Sunday, July 4, 2021

Top-10 annoyances in pro tennis revealed

Petr Korda, left, and his son, Sebastian, chat during the 2017 Stockton
(Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   During a stand-up routine in Sacramento, Calif., a few years ago, Jerry Seinfeld had a great transition.
   "What else is bothering me ... besides everything?"
   I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way. Not coincidentally, Seinfeld and I are about the same age.
   Following are my top-10 annoyances in professional tennis. They make you want to:
   a. Gnash your teeth.
   b. Tear your hair out.
   c. Throw a brick through the TV.
   d. All of the above.
   This will be very therapeutic — and much cheaper than seeing a psychologist. I'll leave leaf blowers and everything else for another day.
   10. Ugly outfits — Serena Williams always has to be the center of attention, so she wears weird stuff like one long pant leg/sleeve and one short one. Then there's Alexander Zverev and his sleeveless shirts. He looks like he just got back from the beach. Memo to players: Show some class, like Roger Federer. You don't see him wearing goofball outfits.
   9. Enough, already  Can we get through one match without a commentator mentioning "the finish line"? While we're at it, let's retire "on the trot" (consecutive) and "overcook" (overhit). 
   8. Relax, Tom — When ultra-serious, melodramatic ESPN commentator Tom Rinaldi comes on the air, I immediately hit the mute button. Hey, Tom, it's only a tennis match, not nuclear arms limitation talks. 
   7. BFF — TV commentators are supposed to be impartial journalists, not players' besties. So they shouldn't refer to "Ash" (Ashleigh Barty), "Angie" (Angelique Kerber), "Jen" (Jennifer Brady) and "Sascha" (Zverev). Last names will suffice, thank you very much.
   6. Hear no evil ... — Funny how you never hear about domestic abuse allegations against Zverev, which he denies, during his matches or about Petr Korda's doping suspension. That would ruin the feel-good narratives of their athletic families. It's also bad reporting. Instead, we get gushing from the likes of Paul Annacone. For him, everyone and everything is "incredible" and "amazing." 
   5. On-court coaching — In a transparent effort to boost TV ratings/revenue, the WTA instituted this travesty in 2008. Fans supposedly want to hear coaches' advice during matches, so let's destroy one of tennis' foundations — that players must solve problems themselves. It also makes female players look helpless. Thankfully, the ATP and ITF have resisted this ridiculous PR ploy.
   4. Medical timeouts — The scene is all too familiar. The trainer spreads a towel on the court, the player lies on his/her stomach, and the trainer contorts the player's legs or massages his/her back. What a joke. If a player is in obvious distress, that's one thing, but these physical therapy appointments during matches must stop. Either you can play, or you can't. 
   3. Match tiebreakers — Why not just flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors to determine the winner? Match tiebreakers also send a message that doubles doesn't matter. Just get the hell off the court.
   2. Softball interview "questions" — For starters, get the clueless PR flacks off the court. And how about giving former players some journalism training? Lesson No. 1: Ask specific questions ("Talk about ... " and "Take me through ... " are not questions). And let's ban pre-match interviews, another bogus PR ploy. In addition to being rude and intrusive, they never reveal anything.
   To be fair, tennis is blessed with many outstanding players-turned-commentators, including Jim Courier, Martina Navratilova, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill, Mary Carillo, Brad Gilbert, Pam Shriver, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Mary Joe Fernandez, Rennae Stubbs and Jason Goodall. 
   1. Constant commercials — Are the insurance companies competing for most inane ad? Exception: The Progressive beach commercial is hilarious.

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