Saturday, 22 October 2016
What do you think goes through the mind of a 50 plus seasoned tennis addict on his way to the 'hallowed' courts that forge his reputation locally and that gives him his weekly shot of adrenalin that makes him walk tall on Monday morning after being undefeated in his 5 or 6 sets that he plays as though his life depends on it ?
What goes through the mind of a kid as he walks through the gate the first time at his local singles tournament after doing 'everything possible' in his training routine which included around three hours per week of 'high quality' training that he believed would put him in good stead to take home the title ?
What of the Challenger Circuit player who put in 33 hours training the week prior to an event which would ultimately decide whether or not he slept on the floor in a foyer of a motel or in the 'luxury' of an apartment that owned a bed with springs in it ?
What of the number 100 ranked pro in the World who may just own a two handed backhand that looks just as good as the guy ranked World number 20 yet doesn't quite own enough 'grey matter' to take home a weekly pay cheque that some people take a year to earn ?
What of guys like Jimmy Connors who won over 100 tour singles titles and now simply cannot rest at night until he makes one last great decision which may just include a coaching gig with a very loud Aussie in need of a mentor who knows the game better than he perhaps ever will ?
What is it about the sport of tennis that makes even a current World number 1 smash his racket into that many pieces it now resembles something that went through a tree lopping process plant ?
Would it be that tennis is a sport that has such an air of importance about it that it consumes that starry-eyed kid or the 50 plus club competitor, the Challenger circuit player or the guy ranked 100 in the World to such an extent that it can become that way of life that I described once as that surfer looking for that perfect wave ? Absolutely.
Tennis is indeed that type of sport because it is one that tests the mind from the moment that kid picks up that racket and starts hitting on that brick wall to the day that Jimmy Connors decides that he still has unfinished business in the game despite a record that will surely never be beaten no matter who comes along in the years ahead.
Tennis is a sport that unfortunately for some is like a drug addict who first has a hit then decides that the feeling is way too good to simply palm it off as something that he can do without. Tennis is something that is so ridiculously addictive that not playing on a Saturday afternoon in 'sleepy hollow' because the weather has not been kind drives a player insane because he is in need of that 'hit' of adrenalin that golf simply won't do for him. Why ?
Because there is too much time spent between golf shots talking about wives, girlfriends, drinking and punting that could be spent being involved in the 'year's best club tennis rally' that draws murmurs from the crowd at the sheer magnitude of the technical brilliance put on show for all in sleepy hollow to witness.
Tennis is something that personally I have tried to forget over the years for one reason or another yet lucky for me I still own a couple of mates who still want to have the occasional hit and even though I curse them on my reply from my text I do so with a wry smile because deep down I know that I am going to still give it my best shot despite a dicky wrist and a knee that limps more now days than walks with importance.
So tomorrow morning on my drive to the local tennis club I will be in 'battle mode' as I go through the suitcase in my mind searching for shots that used to get me the occasional win here and there and the odd topspin lob that for some silly reason will still go down as my favourite shot. Why ? Because it confuses the opposition, that's why, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching two opponents in doubles looking at each other and asking the question " Wasn't that yours " ? !
That's what tennis is all about, finding a way to out think the opposition down the other end.
Every player has their own personal way of hitting a ball, their own set of tactics that will not change despite their doubles partner getting in their ear and telling them that sitting on the baseline while they go to the net really does defeat the purpose of the 'net attack' in the two on two format.
Now that's what makes the sport so unique, we are all born with our own silly quirks that we are happy with despite whether anyone else is and it's why we keep playing and it's why Jimmy Connors wants to mentor Nick Kyrgios because it's an almighty challenge just like trying to win 5 or 6 sets on Saturday afternoon at the local.
Silly sport tennis..........