Tennis: A Refining Experience

I’ve watched a lot of sports in my days; soccer, basketball, baseball. Watching tennis is different…in lots of ways!

Here are a few things I’ve noticed in my short history with tennis: 

  • It’s not designed for the spectators. The best viewing for matches at the hight school is laying on the ground looking under the screens or standing backwards at the top of the bleachers over the football field. Otherwise you are looking through the mesh designed to keep the wind down and you only see slices of the action.
  • Though everyone wants the team to do well, they are really there to watch their son play his match(es). Unless they are playing doubles, your son is the only one involved in their match. And though there are others playing on the other courts, their all playing different games.
  • Meets last a long time and your son won’t be playing the whole time. There is a lot of sitting around waiting for them to play. Especially tough when you leave work early to go to a meet. There’s really no way around it. As the coach described it, coaching a tennis meet is like shoveling air.
  • Spectators at tennis are supposed to be quiet. They don’t scream at their kids on the court, cheer when their opponent misses a point, or even clap much. I have to remember this part when I’m waiting for Middle Son to play. Not saying I’m loud, but….
  • There are no referees! They enforce the rules themselves. The players call the ball in or out, long or short. They let their opponent know (with a funny little index-finger-in-the-air sign) when their serve or volley goes out. It’s all quite civilized! I’m sure there are bad calls, but I think knowing your opponent will be judging your serves and volleys is motivation to be honest.
  • The players don’t get caught up in themselves celebrating a good point. Half the time you wouldn’t be able to tell from their body language if the won the point or not. It’s really quite civilized and refined. Gentlemen on the court. And there’s lots of hand shaking!
  • But the biggest difference I’ve noticed so far…I have to pay attention to every play! There are no score boards. They call out the score each serve, but when they are three courts away and have the softest voice (not mentioning any names – Middle Son), you can’t hear what they call out. If you don’t watch every point, and keep track of every game, you have no idea who’s winning! And there are a lot of points to keep track of!

You might say tennis is making me a more refined spectator.

Just don’t count on that the next time you see me at a soccer game!


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