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Brothers of Briar

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Zeno Marx

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Anyone here happen to love, play, and/or be into tennis?

I grew up in an odd situation. Farm town in the middle of the country with an abandoned private college that left behind beautiful old buildings and a set of picturesque tennis courts surrounded by giant old trees. Our high school also had a set of asphalt tennis courts, so we had more tennis courts than the rest of the county and all the surrounding counties combined. It was also at the height of McEnroe/Borg and Evert/Navratilova. In other words, when tennis was still on the mind of the mainstream, when a major tournement's men's final wasn't bumped by a re-run of Judge Judy and only found on ESPN's second or third channel.

I love tennis for a variety of reasons. As an aging person, I've come to realize one of the greatest things about tennis is that it is something you can play at 8 years old or 78 years old. You only need one other person. It's relatively inexpensive to play. It's a great workout for both mind and body. It has a small environmental footprint compared to other sports you can readily play in older years. And now, something even I'm surprised that I value: decorum. It's a sport where fans are still respectful of the traditions, the players, and the situation. If you watch the audience, you don't see a sea of human beings watching the game through the lens of their phones. They aren't slamming beers and spending more time going to the bathroom than they are watching the competition. People are quiet. As heated as the patriotism can be (the thing I like least about the sport), there's still: decorum.

The worst part of the game, other than the patriotism, is the towel. The towel and the neuroses. The reason a match can be five hours long is because they're reaching for a towel after every point. In-between points can be as long as a minute. It's something baseball battles as well with pitchers and batters farting around in-between each pitch. It's all psychological weakness and manipulation at the expense of the game.

The women's game, in my belief, has the finest set of analysts and commentators in all of sports. I do not exaggerate.

The worst commentators are McEnroe and Evert. I didn't think I'd ever say that, because as a kid, I was a very big fan of McEnroe.

So, what says you? Anyone?
 

Richard Burley

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I'm not "into" it exactly, but tennis singles is the only sport I can watch for more than five minutes. Call me a commie faggot, but I don't care for team sports at all.  :bball:
 

Hermit

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I love tennis. The Ladies Aussie Open final was a terrific match today.
Looking forward to Federer winning Slam No. 20 tomorrow. :cheers:
(Disagree about McEnroe, though. Both of em are my
favorite commentators along with Cliff Drysdale.)
 

Zeno Marx

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Hermit":ywifh2hf said:
I love tennis. The Ladies Aussie Open final was a terrific match today.
Halep is a tough bugger. Wish she could have been healthy for the match. It helped with the drama, but it also created a clusterfuck. I appreciated her heart. No doubt. I wish it could have been more "pure" of a competition though. Her physical health and battling. Wozniacki trying to navigate it. It was good TV, but I wish it could have been different. Not necessarily with different results, but you know.

ps- in my original post, I used patriotism when it would have been more appropriate to have used nationalism
 

Zeno Marx

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The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sets of the men's final were fine indeed. The first set was a gimme to Federer, and the final set was anticlimactic. Appreciated that it went five sets but was also less than four hours. That can't happen with most pairings. It's either one or both who fart around in-between every point. Nadal is the worst. Murray is like a child and constantly needs to squawk, or to be coddled, by his box. It's a weakness that I do not respect in either men or women. Like they talked about during the broadcast, one of the greatest aspects of Federer is his cognitive ability to recognize, and then to alter, his game. He does this on his own, on the court, by himself. Sure, he has a bigger set of tools than most, but like a chess player, he's mindful of what is happening in himself, in his opponent, in the energy of the room, etc. He's playing many hands at all time. He's brilliant like that.

Cilic was hitting him off the court. Pure power. The thing about that is, that when you have to hit that hard to win, you usually cannot maintain that for an entire match, which is what we watched in this match. The moment your timing is off just a smidge, that tactic is finished. You're back to your regular game, and Cilic's regular game cannot match Federer.

I was in utter, complete amazement of Federer's half-volley ability. He was immortal in that regard in the third set. Not human. It's part of how he plays, and NOT part of how most everyone else in the history of tennis plays (because it is a f*cking hard thing to do for even professionals), but that aside, he is the greatest half-volleyer in the history of tennis as far as I'm concerned. Nobody else can consistently control, and with precision and/or returned power, a half-volley that was cracked at them at 100+mph...and off both sides. And...AND...because his hands are so good, he can play another step inside the court, making a lot of these half-volleys happen behind him by a bit. He's actually half-volleying behind himself and reaching back a tad. You can't teach that. That third set was liking watching the finest ballet. Art. Period.
 

