Thursday, August 12, 2010

News Flash: Tennis Is All But Dead

Look, you had to see this coming.

Ever since John McEnroe stopped yelling at officials and puppy-dog innocent ball boys and girls big time tennis has been sliding head-long into the sporting consciousness’s crapper.

These days, the sport is burdened with women pros who are either the Williams sisters or grunting male tennis player imitators – some that look like nameless Russian weight lifters and others that look like nameless Russian supermodels. Not that there is anything wrong with Russians or supermodels.

On the men’s side, all the top players are married to supermodels and have the personalities of wood. Really boring wood. One guy wins all the tournaments, and the only guy that ever beats him looks like a Spanish supermodel. Yawn.

Roll this into the current model of pop culture where the sporting universe is currently OBSESSED with the length of our contests. It appears that if you are under forty you are either too busy or too important to spend more than two hours watching a sporting event unless its pro football (and you whine and cry that NFL games take too long, but the all-powerful marketers of Red Zone fame manage to keep you anyway!). Even then, the bitching reaches tornadic proportions if a replay extends the three-hour-plus broadcast by ninety more seconds.

Media wags wail that everything, including America’s pastime baseball, takes too long…we must increase the “pace of the game” they say over and over again.

(We say, bulls**t.)

But if that is the current countenance of our modern sports fan, tennis is in some deep kimchee.
The big event in England lasts two weeks – a damn far cry from two hours. This year, one match lasted two days…Who has time for that? (Like, really? Who really has two days to watch a tennis match?)

Apparently, no one at the networks or ESPN or Fox Sports or Yahoo or a couple million blogs not devoted to tennis or you, that’s who.

Like the once major sports of boxing and horse racing, tennis, too is struggling to regain its spot in the sports’ world hierarchy.

To make matters worse, the general malaise the sport is suffering is working its way into the grass roots fanbase – the local club and tournament players.

Back in early August in the home municipality of T.A.H. Worldwide Media LLC, two chaps named David Couk Jr. (at net below) and Mark Deckwitz (ballcap below) became the oldest doubles team to win the storied Fauquier County Tennis Tournament “A” division doubles. These two geezers are a combined 101-years-old!

(OK Jimmy Kimmel and YouTube fans here’s the obligatory inserted joke “Fauquier Tennis and Culpeper's too!”)

No crap, an affluent county in the heart of “horse country” just 50 miles from the capital of the Free World couldn’t muster up a couple of twenty-somethings home from representing their chosen institutions of higher learning in the classic cat gut sport to kick the pee livin’ snot out of these two old guys?

Well...no. And good on all us old guys everywhere!

Yes, it was a major upset as the winners knocked off higher seeded younger opponents all the while overcoming bum knees and other classic old guy aches and pains.

The championship match (6-4, 5-7, 7-6 [9-7]) lasted three hours! OMG! That’s longer then a World Cup soccer match, who can sit through such tedium? (Just kidding. No, seriously we can watch our homies play tennis as long as the match takes [read that: as long as the beer stays cold], but who can sit through a World Cup match besides Mr. Anderson and people from Europe and Latin America?)

Couk (50) is a local version of an “iron man” who has been a tennis star since his youth, and a college basketball and tennis player. He still regularly mixes it up with “A” leaguers on both courts. That said, he does remain a mediocre golfer.

To his credit, our main man Jr., while not a racket-thower/screamer, does posses quite a bit more flamboyance than your average tennis pro. A favorite anecdote is about the time he once burned his rackets in his Richmond backyard after what he deemed to be a particularly egregious loss.

Nice, Jr. NICE!

His partner, Deckwitz played college tennis at Florida and Florida Atlantic.

“Those young guys we played were so much better athletes it blows your mind,” said Deckwitz demonstrating his age by saying “blows your mind” to a reporter. Evidently…the flashbacks and creaky body parts weren’t a factor as the winners demonstrated once again that experience trumps youth.

When it was all over, both players admitted to the local media that their next stop would likely be the massage table.

Fellas, all us old guys thank you and congratulate you.

Now, go throw a racket and yell at somebody!

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