By playing a local tournament or two lately I have realised that tennis is not in fact an environment that I am totally comfortable with anymore, due to more than one reason. The book I put together last year included a post called 'The Pigeon' which highlighted my thoughts on players who puffed their chests out at tennis tournaments which resembled our feathered friend, the pigeon.
My reasons for playing those last two tennis tournaments of the season locally were simple, I wanted to see if anything had changed over the years. Without going into it too much it's like this, every few years I get an 'itch' so to speak and I dust off the rackets and give it a go against the youth of the game and I still find that part of the sport educational as a writer as well as coach of the sport.
What does interest me greatly is the lack of education that spectators of the sport own, or don't own to be more precise. I see that nothing changes over the years as far as etiquette is concerned and I suppose it never will but I must admit that this lack of education can in fact be something to make you play better.
Take for example this; I am in the middle of a tough match in the final competition of the season in singles and my opponent hits a solid return but straight to me, I miss the backhand, an unforced error to be more precise.
A 'peanut' from the 'peanut gallery' claps and says 'great shot........'
I think to myself, that comment comes from someone who knows nothing about tennis, they may as well clap a double fault, that too is an unforced error. If someone hits an outright winner then I believe that this perhaps is worth a clap and 'great shot', until then, well just keep a lid on your actions as a spectator please.
This went on a bit during the match however I must be mellowing because my old self would have walked to the back of the fence and explained court etiquette to them but now days I love it when someone gives me the shits from the spectator seats, it just makes me dig in more and refuse to lose.
After winning the last 3 games of the match I noticed that the peanut gallery was rather quiet, that's how you do it buddy, ignore it, be big enough to use it as a spur to make you get over the line and nothing else.
I saw the highlights of the Kyrgios/ Federer match in Miami and that was a complete joke the way the crowd turned on Nick but that again is an uneducated crowd who have a favourite and will look at any way to put the opposition off their game.
It's nothing new but it can be disheartening as a player because you are trying your guts out though you are not viewed upon as anything but the enemy and you are treated 'accordingly'.
I have stated on more than one occasion that 'peanut galleries' are part of tennis tournaments as much as strawberries and ice cream at Wimbledon. Some hang off the fence, many are obsessed with the score rather than watching the match themselves and keeping count of who is actually winning or losing and many love to clap your mistakes. Each to their own I suppose.
Personally I have hung up my rackets for this season, I played and won the last two events of the season, a doubles and a singles event, albeit as a 48 year old 'Dinosaur' of the sport who has no right to beat the youth of the game with just a forehand and a desire to still achieve.
Yet that's what I did, I achieved something this season and tennis is like that, it's a sport where your ability to solve a problem or two on a tennis court can go a long way to helping you get through some sticky situations in life also.
Tennis is a sport that hands you a puzzle, a messy puzzle, a jigsaw of sorts, it's a sport that will never hand you the answers on a piece of paper, it's all in your head as to how the match can be deciphered and only your mind can solve the puzzle.
As I age in tennis I look for things, just little things that can help put the jig saw together and it's funny but I love it when the people behind the court don't want you to win and make a point of letting you know that they have no time for any ability that you may own.
As you walk off the court give 'em a big cheesy grin and a wink, you know you put the jigsaw together with a minimum of fuss and without complicating it all by mouthing off at their uneducated ways.
There are ways to get even in tennis with a spectator or two who own a brain the size of a hamster's wedding tackle, simply win, that usually shuts 'em up......