Zeno Marx

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One of the silver linings of C-19, and the way tennis handled it, is that the players no longer use their towels like woobies (in the child dependency sense), going to them after every point, making matches last even longer and manipulating the time. Before C-19, they had time clocks, but the bigger names, like Nadal, fought back and basically negated their purpose of quickening the games. I think it was 25 seconds AFTER the umpire read the score. The umpires didn't want the wrath of either the big players or the big player fans, so it wasn't a rush to read that score. They all found ways to fudge the clock's positive consequence. It could have been 45 seconds in-between points. Just ridiculous. I've always hated the towel thing. Wiping off after every point clearly highlighted a psychological dependence and gathering your wits. Not to mention these ball kids handling these sweat-soaked towels after every point.

But now with C-19 protocol, the players have to handle their own towels and can't have the ball kids racing around the court after every point, handing them their towel, waiting for them to finish with the towel, and then go put it back. The result: the players don't waste energy walking back and forth to the towel, no longer having that woobie to depend on to calm their nerves and snatching a few seconds. The game is quicker, and they're learning to not need that crutch.

Now, if baseball can only figure out how to get the pitchers to get on the mound, and for the batters to not have to re-adjust their gloves, their batting gadgets on their fingers, re-adjust their helmets, and farting around in the batter's box after every single pitch. They have more crap on their hands and arms to adjust than football linemen. Drives me nuts after an inning or two.
 

Zeno Marx

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Check out the Aussie Open. Stands are full. No one is wearing masks.
You mean Wimbledon right now? The Australian Open was in February, and I think Australia is today in another strict lock down.
 

RSteve

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I played tennis into my 20s, then I rarely had anyone to play against. I'd played table tennis at the nationally competitive level through college. I had "ball sense" but was unable to play the power tennis game that people wanted to play, I played dink and dunk tennis with forespin and backspin. Opponents would get pissed off and yell at me to "iust hit the f***ing ball." Later in life, it's how I played racquetball. Near my house, there are a couple of tennis courts where most mornings I see old farts playing pickleball. (I guess pickleball is like playing table tennis with a racquetball racquet on a tennis court.
 

Ranger107

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Played tennis in HS and into college. Was on an intramurals team for a couple of years. Considered going pro but not quite good enough. Because of my strength had a monster serve and aced a lot on my first serve if I got it in. Kept playing well up into my late 30s. Pickle ball is very popular around here with the senior crowd, in fact they are building an indoor pickle ball court over in Prescott Valley with juice bar and other amenities. Might just have to try it, lol.
 

Zeno Marx

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I love racket sports. You name it, I'd enjoy playing it. The squash stroke is a very popular thing in tennis. Matter of fact, it is Ash Barty's primary forehand, and she's #1 in the world. For those who don't know what that is, it's a swatting motion with extreme back and side spin that is struck with considerable speed and flies close to the net considering the spin. It's not a looping ball with backspin or a dropshot with back spin.

In physical education in high school, the teacher ran out of things for us to do on rainy days. We had a decent equipment room, and he dug out the badminton sets we could use on the three volleyball courts. It turned out to be very popular and highly competitive. The guys who wouldn't go near a tennis court fell in love with badminton, like the football players and tall basketball players. Such a great sport, really. We Americans think of it as a goof off game in the backyard on Independence Day, but to play on a hard surface with sneakers is great fun. I liked it so much that I bought my own badminton racket. We set up tournaments outside of class and played it during study halls when possible.

Southeast Asians love their racket sports, as do I believe the Europeans like squash and handball. Ping Pong. Badminton. Tennis. Racquetball. I'll have to look up pickle ball. I don't know that name.
 

RSteve

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When I was an undergraduate, just for fun, I took a one credit course that was table tennis for six weeks, then badminton for six weeks. (UMN was on the quarter, not semester system.) During the first six weeks, I smoked everyone during table tennis. During the six weeks of badminton, I stunk out the gym.
 

Ranger107

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I had a sneaky technique back when I was younger and pretty good. Couple of strong forehands back to the line, the a dribble top spin just clearing the net. When my opponent would run up to the net to get it I would move forward and smash it hard as I could right for their midsection. Most could not move fast enough to get out of the way or if they did it was a pop up allowing me to smash the next one to a back corner.
 

