes you can find good
handicapping opportunities. We’ll get back to that angle shortly, but first
why doesn’t tennis draw more betting action?
“This is not a tennis town,” said Gerry Springer, club
tennis pro at Sunset Park and an avid sports bettor. “We do 10 tournaments a
year for adults.
“If you go to Phoenix, you can play a tournament every
week out of 52, and probably 40 of those weeks you can pick the east side or
Lack of knowledge also hurts tennis. Aside from the top
players, most people can’t name many tennis players.
“People don’t know most of the pros,” Springer said.
The sports books only post odds on the four grand slam
events. The U.S. Open, played in New York, is the only tournament convenient for
people in this country to watch the matches live.
Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the only tournaments that
really draw any bets. Smaller sports books might not even post odds on the
French Open and Australian Open.
Most of the money coming in on tennis is on matchups.
However, the books don’t start posting matchups until the quarterfinals or
Jay Kornegay, race and sports book director at the Imperial
Palace, believes it would be easier to book and bet tennis if the draw was more
publicized, similar to how the NCAA basketball tournament bracket is featured.
“They need to publish the bracket so people can track
what’s going on in tournaments and who they face next,” Kornegay said.
“This would give a sense of following the tournament.
“You’re wondering is this the second round or third
round? What took place before?”
People like Springer, who really know and follow tennis,
though, can do well betting the sport.
Yet like any sport, it’s often hard to find value on the
future book. But sometimes you can find an edge in matchups.
One gambler said the best value he ever found betting any
sport happened during the 1990 French Open finals pitting Andres Gomez against
Agassi was a heavy favorite. Part of this was due to Agassi
being from Las Vegas and having a much bigger name than Gomez. The French Open
happens to be played on a clay surface.
Because of that the gambler took Gomez, who was an absolute
clay court specialist. Agassi has since become an excellent clay court player,
too, but Gomez was in his prime and won the match. Many people considered it an
upset. But it wasn’t to this gambler.
The same bettor also did well going against Ivan Lendl at
Wimbledon. Lendl could never win a Wimbledon title because he wasn’t good
enough on a grass court, which favors serve-and-volley players.
But all this is ancient history. How about this year’s
Agassi is the men’s favorite at 3-1, followed by Pete
Sampras at 7-2, according to odds posted by Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
“If somebody would give me a head-to-head bet, I would
take Sampras on that surface every time,” Springer said. “On a clay surface
I would take Agassi every time.”
At those low odds, though, Springer wouldn’t take either
Agassi or Sampras. Instead he likes 19-year-old Andy Roddick, who LVSC had at an
“I wouldn’t hesitate,” Springer said about betting
Roddick. “He should be 10-1. I think he’s a steal, and you don’t get
steals in tennis. The odds are terrible.” On the women’s side, Springer
likes Martina Hingis, who is the third-betting choice at 9-2 behind Venus
Williams at 3-1 and Lindsay Davenport at 4-1.
Springer favors Hingis because of her good form and mental
toughness. Hingis caught a break in the draw. She’s in the other bracket away
from Williams, the defending champ, and No. 2 seed Jennifer Capriati.
OK, you can go back to football now.