Posted tagged ‘Racquet sports’

Tales from the court

June 7, 2012

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, in the summer it turns to tennis.

The man whose head screwed off

The year is 2016, not far off at all and the venue, for the sake of having a venue, is San Jose, California: the SAP Open. San Jose was given the nod because San Jose is pleasing to say. San Jose, San Jose, San Jose. What was to happen (will happen) was predicted from the early days of tennis when maces hit skulls.

The men’s game has grown to gladiatorial status and big, booming serves have been countered by stadium developers making the ground behind the baseline longer giving receivers the chance to return the ball. The fans are fed up with aces and want longer rallies. Rallies they get and all of a power nature. Rapid fire shots are hurled back and forth with intensity. The upshot of which is that new balls are needed after every point.

For the onlooker to follow every stroke the head has to pivot on its axis systematically like greased lightning. With so much twisting going on and nothing to cool the process torsion occurs. The human neck can wear out its thread in a kind of metallurgical fashion. At San Jose a spectator watching the blur of a ball whip lashed his head from side to side with the inevitable result.

Don’t worry, they’ve all got their heads on

Only with my doppelganger

The trouble with doubles is you rely on your partner. And no matter how good you are at the singles format, doubles games are completely different. Notwithstanding the obvious- the court is bigger, there’s four individuals on show- other factors can outwit the singles champion.

Geometry. All the angles that can win the point in a one v one are redundant here. That perfected Euclidian winner in a lone match can be intercepted by a perceptive player loitering at the net. There are too many variables that luck plays its part which is wrong. You could now encounter two adversaries that mis-hit their strokes.

Chemistry. If the other team have a good relationship you could be beat before you start. It pays not to have two straight men; a foil is required. Camaraderie wins games and both players have to be on the right wavelength. I’m firmly set on FM stereo and have no time for a whistling shipping forecast LW.

Physics. The handshake equation. With four people confusion and clumsiness is common. The first handshake is easy to execute. It is when criss-crossing opponents try to greet the other player that causes the comedy of errors. Entangled limbs are enmeshed spaghetti-style, made even worse with racquets flapping all over the place. Four unwilling participants of a céilidh dance. The disentangling with effusive gestures doesn’t look cool.

Smash (first edition)
Slaz Enger reporting

You can almost hear the violins in the distance as the Frorg-Monroe contest reaches a climax in a pulsating crescendo of broken strings and fortissimo machismo. The Swede Frorg, normally as ice-cold as his country’s ice-cream that is sold in discount stores in this country has been flashing his bat like Thor of old and has delivered Viking vengeance on his rival, the New York slugger, J.P. Monroe.

Monroe is back-pedalling to reach a vicious top spin groundstroke. With a mighty lunge the American hoists the ball to the gods. Frorg stands at the net and unleashes a devastating smash that is unreturnable. Monroe returns it to sender.

Frorg smashes again another thunderbolt smash. Monroe steps back and reads the bouncer. Somehow from over his head he gets to the ball and sends it back even higher until it is a mere speck in the sky. Frorg waits…and waits. He rearranges the strings on his racquet and waits some more.

Monroe ambles to his seat and reads the latest edition of Tractor’s weekly. And as Newcombe said “what goes up must come down” and the ball looms into sight. The ball is coated in ice and hurtles like an asteroid to earth. Frorg eyes the incoming-