Zeno Marx

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If you've been following men's tennis lately, Carlos Alcaraz Garfia is likely to be the next dominant player. He's a mouth-breathing, physically mature for his age, exceptionally athletic anomaly of the Extreme Sports era in which we now exist. He has an intuitive, almost robot-like, understanding of the game, so like his body, he's surprisingly mature in regards to recognizing situations and then adapting. If when you were young you had the good, or bad, fortune to play with someone far beyond your intuitions for a game, you have to be impressed with the mind of this young man. Some people just get a game. Some people intuitively, instinctually understand the workings of a game. Most do not. For most, it takes experience and intentional focus to get the feel for a game. Even most of the professionals don't understand the game they're playing like the exceptional players do. You can really see this flushed out in the women's game. Most of the women cannot adapt, even the no.1 players. Iga Świątek is the first to come along in a while who understands the inner workings of the game and her opponents. Ashleigh Barty was OK at it, but nothing like the Federers and Nadals of the sport. It's one of the ways I don't appreciate women's tennis like I do men's tennis. I sense it has a lot to do with how they're developed at a young age and how they train. If you watch tennis, Pam Shriver, Martina Navratilova, Mary Jo Fernandez, et al even come down on the women in this regard. Depending on their player's box for coaching (which is also breaking the rules) too much and not being able to understand their opponent on their own.

Anyway...sorry for the diatribe and getting off track. I personally don't like this era of Extreme Sports athlete. They can do wonders with their bodies and have clearly been highly groomed since an early age, but their playing often feels soulless and literally like a product of perfect training and strict formation of a human being. They seem factory made. Alcaraz feels like that for me. When I watch Theim, Tsistipas, or Zverev, I feel like I'm watching a flawed, yet great athlete at play. I need that when I'm watching sports.
 

Blackhorse

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Hmmm. When I watch Federer, Djokovic or Nadal I get no hint whatever of the soulless tennis automaton thing. By contrast I feel privileged to have been a fan during their reign. Especially Nadal who exhibits more passion than any whole team of players in any other sport.

PS: re McEnroe…which one don’t you like…John or Patrick? To each his own. I think John is one of the best and certainly the most knowledgeable commentators in ANY sport. If you put him and Martina Navratilova side by side in the sports booth it’s as good as it can get IMHO.

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Zeno Marx

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Hmmm. When I watch Federer, Djokovic or Nadal I get no hint whatever of the soulless tennis automaton thing. By contrast I feel privileged to have been a fan during their reign. Especially Nadal who exhibits more passion than any whole team of players in any other sport.
Exactly right. Apologies if I was unclear. The new guys, like this super athlete Alcaraz, are who I meant. Federer, Djokovic or Nadal are all pre-Extreme sports guys in my mind. Same goes for Theim, Tsistipas, or Zverev. Really, Alcaraz is the first one I've noticed in tennis. This Extreme Sports thing is a my deal thing. It's nothing official. When things like skateboarding went from the streets and backyards to Nike making skateboards, Mountain Dew and Red Bull sponsoring every board-related event, etc. Obviously unrelated to tennis, but a mark in the sand where even subculture sports became huge money machines. I think sports have changed a few times in my lifetime. Free agency. Parents grooming children in grade school. Extreme sports.
 

Zeno Marx

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Talk about ridiculous...

So, Perrier is one of the major corporate sponsors of the French Open. No drinks not in a Perrier container can come on the court. None. Most of the pros bring in several kinds of liquids for matches. Sports drinks. Vitamin drinks. Mineral drinks. All kinds of dietary concoctions besides water. During the Djokovic/Nadal match, Djokovic ordered one of his drinks (probably a re-supply), which has to go through the umpire to get sent onto his team. Not for entirely clear reasons, Djokovic was arguing with the umpire over having to transfer his drink(s) into Perrier bottles? Either it wasn't going to be possible, or maybe it was going to take extra time? There was some conflict happening there.

I'm a little OCD (a lot OCD), and I would NOT like people touching my drinks and adding all this extra handling into other bottles. And if you remember, Djokovic is an anti-vaccine guy. I'm guessing he would only want his team handling his liquids. Who knows what the issue was, but to not even be able to bring in blank bottles or an unbranded thermos? Screw that kind of corporate control. Is this a tennis tournament or a commercial? Forcing players who have no affiliation with a company to have to advertise for them?
 
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