All of us have our pet peeves. And if you happen to play and watch tennis, you’ll absolutely have yours.
Billie Jean King, the last word trailblazer, who crusaded to enhance our sport since she was 11, has lengthy focused Wimbledon’s strict all-white costume code. “Nothing is worse in sports activities than if you activate the tv and two gamers are carrying the identical uniform or identical outfits,” she instructed CNN final yr. “It’s horrible. Nobody is aware of who’s who. I’ve been yelling for years that that is certainly one of my pet peeves. Have you ever ever seen any sport the place opponents put on the identical outfit?”
‘Wasted time’ tops Patrick McEnroe’s record of pet peeves. “In no different sport do gamers have as a lot management to find out once they wish to begin play as in tennis,” stated ESPN analyst McEnroe, a former world-class competitor, through the 2018 US Open. “Think about on the point of begin an NFL sport, a tee time on the Masters, or a World Cup soccer sport, and the participant says, ‘Maintain on! I have to go to the lavatory!’”
Time is of the essence in a sport the place ‘motion time’ — when the ball is in play — constitutes solely about 15% of the ‘complete match time’ in comparison with about 40% in soccer, basketball, ice hockey, and soccer. Rightly irritated by lackadaisical, dawdling gamers, McEnroe lauded the adoption of a 25-second ‘serve clock’ and escalating penalties for violations. “I’m so pleased that the US Open is using the shot clock on court docket in the primary draw,” P-Mac stated. “That is nice for the followers. We have now to maintain issues transferring, change with the instances.”
As one of many world’s hottest sports activities, tennis has a lot to brag about. But it surely ought to undertake and implement guidelines — each written and unwritten—that promote equity for gamers and leisure for followers.
In the direction of this finish, I’ve listed some pet peeves about what tennis can and will do with out.
The wacko warmup — Considered one of Australian professional Daria Saville’s pet peeves is opponents hitting winners through the pre-match warmup. I can’t conceive of that on the professional tour. At Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts, the place I observe, a vibrant character used to whack winners through the warmup, and when it was over, he’d crow, “I gained the warmup!” At a senior event warmup, my opponent stored blasting balls within the corners. So as to add insult to harm, once I hit a weak return, he’d hit a drop shot.
Ball youngsters older than 14 years of age — Towering, older youngsters, and even younger adults with beards, carry out this necessary however routine job when a lot youthful ball youngsters can do it simply as effectively. The first accountability of ball girls and boys is to effectively take away balls from the taking part in space after which rapidly return to their stationary positions. Nonetheless, I imagine a secondary aim needs to be to encourage and educate younger gamers from 10 to 14, the formative ages, concerning the many sides of event tennis they witness up shut.
Backward scores — Wish to know the rating of the one Grand Slam match Novak Djokovic misplaced this yr? Go to his ‘Participant Exercise’ part on the ATP web site. There you will see that the rating for the Wimbledon last that he misplaced to Carlos Alcaraz proven as: 6-1, 6-7 (6), 1-6, 6-3, 4-6. Attempt to unravel that monstrosity. The rating ought to seem because the much more readable and comprehensible 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Simply as NBA groups don’t lose video games 108-115 or La Liga groups don’t lose contests 2-4, tennis gamers at each stage don’t lose matches 4-6, 5-7. The correct rating — whether or not written or spoken — is 6-4, 7-5.
Lack of element in scoreboards — BJ Miller, an astute tennis observer from Oakland, California, contributed this pet peeve together with the treatment. “Main League Baseball and Nationwide Soccer League’s on-screen scoreboards present a large number of related stats and information. In sharp distinction, tennis’ on-screen scoreboards typically don’t even give the gamers’ final names, solely the primary three letters. They need to present serve speeds, seeding, nationality [not with flags], and, ideally, variety of winners, compelled errors, aces, and unforced errors. The knowledge that often exhibits up on display now could be too sophisticated — 3D charts the place viewers should type out whether or not a participant’s knowledge is by line or column earlier than having the ability to evaluate between gamers, all in too brief a time to even observe the announcer’s clarification. The on-screen scoreboard needs to be within the higher left, not the decrease left nook the place it obscures necessary options of the match.”
