Posted by: Trisha Leigh | January 24, 2011

Sometimes It’s Good to be “Un-American”

So, I haven’t posted anything on here in a while. To be honest, not much has been going on lately. I’ve been revising, writing, and a recent promotion to Jr. Editor for http://poptimal.com keeps me busy. I leave for the SCBWI conference in NYC this Thursday and I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to network, learn, and be back in the city. Also, I’m so looking forward to meeting my agent, Liz Jote, in person!

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, or follow my inanity on Twitter at all, know how passionate a tennis fan I am. There are many reasons I love watching tennis, and no, it’s not just the impossibly high ratio of attractive players that keep me tuning in.*

Why tennis instead of football, or basketball, or even baseball?

My father asked the same question, and accused me of being “downright un-American” when I recorded both World Cup Soccer and Wimbledon last summer.

Here’s the thing. I love baseball. I come from a baseball family, and I’ve written about what the sport means to me previously on this blog. I enjoy watching college football (especially when my alma mater is winning the Rose Bowl!) and basketball.  That said, tennis offers something those other sports don’t.

Community.

Tennis brings together not just a college, or a city, or even a country. During tennis season, especially during the major tournaments, a world of players come together and exist as one, pulsing community full of healthy competition and respect that I’ve never witnessed while viewing another sport.

For your consideration.

The current tournament, for those of you not in the know, is the Australian Open. It’s played in Melbourne, where summer is just winding down, and the Aussie’s have a great tennis tradition. Like the U.S., the past several years have seen a dry spell for their players. They currently have a very good women’s player, Samantha Stosur, and the experts and crowd alike looked for her to go deep into the second week in Melbourne.

She didn’t.

She lost, in the third round, to a lower ranked but up and coming left handed Czech, Petra Kvitova.

Was the crowd pulling for Sam? With all their might. Were the disappointed when she left without a victory? Of course. Did they stand and cheer when the Kvitova won fair and square?

They did. They gave her honest applause, returned her glowing smile of victory over one of their own.

A few days later, two women (Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia) played a marathon match that lasted nearly five hours. It would have been easy to let disappointment lead to unsporting behavior after losing a match you’ve given everything to. Svetlana did no such thing, simply trudged to the net and embraced her sweaty opponent before making her way off court.

These are a few recent examples of on court behavior by both fan and player that earn my respect for the sport over and over again. There are more.

Off court, they pull together and support one another’s charities, attend each other’s weddings, practice across the net from friends they’ll be asked to take apart in competition over the next several months.

I think I like it because they seem to realize that, after everything, it’s just sport. It’s a match, with the inevitable winner and loser. All you can do as a competitor is go out there and give it all you’ve got. If you’re the best player that day, you win. If the other guy does it better, tip your hat, hit the showers, and go work harder so next time you’ll be the one basking in the applause.

I’m not saying the system never breaks down. You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed Serena Williams’ embarrassing display at the U.S. Open a couple of years ago.  Referee’s get hollered at in the heat of the moment. Curse words are uttered. Tennis does a decent job policing its own though, unlike many American sports, and players are sanctioned, fined, and oh yeah, drug tested on a regular basis. Players have been suspended for simply missing a scheduled drug test, never mind failing one.

The writing community I’ve discovered online the past couple of years embraces all these qualities, and it’s something I’m proud to be a part of.  Last year, in a giant outpouring of generosity, we raised an incredible amount of money in support of the flood victims in Nashville. We support one another, even though in many cases we’re competing – for agents, book deals, even readers. We help one another get better, buy one another’s books, recommend them to friends. We celebrate victories, commiserate when we miss the mark.

Sometimes it’s not our turn, but we congratulate the winner, then return to our computers to make ourselves better, in the hopes that next time we’ll be the one with the good news.

We fail – I know I do – to keep the unsavory thoughts and reactions out of our minds sometimes. We’re human. We get jealous and petty.

For the most part, though, we’re not.

Like tennis players, whose love of the sport is more important than their individual success, writers love reading.

We want people to experience amazing stories, no matter who writes them.

 

 

*Okay, so it’s a little about the guys. How can I not take the chance to post this picture??

What I’m watching right this second: A young Canadian, Milos Raonic, battle #7 Spaniard David Ferrer in the Australian Open Round of 16.

 

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Responses

  1. I’ve missed your blogs, Trisha…I like reading them in the mornings while I’m getting ready- keep them coming 🙂

    • Thanks Jocelyn, I’m glad they make your mornings better. I hate mornings.

  2. “Tennis Player Trim” is my favorite athletic build on a guy. Love tennis. *sigh*

    And, yes, writers can be jealous bunch, envious of the success of other writers, even while honestly happy for them. Seething cauldrons of mixed emotions, and all that. Lord knows I’m guilty. But I think it’s only truly petty if you act negatively on those emotions. At least, that’s what I’m going with in my head. 😉

    • Mmmmm-hmmmm, mine too. Tennis player bodies and soccer player bodies are where it’s at. I think it’s normal to be jealous, but it only takes the smallest effort to turn that into pleasure for someone else…

      Oops.

      That’s what she said. LOL.


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