One of my photos

Anyone for tennis?

July 3rd, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 5 Comments · Life

I can’t really get into tennis.  I used to enjoy playing it, but I can’t derive much enjoyment from watching it.  I saw the last 30 minutes of Andy Murray getting beaten in straight sets and even that was a bit dull.  This was a quarter final of one of the top events in the sport and it was entirely predictable.  What I do find interesting as a spectator is watching the behaviour of the other spectators – its like an anthropology study of the middle classes.

I am bound to have mentioned before that my preference is for the randomness of, say, the FA Cup over the seeding and meticulous planning that goes into making Wimbledon so predictable.  How much more fun would it be if the Williams sisters could get drawn against each other in the first round?  If a League One team beats a Premier League team in a knockout game it is called an upset but in tennis you get the feeling that people genuinely are upset if it all fails to go to plan – unless its a Brit doing the upsetting.

As it is the event has less spontaneity than a F1 grand prix.  And I couldn’t believe how many blokes in the crowd were wearing ties. To a sporting event!  Says it all really.

Or rather it doesn’t.  What says it all is a quote that I saw in the paper today.  A (presumably) middle class lady was saying why she doesn’t like Murray and was supporting Nadal:

For a start his language on court is atrocious.  He never looks tidy.  I just think he’s not a nice young man.  And he’s very anti-English.  Doesn’t support the English football team.

What?  How dare this Hibs-supporting Scotsman not support the English football team!  Doesn’t everybody in Scotland support England?   The lady does not say whether she is fluent in Spanish and thus qualified to say that Nadal’s language is not atrocious 🙂

Surely Wimbledon is really a social event with some tennis as a sideshow?  Its part of the scene along with Royal Ascot and the Henley Regatta – an excuse for a picnic – with the difference being that the BBC are willing to reschdule their entire output at the drop of a hat.  Its a bit of a relief that there is no further British involvement though.  Less chance of me getting home Saturday evening to watch the recording of the last episode of Doctor Who only to find an hour of tennis with a message at the bottom saying the Daleks have been shifted to BBC Two.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    We are out on Saturday night (a family birthday thing – fairly unavoidable even if we wanted to) but I am not going to risk taping Dr Who…..

    As for the bulk of the post – I didn’t watch Muray getting knocked out, it seemed a bit mean to watch by then, but I did watch the previous game from him being two sets down and about to go out of the tournament. It actually looked like real sport, with an underdog and all. To cap it all, at the end, Murray actually smiled! (Not a big tennis fan myself but this match was worth watching)

  • Rob Glover

    Hmmmmm……. so, you don’t like tennis?
    Well, I think football is shite, what you gonna do about that.
    I don’t know, this whole post here just seems a bit too class-conscious to me! It’s not as if the tennis players have to be any more middle-class than football players, they earn less money, and they have better conduct. Why is that a bad thing?

  • Danivon

    Rob, I think Skuds is talking about the people watching the sport, not playing it.

    I suppose F1 can be a bit predictable. But then I was at the Silverstone GP where Schuey drove into the wall, leaving the championship wide open. Hamilton seems to have a knack of changing the course of a race (even if by not noticing a red light).

  • skud's sister

    Grand Prix had become very predictable and, sometimes, processional in the Schuey days (I am not a fan – if you want someone who gives the impression of looking down on mere mortals look no further than Schumacher senior…) but now I’m very glad it is still being shown on ITV still because anything could happen when you nip to the loo! And, if Hamilton is really pushing himself hard, it probably will happen!

  • Skuds

    Rob is right but, I think, may have cause and effect the wrong way round.

    Believe it or not I don’t go around feeling working class, middle class or even giving class much of a thought. However, some things just irritate me, and when I examine them they turn out to be things that those who would proudly claim to be middle class identify with.

    Like cutting sandwiches diagonally for example.

    In the case of tennis, it has the potential to be interesting but seems to be stifled by tradition and ritual. For example, in a game with two competitors there must be at least 9 on-court officials (now there is no net judge) and thats before you start on the ballboys and towel carriers.

    The rituals around ballboys (more often girls now) confuse me too. Why do they make a point of giving the serving player three balls when he will only need two? The player examines them and chooses one to discard. Are some of the balls better than others? Whats all that about?

    It is as if the entire structure around the game is designed to put off anyone who does not buy into the whole scene from casual enjoyment. In other words I get a vague feeling that they are trying to keep the riff raff out.

    The real question is why I consider myself to be part of the riff raff. Maybe its because I cut my sandwiches squarely? 😉

    Yes F1 is becoming a bit less processional now, I have even been watching it myself this year.