David M. Russell

Boorish tennis fans

In Commentary on July 1, 2009 at 5:39 am

You have to suspect it was inevitable but there’s still something sad about the demise into boorishness of tennis. Long gone are the days when ladies played the game and they wore skirts with voluminous, if sometimes frilly, undies. Men wore floppy shorts and jumpers draped casually around their necks with sleeves knotted causally across their chests. Everyone had a sense of decorum.

Not today, though. Today the sport has become as crass as everything else modern. The demise began with the slide into sexy outfits. Make no mistake, I am delighted this happened and my interest in women’s tennis has grown steadily. Men’s tennis rarely attracts my attention! But then came the ascension of gamesmanship over sportsmanship. As prizemoney, player appearance fees and endorsements grew into astronomical sums the need to win at any cost grew proportionately.

That led to the art of grunting. It was just a few snorts initially but the volume and frequency rapidly rose to a crescendo. It was one thing for the guys to indulge in this finessing but to hear women making more noise than a draughthorse labouring under an unfair load is simply distracting – as it is intended to be to their opponents. Now, we have dedicated fan clubs screaming from the sidelines, causing distraction for opponents. Sadly, one of the worst offenders in this new outbreak of gamesmanship is Australia’s own Leyton Hewitt. Leyton, if ya can’t win fair, mate, give up playing.

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