Club culture meets the game in riot of fluorescent light

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The Independent Online

Tennis is turning up the volume and turning off the lights. In a stark white building in downtown Miami, models strut about in outfits that glow under the black lights, a DJ spins club classics and tennis players blast backhand shots across the darkened court.

In an effort to attract a younger crowd to the sport, Sony Ericsson - which sponsors the WTA Tour and this week's tournament on Key Biscayne - has created a series of events simply called "Night Tennis", combining the game with fashion and club culture. The organisers said more than 10,000 people requested tickets.

Dee Dutta, a marketing executive with Sony Ericsson, said the company is not trying to completely change the game - simply to bring it to a new audience. "There is a need to get tennis to be at its rightful place - as the hippest, coolest sport that it used to be," he claimed.

The new night-time version - which was road-tested in Madrid last year - will be staged again next year in Asia. At the event in Miami fluorescent black lights illuminate players' white shirts and neon tape along the rackets' edges. Spectators see flashes of neon orange and green when the racket meets the ball.

Players serve underarm serves from a backcourt marked out in neon orange. To keep serving, a server must win the next point. Matches consist of three, three-minute games.

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