When I started writing this piece, I planned it as a single column examining the sport’s lack of popularity in America. After many weeks, I began to wonder if the sport was satisfied with its niche status or if it was willing to address core issues to achieve popularity, mass appeal. This five-part series will address some of the issues that thwart the sport’s popularity.
- Game, Set and Match
- Tennis Fandom: Niche and Rabid
- Accessibility: Not Relegated to Availability
- Organization: Fan, Player and Sport Well Being
- Culture: Transparency, Criticism and Equality
Game, Set, and Match
In search of the dream, the win,
they join a niche sport for the slams.
they walk onto the tennis court with a boxer’s stare-hiding nerves and emitting waves of intimidation.
they prepare their rest area and rackets with the ritual mechanics a ballerina wrapping her feet.
they run in place or shadow swing their racquets as the chair umpire lays down the rules, and tosses the coin.
they perform a five-minute choreographed on-court warm-up: groundstrokes, volleys, liners, lobs, and serves.
With a feel for the ball, the court and their opponent–play begins:
they serve with the velocity and precision of a pitcher — down the T, out wide or at the body–flat, slice, topspin, kick.
they return using footwork to absorb pace, redirect the ball and build the point.
they rally with the strength, speed and flexibility of an all around gymnast –forehands, backhands, volleys, dropshots and sometimes even splits.
they sprint from ad to deuce court and net to baseline time and again with acrobatic saves–flying forehands that look more like jumpshots or tweeners that only a globetrotter would attempt.
they finish points not with the flare of a touchdown or a goal but with the focus of a marathoner who has not yet reached the wall.
After two, three, four or five sets,
they shake hands win or lose
and move on to the next round
or the next tournament
in search of the win.