Being from Texas, football would be a logical assumption for my favorite sport, but I've blown hot and cold with it. For one thing, why bother having a clock, when the last five minutes of a game can go on for half an hour? And why so many guys on a team who only seem to be able to complete one aspect of the game on their own? I like soccer (or as my mother would say, "real football"), but generally only international events like the World Cup where the stakes are high and the games are competitive. There's something about the fact that "friendlies" can end in a tie that seems to go against the general quality of a sport.
No, tennis is the one for me. There is no sport where an athlete is so alone in their play. Even golf, an individual sport, players have caddies to discuss shots with a choose clubs. The closest a tennis player gets is the roar of the crowd and sly signaling from their box. But it is up to them and no one else to keep their mind in the game.
There are so many stories in tennis. You have Federer, the best out there right now. I've been a little ambiguous in my feelings for him because it does get a little dull knowing who will ultimately win a match or tournament. No matter how many gorgeous shots he hits, it doesn't get interesting until someone returns them (just one reason I love Nadal so much). But when Federer shows emotion, that's when I love him. When he lost the Australian Open, he was clearly devastated, and when he won the French Open for the first time, completing the career Grand Slam, he was full of joyful tears and disbelief. I admire his skill, but it's the desire I require to root for someone. For the same reason that I care so much for characters in books and movies, I love to see a player enjoy the win of their life.
By the same token, I do suffer when a favorite player loses. I've been a fan of Andy Roddick since 2001's Wimbledon, where he lost to eventual winner Ivanisevic. My fandom is simple: I don't just want him to win, I know he can, and it's disappointing when he doesn't. When he won the US Open I was ecstatic. When he lost the epic Wimbledon final to Federer, I was in tears the rest of the afternoon, but consoled by the fact that he almost beat Federer, something no one thought he could do there.
The women's game can be just as interesting, though the drama of a break of serve isn't as high because it happens more often. But with Clijsters return, and the amazing run of Melanie Oudin, there's always something popping up to make life interesting. I won't comment on the recent kerfuffle with Serena Williams' outburst, I'll just say that it's a shame Clijsters didn't get her winning moment, and that this is what most people will take from the match, and possibly the tournament. Why is it people seem to only tune into tennis when someone is yelling?
One of the advantages to working at home is that I can do what I like while I work, which includes watching hours of television coverage on grand slams. First, Wimbledon, my first and favorite tournament, and now near its end, the US Open, with its own special place in my heart because I was there last year. There's nothing quite like being able to watch every single moment of each round (or at least every moment they decide is important enough to show me). It's not the same to see the score update online or watch the recaps at night.
I love waking up every morning to the ESPN or CBS team. Anyone not in the US won't know what I mean when I talk about "Pammy," "Killer," "Cliffy," "MJ," "BJ," along with Dick Enberg and John and Patrick McEnroe (who I like to think of as "Knick-knack, Patty-Mc"). But truly, were I to go to another event, I'd be just as excited to see these guys as any of the top players. The many hours they spend together covering tennis makes them friendly and jovial with each other, adding an extra layer of pleasure in my viewing and bringing a few laughs to the matches.
Other than the commentators, there is simply the game of tennis. These past two weeks have given me plenty to feed off of as I work from my computer and walk around the living room to keep myself active. When it's all over tomorrow, there will be a gap. I'll miss waking up and looking at the schedule of the day, and hoping for a "Technically Speaking" feature from the commentators. I'll have to wait until January to get the same quantity and quality of tennis. And by then, I hope I'll have a job, which might prevent me from enjoying every minute of coverage as I have recently. But I'll still be watching closely, breathless as the live score window updates on my browser (while of course still doing my work to the utmost!).
Some people have soap operas, but tennis is where I get my stories. There is triumph, comeback, success against all odds, and there is disappointment, loss, injury and heartbreak. It's just a ball being knocked around a few squares, but it's so much more. To me at least.