Tennis is the Lonely Sport

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by gowrath, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. gowrath

    gowrath New User

    Feb 25, 2008
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    Tennis is the Lonely Sport[/FONT]

    Tennis, or as it was known anciently, “real tennis,” was a game of royalty and aristocracy. King Henry of VIII of England (yes, that King Henry the VIII) and King Louis X of France were two notable players—qualifying the nickname, “the sport of Kings.”

    Skip forward approximately 473 years from Louis X’s death. Time to brush up on your history folks; an important turning point in the French Revolution was the Tennis Court Oath (1789).

    According to Wikipedia (and I’m not going to try to find another source): The oath was both a revolutionary act, and an assertion that political authority derived from the people and their representatives rather than from the monarch himself.

    Skip forward another 221 years. Tennis has become a global phenomenon, with millions of devotees and thousands of touring professionals. Agassi, one of the most revered figures in the game, publishes his autobiography, “Open.” In it, he admits that 1) he hates tennis, 2) that tennis players are among the least educated athletes in the world, and 3) that tennis is a lonely sport.

    #1 is hardly debatable. What’s Agassi’s incentive to lie? He must truly hate tennis, a saddening fact indeed.

    #2 is possibly true. Laura Robson, a promising young junior, only spends 3 or 4 hours a day being home-schooled and treats tennis like “a full-time job.”1

    The result? Quote from Andy Murray, currently #4 in the world and British #1: “I don't think she quite understands the scoring system yet.”1

    It’s not entirely surprising that Robson and Roger Federer (currently #3 in the men’s rankings, promising candidate for the Greatest of All-Time) both started playing tennis at age 6:

    “For promising junior players, refining the kinesthetic sense is the main goal of the extreme daily practice regimens we often hear about. The training here is both muscular and neurological. Hitting thousands of strokes, day after day, develops the ability to do by “feel” what cannot be done by regular conscious thought. Repetitive practice like this often looks tedious or even cruel to an outsider, but the outsider can’t feel what’s going on inside the player — tiny adjustments, over and over, and a sense of each change’s effects that gets more and more acute even as it recedes from normal consciousness.”2

    Robson indeed does not understand many things, but is beginning to understand the “kinesthetic sense” that David Foster Wallace writes about here.

    Tennis is the lonely sport:

    “We’re all on each other’s food chain. All of us. It’s an individual sport. Welcome to the meaning of individual. We’re each deeply alone here. It’s what we all have in common, this aloneness” (112)3.

    It goes without saying that ten out of every hundred people you meet plays tennis. Of those ten, maybe five play tennis well. In the United States, tennis’s status is overshadowed by bigger attractions (with bigger ad-revenue): baseball, football, and basketball.

    Singles is perhaps one of the more individualistic activities one can engage in. There is no goalie, no point-guard, and no linebacker. Instead, you are all of those at once.

    So why is tennis the sport of Kings? It’s lonely at the top, the higher up you go.

  2. CHOcobo

    CHOcobo Professional

    Jun 27, 2008
    it is true. haha. i only had one friend that played tennis and he moved. all my other friend smoke.
  3. new_tennis_player

    new_tennis_player Banned

    Dec 21, 2009
    Funny and interesting post.

    I guess being a multi-millionaire superstar adored by legions of fans throughout the world isn't exactly a piece of cake? Poor Andre!

    But on a slightly more serious note, tennis is truly an individual sport. You won't be celebrating that game winning three pointer with a dozen teammates and a handful of coaches. It's just you.

    Watching some of these players practice, you really do get it: tennis is indeed lonely. The players typically travel alone, with a single coach. If they are lucky, they have a few friends and family members at specific events.

    Otherwise, they have to find companionship with fellow tour players, and how close can such relationships be? Their gain is your loss.

    After watching a lot of tennis this week at BOTW, I'm not convinced that life is all peaches and cream for these players. The pressure to win is enormous, the grind from year round traveling and competing is pretty intense as well, and then there's the ongoing issue of injuries, which can topple the very best players sliding down the ranks into near oblivion.

    Tennis is pretty darn cutthroat.


  4. hellonewman

    hellonewman New User

    Aug 31, 2009
    Jersey City
    this is funny and interesting at the same time. thanks for sharing
  5. El Diablo

    El Diablo Guest

    Feb 19, 2004
    Well, that's the problem with blogs --- no editors or fact-checkers to determine if you're getting accurate information. "The sport of kings" term has been applied to thoroughbred horse racing, not tennis. Your blogger can also find that in his beloved Wikipedia.
  6. El Diablo

    El Diablo Guest

    Feb 19, 2004
    King Louis X?? Tennis in the fourteenth century?? Racquets didn't appear for another several centuries.
  7. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

    Aug 14, 2006
    You should try long distance running if you want a lonely sport.

    Or road biking.
  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    Comparing tennis to team sports and noting that there isn't a goalie to celebrate with is a little obvious and not very enlightening. Try comparing tennis to other individual sports...
  9. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Legend

    Feb 11, 2004
    Anyone for "DOUBLES?"

    (you of the great sense-of-humor in other threads)

    OP, great post, but if "lonely" is the criteria in play here, be advised that there is a famous sports-related piece by Alan Sillatoe entitled: "The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner"

    imho, "lonely?"

    Hearing a bell ring...then walking across a ring to an on-charging, angry Mike Tyson.

    A mistake? It ain't love-15.

    It's your ass.

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