You Cannot Be Serious!!

The last two weekends I have participated in our local tennis tournaments to fill my competitive void. The Soto Tennis Tournament, actually sponsored by Tennis Warehouse, and the Santa Maria Comcast 31st Open. The highest level in the Soto tourney was A, in which Chris and I joined to win the mixed division relatively easily. It was more of a fun social experience, rather than a competitive one. The Santa Maria Open has always brought in elite players making it one of the more prestigious tournaments on the Central Coast. Most of the Men’s Open consists of world ranked players, as the Women’s Open attracts former and current highly ranked Division I university players.

I entered Women’s Open Singles along with Mixed Open Doubles with Chris. The results were not pretty. In singles I made it through the Round of 32 relatively easy, but then got owned in the Round of 16 to the second seed, 1-6, 1-6. In Mixed, we got dominated in the first round, 1-8. Both of the losses in singles and doubles were to young players from Cal Poly, our local Division I University. What have I learned from this experience? It’s clearly obvious our 40-minute hitting sessions for 3 days a week (at most) are not up to par with players whose occupation is strictly the game of tennis. I’m still relatively confident in doubles, but in singles there’s much more I have to do to make it past 2nd round.

Now that I’ve wrapped up my recent tournament experiences, I would like to touch base on the topic of conversation during the weekend of watching these elite players. ATTITUDE. One more time? ATTITUDE! Yes, these players are world ranked players, but does that mean you can act like John McEnroe on the court? In my opinion, hold yourself with an honorable attitude on and off the court.

For example, a player conducted himself in an awful manner when he thought his serve was in and a college player called it out. He raged by yelling profanities and insulting the college player, asking him if he’d even seen a serve that fast or if that’s how they do it in college now. Yelling “SHUT UP” to the crowd because of the way the others cheered for the opponent is a poor approach, even if the cheers were at improper times. I didn’t see Haas yell at the SAMURAI who were shirtless and banging a bongo drum when I was in the crowd at the LA Open.

One complaint after another came from another player who insulted the facility by screaming, “Resurface your courts,” while continuing to bicker with the umpire about it. He even asked the lines judge if he was mentally capable of seeing lines. Trust me, the courts are good. Another player left the court to get the tennis ball he hit through the fence out of anger, then while outside the court, he threw his racquet a good 25 feet into the bushes, making his opponent wait to start the next game.

These examples are of the world ranked ATP players who seem to have an Alpha Male syndrome. It’s rare that I see such potty-mouthed insults from Open level women yelling such things at their opponents. Do you believe women hold themselves in a more proper manner, considering it’s known as the game of gentlemen?

Nevertheless, it was a good experience and great weekend for tennis. Let me know your thoughts on how players should carry themselves on the court and if you’ve seen any such acts of un-gentlemanly conduct.

Peace Sign,


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2 thoughts on “You Cannot Be Serious!!

  1. Great post!

    The behaviour you described from the men does sound despicable; however, it sounds no different from what you would expect from the majority of male athletes playing most other sports. Equipment gets abused, officials get berated, opponents are insulted, crowds receive rude gestures, etc. Combine the heat of competition, frustration, and all that testosterone and you have one volatile cocktail. The history of tennis as a regal sport makes such behaviour all the more appalling, but in the context of modern sports tennis is not much different from other sports, where such behaviour has become the norm and tolerated (to a certain extent).

    By no means should this behaviour be accepted, regardless of sport, competitive level, or even gender; however, as long as top level athletes continue to act out without repercussion from authority, the same repulsive behaviour will be perpetuated throughout the sport. While the problem is less prevalent in female sports, it is becoming more common as the gap between male and female sports narrows. For recent examples, look at the WNBA brawl, the hockey melee between Canada and Sweden, and of course, the events that transpired last night at the US Open.

    I don’t think that we’ll ever see this behaviour removed from sports, in general – at least not as long as we are taught that winning is more important than good sportsmanship.

  2. Brendan, I completely agree with you. Athletes are filled with so much competitive fire that it can lead to an explosion of emotional anger or victorious glee. I have to admit profanity goes hand-in-hand with my frustration, but during tournaments I try to hold back the swears to conduct myself in a more “proper” manner than I normally would in practice. I absolutely admire players who are humble and applaud their sportsmanlike conduct on the court, and hope that others view me like that as well during serious competition.

    Nevertheless, different characters are what make watching sports exciting as they interact with one another. Uncontrollable outbursts will never be removed from sports, and hopefully not as they distinguish one athlete from the other. As much as we say their acts shouldn’t be tolerated, we can’t seem to get enough of it. The only repercussion will be the fines.

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