Incomplete scores — TV networks that don’t put all the rating throughout a match on the display. As a substitute, they show the variety of units gained by every participant and the sport rating of solely the set in progress. Viewers have to know the total rating to grasp the course and context of the match.
Caps or visors indoors — Moreover wanting foolish indoors, caps and visors present no perform. Mats Wilander additionally identified that baseball caps partly disguise the faces of gamers, citing four-time main champion Iga Swiatek. A part of the attraction of tennis is that we will clearly see the gamers’ feelings, one thing a lot more durable to do in ice hockey and American soccer.
Obsession with participant containers — Is it needed or fascinating for ESPN, Tennis Channel, and different TV networks to show their cameras on participant containers throughout matches so usually? We see the participant’s household and buddies cringe or cheer after factors, particularly massive factors, and their coaches, psychologists, and trainers shout recommendation. However when coach Brad Gilbert talked an excessive amount of through the US Open, champion Coco Gauff mildly criticised him afterwards. Sometimes, members of ‘the staff’ even argue with one another, as have the mother and father of Stefanos Tsitsipas. This cleaning soap opera stuff is attention-grabbing up to some extent, however an excessive amount of will get distracting and annoying.
Obese gamers — I lose curiosity in and respect for gamers who don’t get into and keep in tip-top form. Criticism of obese skilled athletes shouldn’t be ‘physique shaming,’ as some apologists like Zina Garrison declare. It’s justified, and TV tennis commentators ought to do it extra usually with neither worry nor favour.
Tennis commentator’s use of ‘underrated’ to explain a participant or a participant’s stroke — There’s a modicum of plausibility to this overused adjective when gamers are low-ranked, however in any other case, it’s seldom justified. Additionally, the clear implication is that the commentator is the neatest man within the room, and different analysts simply haven’t fairly discovered how glorious this participant or stroke really is. When ESPN analyst Pam Shriver as soon as countered this ‘overrated’ assertion with “Who’s underrating him?” she obtained no reply from her offending colleague, and I needed to say “Hooray!” Shriver was saying what I had been pondering for years.
Sore losers — They by no means give their successful opponent credit score for his or her good and even glorious efficiency. As a substitute, it’s all about them. These sore losers provide you with all method of excuses, from the nasty to the absurd. Serena Williams used to say she performed solely 20 p.c of her capability and that the true Serena didn’t present up. We should always take a look at how 24-time main winner, Novak Djokovic, one of the emotional champions in tennis historical past, graciously handles defeat, regardless of how massive the upset or how prestigious the event.
Distracting chatter by TV tennis commentators — Tennis Channel Plus, the worst offender, makes use of a break up display with one half exhibiting a dwell match and the opposite one exhibiting commentators speaking about all types of tennis trivia, gamers, and occasions—something however the match occurring, which is tough to view anyway as a result of it’s on a half-screen.
Different channels have ‘speaking heads’ who blabber advert nauseam about themselves even when it doesn’t relate to the match and the gamers they’re broadcasting. Early within the TV profession of the late Vitas Gerulaitis, he memorably stated, “Nobody cares what I did 15 years in the past.” A little bit of an overstatement, however the 1977 Australian Open champion had a sound level.
Gamers who rejoice after an opponent hits an unforced error — Like him or detest him, the charismatic Jimmy Connors began fist-pumping 50 years in the past, and right now it’s extra widespread than ever. Usually this celebratory gesture is accompanied by a shout of “Yeah!”
Spaniard Rafael Nadal’s “Vamos!” after a blinding shot added to his mystique as a fierce however sporting fighter.
Nonetheless, fist pumps and yells after an unforced error — whatever the rating — are uncalled for and boorish.
