The Tennis Curmudgeon


Airborne Forehand

The evolution of tennis has been one of slow, steady progress. Like a mid-August match on slow, dry clay. The game has gone from gentile to gentle to graceful to, now-a-days, grotesque.

What in the name of Suzanne Lenglen’s ghost is going on with ground strokes these days? Have you all lost your minds? Or, better yet, are you trying to lose your spines? You better have a good chiropractor on speed dial because you’re going to need it.

I was watching that Tennis Channel the other day and the contortions on these two players made me think my cable was going on the fritz. There couldn’t have been any other explanation because there’s no way a human body can twist like that. What’s the name of that stroke? The Twizzler? Every moveable section was spun around all akimbo. They ended their follow through looking like one of them mix-up puzzles. Or a Picasso. If he’d had a tennis period.

I know the world evolves and sports seem to change quicker than a campaigning politicians promises but, traditions should remain firm. And one of those very important traditions is that, on your follow through, you should not come face to face with your racket. Where did these strokes come from? The Cirque du Soleil Tennis Academy?

No wonder these people are grunting like a solo piano mover going down a spiral staircase. They’re in pain! No one can spin like that without their body sounding like a popular noisy trademarked breakfast cereal.

I remember when tennis was a game with it’s feet planted firmly on the ground. Oh sure, we might get a little air on the serve, but on groundies it was feet planted, shoulder turned, weight transferred back to front, contact and follow through.

Now players start off like the Roadrunner and end up looking like the Tasmanian Devil. I half expect them to be shedding their togs and stopping for an Acme Snack in the middle of the stroke.

What kind of stroke production role model is this? When I was learning the game it was easy. Most everyone hit the same. You’d run, stop, swing, repeat. We knew you pointed your shoulder where you were trying to hit the ball. But now you not only have to have a rudimentary set of tennis skills you have to understand aerodynamics and have a couple years of ballet under your belt.

That’s too much and it’s scary. The first time I saw a kid’s shoulder pointing at me during one of these Flying Wallenda forehands I was sure I was going to get Penn 3 tattooed on my forehead.

What’s next? Hover boards instead of sneakers? Air traffic controllers instead of umpires?

But the person I feel worse for is whoever has to create the new top for trophies. What’s the model? Charlie Brown on a pitchers mound when a line drive comes back at him?

‘Til next time, may your forehands land deep and your backhands full of pace,

Dennis

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