Believe it or not- another column dissing tennis from a columnist who is uninformed

Clara Bow
06-01-2004, 08:42 PM
Bah...why am I surprised any more. From the Kansas City Star :

Bring back the wood rackets


Every year, sadly, the French Open reaches me later and later. Last year, for instance, I did not think about the French Open until September. “Hey, who won the French Open this year?” I asked a friend, a fellow tennis fan.
“That guy, right?”

“Yeah. Right. That guy.”

This really makes me sad because I love tennis. It is the one sport I still play competently as an adult (I hit a 100-mph serve at a tennis event once and have the documentation to prove it). I grew up watching the game, and I knew them all — Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Vilas, Wilander, Tanner, Evert, Austin, Navratilova. You didn't need first names then. Carling Bassett (the Anna Kournikova of her time) was my first sports crush. Tim Wilkison (Dr. Dirt!) was my first big interview.

This year, I have not watched a single point of the French Open. I keep meaning to watch, but I never do. Tennis hasn't died for me so much as it has faded out of my life, like my best friend in college. I keep meaning to call him, too.

The question is: Why has tennis fallen out of our lives? Oh sure, I know there are still some big tennis fans out there — many of them right now are compiling e-mails listing off the fine attributes of Guillermo Coria — but most people I know seem to feel the same way about tennis. It used to be pretty interesting. It used to be fun. But now, you can't name anyone in the top five (“Is Agassi still in there?”), and you never think about the game except when reminiscing. It's like tennis is just an old, worn-out fad, like Rubik's Cubes, Pac-Man, “The Jeffersons” or Pearl Jam.

But why? I've written before that it's because tennis lacks interesting stars, the equipment is too advanced, the schedule is too confusing, the marketing has been awful, many players come across as arrogant and yet, at the same time, obnoxious. Every sport needs someone you can despise, but it's hard to make a go when you despise the guys on both side of the net.

Saturday, though, I realized that it might be something else. I talked with Larry Rochelle, an English professor at Johnson County Community College and the author of the Palmer Morel mystery series. Palmer Morel (named after Larry's father, Palmer Rochelle, a longtime doubles champ and factor worker in Toledo) is a fictional tennis pro who travels the country, gets lucky a lot and somehow gets himself in the middle of bizarre mysteries. George Clooney could play him in the movies. In his next adventure, Cracked Crystals — coming out in August — Palmer gives lessons on The Plaza tennis courts and finds himself in a story involving crystal meth, female tennis twins (“You've got to have twins,” Larry says) and a militia group in St. Mary's, Kan.

For marketing purposes, I thought he should have called it The Da Vinci Serve. Anyway, Larry loves tennis, has played it all his life. And we talked about the fun days of tennis, back when he took his old Jack Kramer wood racket with the fat tennis strings (“The racket would break before the strings back then,” he said) and found two dirty tennis balls and a brick wall and just smacked a ball against that wall for hours. I remember doing that myself.
“It's very hard to find tennis walls for kids these days,” Larry said. “Sometimes you see those wimpy wooden walls, but those aren't any good at all.”

We talked about how much fun it was to watch Jimmy Connors hit with his old T-2000, which had a racket head about the size of Canadian penny. We talked about how great it was seeing Chris Evert and Tracy Austin play those long, long, long points that kept going until one of them finally just said, “OK, enough already. I'm pooped.”

“You know, I was watching women's softball on TV the other day,” Larry said. “And the pitcher was throwing 60 mph or whatever, and she was standing, what, 4 feet away from home plate? That must be what it's like in tennis now. It's just so fast and the players hit the ball so hard and they move so fast….”

And that's when it hit me. This is exactly why I don't keep up with tennis anymore. It isn't because the tennis is worse. No, in fact it's the opposite. The players are too good. It's like they've outgrown the sport. They all smash 130-mph serves, they all hit rocket forehands down the line, they all hit laser backhands crosscourt, they all bounce from side to side like the ball in the old game of Pong. It's impressive. But it's all the same.
Watching tennis now is like watching a great magic show in Vegas or seeing a chef cut a cucumber into 1,293 slices in 0.0003 seconds. You watch, are duly impressed, and you move on. You ooh. You ahh. But you don't go to see the same show tomorrow.

“No, it isn't the same as it used to be, is it?” Larry Rochelle says. In his Palmer Morel mysteries, Palmer does use an old Jack Kramer racket. Maybe it would be fun again if they had a tournament where the best players in the world used the old wood rackets. Maybe that would make tennis feel more real again.

Then again, I don't know. It's hard to recapture an old feeling. Larry said he watched Venus Williams play Mary Pierce on television Saturday, and he said it was pretty decent tennis. Maybe I'll watch the highlights later. Probably not, though.

To reach Joe Posnanski, columnist for The Star, call (816) 234-4361 or send e-mail to

Chloe le Bopper
06-01-2004, 08:51 PM
I really wish that these columnists, who average age 800, would stop writing about how they "used to" follow tennis, and "what has happened". If you would, you know, accept that your youth has passed you by and Rod Laver isnt' in his prime anymore, turned on the TV and learned about these guys, you'd know what was going on. Fucktard.

It never gets boring insulting these dinosaurs. Or fetuses as the case may occasionally be.

06-01-2004, 09:02 PM
Is because there isnt a GREAT american player on tour nowadays, only roddick but he isnt so big as it was sampras or agassi. it seems this man/woman doesnt like that other countries are having great players.

Winston's Human
06-01-2004, 09:02 PM
I really wish that these columnists, who average age 800, would stop writing about how they "used to" follow tennis, and "what has happened". If you would, you know, accept that your youth has passed you by and Rod Laver isnt' in his prime anymore, turned on the TV and learned about these guys, you'd know what was going on. Fucktard.

