Like so many other societal failings
these days, the WTA, for whatever ungodly reason, has allowed the Women’s Tennis
Tour to become a hootin’, howlin’, cat fight. While this screech-fest is going
on, the fans, locked in their seats, are committed to absolute silence. Heaven
forbid a child should cut loose - they would be forced to remove the annoyance
Because the WTA has not had the
chutzpah to step in and regulate this decibel debacle, we, the tennis devotees,
are instead subjected to an unparalleled symphony of who-gotcha howling. Since
it is deliberately orchestrated, it becomes necessary for the ladies to develop
their own unique shriek – something with a ring to it – maybe a double yowl to
cover up the tell-tale sound of the ball leaving their strings that might signal
the type of shot. If they should flub the screech, is that like a blink in
These damsels, appearing in
teeny tiny tennis tutus, belie the ferocity that burns in their barely covered
bosoms and bottoms to smash, crash, and annihilate the little yellow fuzzies.
Now that this piquing contest has been allowed to escalate, some have added
double crescendos to their repertoire, i.e., Hantekova of Russia with her
Hey-yah! Where do they practice their hoots? Do they have a howl coach?
I openly confess to having
prayed for a bout of incurable laryngitis to hit the locker-rooms. Nothing life
threatening, just painful – like our ears. As I remember, Navratilova, Stephi,
and Davenport, had no need to bellow. They just won all those titles by focusing
on strokes – not shrieks.
As Sharipova’s career
diminishes, her screech escalates. Protect your eardrums when her game goes to
hell in a ball basket. Her freneticism is scary! I find myself relieved when she
loses – taking her designer tutu, haughty expression, her pony tail and puppy
back to the airport. Sad commentary actually. Not like watching basketball where
you can lower the TV and turn on the radio to hear the game. Don’t get me
started on basketball! Might we ever use clackers, horns, and whistles at tennis
matches? We should have the right to express ourselves.
Grunting has spread to the ATP
men’s tour now but at least those few who do grunt don’t rattle my nerve
endings. More of a mellow bellow.
Bottom line here. I play,
watch, tape and DVR, photograph, and attend everything. I even pay big bucks for
the Tennis Channel. In the 70’s, I was a paper cup away from Arthur Ashe at the
U.S. Open at Longwood Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would never
dream of grunting, even if he fell over the ball boys. Oh, such class! I even
saw a curly haired kid named McEnroe at 18 beat up someone on a hot Wednesday
afternoon with nary a gasp.
I myself play with a Wilson
Carbon Hyper-Hammer wide-body with enough power to punch a hole in the green
court screens. I started with a small wooden Slazenger bought from my Aussie
tennis coach. My elevation to the Hyper-Hammer is testament to my continued
involvement in the game. Having lived through the modernization of this grand
ol’ lawn game, it is a joy to see the women’s game come alive with these super
racquets. They have the power to intimidate, so they don’t need the sound
effects. These racquets give them voice enough. Are we more likely to watch
because the women have decided to screech? I don’t think so!
I no longer wake up at 2:00am
here on the West Coast to watch women’s tennis LIVE from the European tourneys.
With one eye open, I don’t want to listen to bellows of power emanating from my
giant stereo TV system in the bedroom. Not in the middle of the night. I do
waken to watch the men’s matches.
I don’t watch women’s tennis
much anymore. Sad. They could have stopped it way back when Monica Seles started
grunting. They did try to stop her, but backed down. Mustn’t offend the prima
donnas. Tough luck for the fans.
The most we can hope for at
this stage of the game is that the tennis associations will at least attempt to
curb the annoyance. It may be too late to abolish something they have already
allowed to permeate the game. Like gun control, illegal immigration, and
grunting, by the time they legislate it, everyone will have amassed an arsenal –
of guns, green cards, grunts, groans, and bellows.