Frances Tiafoe defeated Ben Shelton in the final match of day one (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) tournament in Los Angeles profiled the talent and personalities of eight ATP stars, including Wu Yibing, Frances Tiafoe, and Taylor Fritz. Veteran tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou created UTS to allure younger fans to tennis.

“The young generation doesn’t watch tennis … and all the demographics show that the average age is 61. Every year, this fan base is getting older,” Mouratoglou said. “We wanted to choose some players that the younger generation can connect with because they’re exciting to watch … and have them compete in something that is short, super dynamic, no downtime, super exciting, super crazy.”

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In the UTS, sets are replaced with quarters; game points are valued at one point instead of the traditional 15-30-40 sequence. The first player to win three quarters wins the match. If the players are tied with two quarter points each, they go into sudden death where the first player to win two consecutive games wins.

The UTS was invited to bring younger viewers to tennis (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

The tournament consisted of eight players divided into two groups; they played in a round-robin format, resulting in 12 matches over two days. The two best players from each group qualify for the Semifinals on the third day.

The other Los Angeles competitors were: Gaël Monfils, Alexander Bublik, Ben Shelton, Diego Schwartzman, and Benoit Paire. Tennis star Nick Kyrgios was slated to play but was swapped out with Paire due to injuries.

The nets are shorter so players can volley around it, the tennis court is modified to have no double lines. DJ Dense played music in between and throughout games. Fans witnessed players hit underhand serves and hit the ball between their legs.

A UTS tournament consists eight players doing round-robin-style play to determine who makes the semifinals (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Several celebrities also showed up throughout the tournament, including actor Boris Kodjoe, legendary boxer Mike Tyson, and two-time NBA champion Sasha Vujačić. Kodjoe coached Tiafoe in his match against Shelton on the first day of the tournament.

“There was a lot of artists and stuff here and people was talking, yelling,” Tiafoe said. “It’s a good environment to play. It makes it fun, makes it fun for the players, fun for the fans.”

Players trashed talked, celebrated, and danced after winning points and matches. Monfils views trash talking as a means to bring the best out of his opponents.

Gaël Monfils defeated Tiafoe and Alexander Bublik to reach the semifinals (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

“At the end, it’s only  love. You have really mad and mean trash talk but I don’t think I’m sort of the guy to say mean stuff,” Monfils said. “It’s just to fire you up a little bit and bring the best out of you and that’s it. My trash talk is quite easy to be honest.”

Players were also coached throughout their matches, broke rackets and heckled back at hecklers without punishment.

“The format is good, the people are enjoying, so that’s the most important,” Paire said after losing his first match to Yibing. The match went into the Sudden Death round, the first of four Sudden Death rounds Yibing would face during the weekend.

Ben Shelton punched his ticket to the semifinals by defeating Bublik and Monfils (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Each player went by nicknames, Tiafoe was referred to as “Big Foe” and Fritz was better known as “The Hot Shot,” for example.

On day two, Bublik, also known as “The Bublik Enemy,” lost to Monfils 0-3 and defeated Tiafoe 3-0. Aces played a key role in his victory.

“When I serve aces, I have confidence,” Bublik said. “When I serve double faults, I’m lacking confidence.”

Shelton (left) high fives Monfils during their day two match against each other (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

After the two days of round-robin play, the semifinals were set with Monfils battling Fritz and Shelton going against Yibing.  Fritz defeated Monfils after heading into a sudden death round. The muggy heat that Sunday brought was a challenge for Fritz to play in.

“The conditions were extra slow, it’s not as hot, it’s humid, it’s heavy,” Fritz said. “It’s more draining, more tiring to be out there.”

DJ Dense played music while fans cheered throughout UTS matches (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

The weekend-long event concluded with Yibing winning the UTS championship.

Yibing noted that he took 10 days off to connect with family and friends after competing in Wimbledon prior to competing in the UTS.

“I went back to China … and I came back here, first tournament on hard court, I win,” Yibing said. “It gives me a lot of confidence.”

players can engage with fans and trash talk (Jevone Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

As players enjoyed the excitement of the UTS, some rules were a challenge to different players. Rules did not allow players to have warm-ups before matches. Players also only have one chance to serve.

“I thought I did a pretty good job mixing it up, being aggressive at times. I think I only missed maybe three or four serves,” Shelton said after his match with Bublik on day one. “I’ve definitely been practicing some … with the focus of this week being a one-serve tournament.”