It never gets boring insulting these dinosaurs. Or fetuses as the case may occasionally be.

Well said!!!

I get so tired of these boomers whining about how everything today is not as great as their hey day.

06-01-2004, 09:18 PM
Tennis has never been healthier :D STFU stupid old man :smash:

Clara Bow
06-01-2004, 09:33 PM
It's not like I'm at work and have stuff to do. I will get fired one of these days. But here is the email I sent to Joe. I got an autoreply that says he reads all emails, so maybe there will be a response.

Dear Mr. Joe Posnanski,

It was with interest that I read your 5/30/04 column “Bring Back Wood Rackets,” which was reprinted today (6/1/04) in my local newspaper, The Austin American Statesman.

I am one of those rare tennis fans that you refer to in your article. I am saddened that you are so quick to dismiss what can still be a very exciting sport while at the same time you admit to not even watching any matches upon which to base your assessment. I highly recommend you watch some of the matches at this year’s French Open before you automatically declare them to be likely boring.

Believe it or not, not all of the players play the same type of game and not all of them are “arrogant” or “obnoxious” but many are in fact very “interesting.” For every Roddick who is more of an energetic power player with the fast serve, there is a Guillermo Coria who is short and can reach anywhere on the court. Roger Federer, the world’s number 1, has a finesse game with exquisite groundstrokes and is hardly plays the “same” type of game as everyone else. Moreover, the French Open is played on clay courts, a slower surface which is not conducive to the speedy serve and return game that you describe in your column but rather creates a style of play that is characterized by longer points and thoughtful shots.

There have been many exciting matches at the French Open this year, two of which featured Marat Safin, perhaps one of the most entertaining figures in all of sport. During his exciting five-set win against Felix Mantilla he dropped his shorts and mooned the audience after winning one of the greatest points of the tournament so far. Two matches later, during his 4 set loss against Argentine David Nalbandian, Safin played through 11 oozing blisters on his hand. That same match saw Nalbandian execute numerous exquisite drop shots.

There are many great tennis personalities out there, including the multi-lingual Roger Federer, who is always pleasant in press conferences but still reveals a funny dry with in what ever language he is speaking. Another tennis personality that you should get to know is the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, three time French Open Champion. Kuerten has an amiable personality that is as effervescent as a soda pop and he is well known for his big heart, charity work, and dedication to his brother with cerebral palsy. He is recovering form a long-standing hip injury to become one o f the best stories of the Open as he has just reached the Quarterfinals.

Just because tennis may have changed from earlier decades does not mean that the change is necessarily for the worse. There can still be excitement, and sometimes the changes in technology can bring a new kind of excitement. Mr. Posnanski, I urge you to give tennis another try. I imagine that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Thank you for your time,

06-01-2004, 09:58 PM
Now what :rolleyes: ? Just because the game evolves and he doesn't.

The players are too good therefore it's no fun, huh, that's a new one.

Or would it be because his boss asks him to write a French Open article but he's too old to name today's players nor does he know anything about them, so he just opts to write about the good old days.

Tennis Fool
06-01-2004, 10:14 PM
It's not about wooden racquets, they want Americans with bad attitudes to dominate, ala Mac and Connors. That's only how they came to know Borg and Becker anyhow.

If Marat can get into the semis of majors, I'm sure he'll be adopted as the new American, even if he ain't.

i love paradorn
06-01-2004, 10:20 PM
If you guys want to see what Joe Posnanski looks like, tune in to ESPN's "Around the Horn." He occasionally makes an appearance there. Although he isn't 800, he's prolly close to it...

06-01-2004, 10:39 PM
I just want to say that it piss me out that he say that there is a lack of personality.It isn't the case.I found most tennis players to be charismatic and intelligent.Also, they are far from arrogant and obnoxious. A lots of them are really nice .The games has never been more interesting.

little duck
06-01-2004, 10:58 PM
The old man is speaking crap.

But he sais himself: it's too fast for him to follow. He would like slower balls.

So since he can't follow the game, he can't understand it nor identofy with the players.

And what you don't understand, you will say that "everybody is the same". For the person who doesn't like baseball, every point is the same. For someone who doesn't understand classical music, every piece sounds the same.

But this old man should be ashamed of speaking this out loud, and even think that he said something smart.

Everything he said about new players and the state of tennis is untrue.

06-02-2004, 05:17 AM
stupid old dinosaurs :silly: I wish they would shut they're silly mouth and go shoot themselves! he's tooooooo old and dumb to be able to follow the quick game today
well said, Clara Bow! good reply! but I don' think that motherf***in' corpse will respond to you, for I believe he's "arrogant" and "obnoxious".

06-02-2004, 07:41 AM
Lovely email Clara Bow, definitely better than the column! :)

06-02-2004, 09:22 PM
The guy is just being naive and foolish. It is obvious, his nostalgia for the 70's has gotten the best of him.

Still, today's tennis could be better. The 1970's (and early 80's) was probably the golden era of tennis. I say that simply because it was at its height in popularity, both in number of spectator and player, not because the quality was better.

However, spectator sports in general have gotten far too money-oriented. The bottom line is always money, sponsors, and money. Inevitably the whole business of sports has an adverse effect on play. Marat Safin has said himself that tennis is becoming less and less fun each year, and blames it on the tournament directors and tour officials. I would tend to agree with that as well. There are too many rules restricting play. And there are too many players who are afraid to speak their mind.

Finally, TV coverage of tennis also happens to be terrible. Thankfully the tennis channel has come along (for those who can get it) to stir things up.