Thursday, June 14, 2012

The time has come to put an end to this diatribe of the senses. To sever its head and stab the ugly beast of excessive racket with a dagger to the heart, killing it off before all hope is gone.

It has got to stop, now.

What has to stop, you may ask? Grunting, that’s what.

For too long now tennis fans around the world have had to suffer through a continuous torrent of this noise infested malaise, leaving their eardrums battered and popped.

Surely enough is enough.

Now is the hour for Tennis officialdom to stomp on this torturous practice of the young and the brattish, to once and for all ban it from the domain of each and every court on the professional circuit for the betterment of the game.

That is if they have the courage. If not, they should send out a rigorous search party to find a healthy dollop of this most valuable of commodities, for this is one of the major issues facing Tennis.

Players can complain all they like about excessively hard touring schedules, but if the fans finally tire of the tedious practice of grunting - which amounts to nothing more than blatant cheating – and up sticks, taking with them their hard earned to other forms of entertainment, then not only does the sport suffer but so do those same players.

You wouldn’t think it hard for them to deduce that no fans equates to no sponsors, which in turn means less prize money for them.

In the end if the players wish to persevere with this odious practice they may find that they bite the hand that feeds.

Maybe if they found out what a loss of income feels like, they would quickly change their attitude towards grunting. Combine that with a ban from the next Grand Slam event, hence taking away any chance of glory, then the message would be rammed home in a jiffy.

One severely doubts the capacity of administrators to stand up to the players, though.

Until now they have shown no inclination to scrap it out with the little monsters, constantly stating that the practice is too ingrained in the current era of tennis stars for them to be able to change.

Numerous words spring to mind in response to this such as bollocks, baloney and poppycock. And that is just for starters. Please do spare us this mindless drivel whereby we are expected to believe that players are putting in so much effort that they need to exhale a monumental groan upon hitting a ball. Even shots not hit with the maximum of force seem to be accompanied with the almightiest of wails.

Becker, Graf, Navratilova, Borg, Laver, McEnroe, they didn’t grunt – and they weren’t the worst talents going around. Hit the ball pretty hard, too.

I mean, Roger Federer doesn’t, and he has a reasonable power game. Petra Kvitova doesn’t and she hits as hard as any in the women’s game. So why do many of the others feel the need to?

Perhaps it is to distract their opposition. Nah, it couldn’t be, they are professionals after all. Of course they are above this sort of nefarious behaviour.

Or are they?

Just this last January in Auckland, David Ferrer spent two and a half sets grunting.

Amazingly, as soon as he was well ahead in the third set, the din abated.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to the motives for this.

What it does show, though, is the ability to compete without this symphony of sonic diarrhoea, and also without it near the end of the match where presumably the athlete would be suffering from the effects of physical exertion more than he or she was at the beginning.

At times there seems to be more wailing going on early in a match than later.

Go figure.

The reality of the situation is that the use of grunting is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to cheat; to disguise the sound of the ball as it whizzes off the racquet so that it is harder for the opposition player to decipher what type of shot has been played. And, trust me, they can definitely tell by the sound the ball makes.

At least they would if it were not for the grunting.

Even worse than Ferrer and others in the men’s game, are the women. Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are two of the biggest culprits within the sport.

They are two of the true stars of the game running roughshod over all and sundry, seemingly without any sign of a conscience floating around in their heads as to the damage they are reeking upon a sport loved by many.

Here lies the problem the administrators perceive themselves to have. If they bring bans in for grunting, two of the biggest names in Women’s tennis would be the first to suffer an enforced layoff. And the Women’s game is already lacking in genuine depth. Crowds supposedly would not turn up to events. More than likely the administrators fear the top players, believing they need them more than the players need the governing body. Now there is even more poppycock for you.

And so what if tournaments are weakened initially? This is a case of suffering some pain in the short term in exchange for long term gain.

Go on, ban them, and send a message. Show them that Tennis is bigger than a small minority of spoilt brats that have never stepped out into the real world and believe they can do as they please, no matter how it affects anybody else.

Sure you will lose some of your stars at the outset, but just watch the next tier play their little hearts out when they sense an opportunity to gain a major title, along with a humongous payday. Don’t fear for the likes of Sharapova and Azarenka though, they will soon fall into line. They’ll be back, eager to be in the spotlight once again.

The public will understand – in fact they’ll be right behind the governing body on this issue. Just listen.

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