Sega’s Football Manager franchise is something I have sunk over 2000 hours in, losing sleep trying to take Dulwich Hamlet F.C. to the English Premier League. Tennis Manager 2021 is the tennis variant of Football Manager, and, while it is only in early access, it offers numerous exciting features for tennis fans.
Tennis Manager 2021 puts you in the pivotal position of running a tennis academy. This game is built to never end, consistently giving you fresh tournaments to play in and improve your rank. If you lose out in the semi-finals, well you’ve got another tournament a week later to redeem yourself. This is where Tennis Manager 2021 excels. I constantly found myself contemplating sleep and “just playing one more match.”
“If you have played Football Manager before, you’ll no doubt be used to the clean UI in Tennis Manager.”
There is an incredible amount of detail added in every section of Tennis Manager 2021. You can check ranking statistics for Mens, Females, Junior Boys, and Junior Girls. You can also register for tournaments and manage the training, game plans, sponsors, and contracts of everyone enrolled at your academy. As the owner of a tennis academy, you must also manage finances and build upon the infrastructure. There are countless things to do in the game, and there is never a dull moment.
If you have played Football Manager before, you’ll no doubt be used to the clean UI in Tennis Manager. However, the most frustrating part is when you use the search function. Using a filter requires you to click a tickbox to enable the filter. This just seems like an extra step, which in my experience, led to me forgetting to click it and having to redo all of my filters. Although other than that, Tennis Manager is incredibly easy to navigate, and even the emails are colour coded.
“Tennis Manager‘s gameplay is a massive part of what makes it good.”
Coming from someone who uses probably one too many coloured labels on their emails, the email label system is amazing. It is something that I wished its counterpart featured. The emails also feature hyperlinks, which can be incredibly helpful to scout players. However, sometimes the hyperlinks were incorrectly linked or would be missing altogether. Subsequently, these links just took me to my own players, which became a little awkward when trying to hunt down the correct player. Luckily, this was a minor issue and didn’t affect my overall experience in any way.
Tennis Manager‘s gameplay is a massive part of what makes it good. The 3D match simulation graphics are great, and it does make each match genuinely enjoyable to watch. While its visual prowess is stunning, sometimes the player’s racket doesn’t connect with the ball but is still returned. This also happens with drop shots, with the player running all the way up to the ball to completely miss it. Over time, this became a little annoying, especially because I ended up just losing faith in my player hitting the ball.
Unfortunately, playing match after match can get a little boring as there isn’t a lot you can do when coaching. While it does make sense to not include many options of interaction in the match, I feel like I did start to lose interest in watching games play out. Thankfully, you have the option to simulate games as well. This felt like a great option when I wanted quick results, especially in smaller tournaments.
“Tennis Manager 2021 does still feel like an Early Access title.”
Tennis Manager 2021 also iterates real-world situations into the game. Sadly, in my playthrough, they didn’t have much of an effect on the gameplay. Ultimately, feeling a little pointless. This was also my experience with press interviews. Many of the questions, felt the same, and I didn’t believe there would be any consequences to anything I said in the interviews.
While there is considerable depth in every function, Tennis Manager 2021 does still feel like an Early Access title. It does appear to be missing a lot of the quality of life features that are present in other games of the genre.
Tennis Manager 2021 is definitely a game to keep your eye on, and I have no doubt that the game will improve significantly before its full release. However, in its current state, the price tag seems a little too high for what you receive in return. It is currently priced at AU$50, and I encourage waiting for a sale or a few more updates.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the developer.