Pre-match mini-interviews — Perfunctory, boring, and uninformative. That describes the two-minute interviews with gamers simply earlier than they enter Heart Court docket for matches at Grand Slam tournaments. Of their futile quest to elicit one thing attention-grabbing, TV interviewers typically ask absurd questions like “What’s your technique right now?” Even essentially the most inexperienced participant gained’t reply that query.
Gamers who say “I’ve nothing to lose” — I’m not a psychologist, however these world-class athletes could also be making an attempt to minimize the strain they really feel as massive underdogs. Regardless of the motive, this pre-match expression defies logic. Upsets — main and minor — happen on daily basis at each stage in tennis. However a participant should embrace the underdog standing — as 18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu did when she gained the 2021 US Open — and never put together for defeat with the nonsense that they don’t have anything to lose. Memo: all of us have a winnable match to lose. So don’t say it and even suppose it.
The ‘home cash’ line — A corollary to the earlier rationalisation is the equally nonsensical declare by TV commentators: “He’s taking part in on home cash now.” Wiktionary defines this expression as “To be in a state of affairs the place little or no private threat might be incurred” and “To behave as if little or no threat might be incurred.” Commentators trot out this logical fallacy when an unheralded participant or a heavy underdog pulls two or extra upsets after which faces a a lot higher-ranked opponent. However, the truth is, these underdogs who’ve growing momentum and confidence not solely have a lot to realize within the coming match but additionally a lot to lose—sometimes a berth within the semifinals or last.
Faking accidents — Gamers who pretend accidents to interrupt their opponent’s momentum and to get relaxation when they’re exhausted after which defend it by saying — “Everybody does it” — when everybody clearly doesn’t. These dangerous guys infuriate opponents, check the goodwill of ATP and WTA physiotherapists, and disappoint event administrators, TV networks, and spectators. Whereas these rascals typically get away with it and win the match, they find yourself dropping the respect of their colleagues.
Pointless replays and challenges — Asking for a replay or difficult a line name that was clearly very far in or out. In 2025, the ATP Tour will use Digital Line Calling Stay — referred to as ELC Stay — for all ‘out’ calls in all matches. Till then, umpires will indulge gamers who exploit the present Participant Problem rule and delay play for no good motive.
Hypersensitive gamers — These infants can cope with the roar of the group throughout high-pressure factors however get bent off form and refuse to play following a changeover as a result of a few spectators manner up on Row 37 within the stadium are unobtrusively returning to their seats. You can’t be severe!
Tanking — What Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, and Benoit Paire have finished on this period and what Marat Safin did 15 years in the past produces greater than peeved reactions. Tanking is outlined as deliberately dropping a match by not making an attempt. Usually, meaning both not operating arduous or in any respect to return pictures, or hitting extraordinarily low-percentage pictures to get the match over with as quick as potential. Tanking is among the worst sins — if not the worst — a event tennis participant can commit. It additionally shortchanges and angers spectators, event administrators, opponents, the media, and sponsors.
ITF sexism — On its web site, The Worldwide Tennis Federation, the world governing physique of the game for its 213 member nations, proudly declares, “The Worldwide Tennis Federation is combating bias and discrimination in opposition to ladies in sport.” If that’s the case, it ought to have a Board of Administrators that displays its various membership.
Denouncing the longtime and worsening management sexism inside ITF management, Judy Murray, the eminent coach and mom of Andy and Jamie, lately stated: “It’s 14 males once more.
It was 14 males once I first observed it again in 2010. And in between time, due to sure folks campaigning, there have been 12 males and two ladies. And the 2 ladies who have been on it have been each former gamers, nice gamers. And it is a world board, and so they got here off it as a result of they weren’t being listened to.”
Look no additional than Pam Shriver, Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Carillo, Leslie Allen, Stacey Allaster, Caroline Wozniacki, and Murray herself. These tremendous seven are greater than certified to serve on the ITF Board of Administrators, and their experience, expertise, and judiciousness would make a profound distinction.
Now that I’ve gotten my peeves about all these human failures and foibles off my chest, I sit up for happier days in 2024.
Then institution bigwigs in all places will present us how open-minded and sensible they’re as they reform our lovely, however imperfect sport.