Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let's Talk Tennis: Part One of Many

Desert Island Top Five Things I like About The Game of Tennis
5) Wimbledon Whites.
4) The very polite etiquette between players.
3) My future husband, James Blake.
2.5) Those tennis players are foxy.
2) I like how a player can go from defence to offence in one shot and vice versa.
1) It is a bonding thing with mumsy, during the summer months we get herbs ready to freeze while watching tennis.

Warning: The following blog post contains rambling of an inane nature about no one knows what. Read at your own risk.

The Brisbane tournament ended today with the men's final between Stepenek and Verdasco. Stepenek has this technique to unsettle his opponent which pretty much involves getting all up in his grill. This is done by shouting either before or after he has hit the ball (so not being vocal with effort from the hit a la Sharapova - don't get me started on her), walking into them as they cross each other's paths after games, I saw him twice put his opponent on the spot to say whether his ball was out or not, and directing his celeboratory shouts/punches/trots/dancemoves of glee directly at his opponent instead of at himself, his coaching box, or his fans.

Today the commentators were in disagreement about whether this went against the rules of etiquette or the rules of tennis. It is a tactic that works and despite the fact that Stepenek won't be winning any locker room friends he is disrupting the other player enough to win the match. Which isn't to say that Stepenek isn't a skilled player - he clearly is - but is he playing dirty? And does it matter?

One of the things that makes tennis so interesting is that once the players are on the court they're on their own which makes it as much of a mental game as it does a physical game (er maybe?). I found myself wishing that the umpire would step in and tell Stepenek to check his antics a bit (okay a lot the man bugs and I wanted him crushed...); in my mind he had crossed some line from having poor etiquette to breaking the rules. The line for me is fuzzy, but pumping your first and screaming after winning a point when done for one's self seems totally fine but looking at the other player and making sure they are witnessing your antics seems like poor form.

The truth is that is the same rule I follow in real life. If someone is just being themselves I try so hard to not let it annoy me because they can't be anyone else but themselves, however when they start doing things specifically and purposefully to get on my nerves there shall be wrath.

It's the difference between Stepenek being all up in someone's grill to manipulate their mental game and Nadal being himself and picking his wedgie (which he should stop doing and consider different undies...just saying).

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