As many of you who read this blog know I am a Caribbean girl. Born and bred on the lovely island of Jamaica. I am used to the heat. As a child I played lots of sports. Dandy shandy, baseball, cricket, etc. I could not wait until summer because then I got to go to the country and swim in the river, walk the sugar cane plantation owned by my grandparents and hide under the cellar away from chores just to read the thousands of books that my aunt, a teacher kept under there.
When I got to high school, I played netball, swam, played hockey and football. I was basically an outdoor type of girl. As I got older, I took up tennis. Loved the sport and even though I never made it beyond Level 5 in my local league, I enjoyed playing, whether rain or shine. When I moved to the Cayman Islands 12 years ago, I joined a club and started playing in a Mixed League. There were times when my opponents in league tennis who were much better and fitter than I was would schedule matches for Saturday or Sunday mornings at 11:00 when the sun was high in the sky. At those times, I really hated my opponent and wished that they had sun stroke, but I sucked it up and played, and win or lose I would give my best effort.
I recently watched an NFL game where both teams were playing in blizzard type conditions. At one point, they could not even see the replay of the game because the snow was coming down so hard. I have seen many pro athletes develop their games in conditions that were inhumane to say the least. From players in war torn Cameroon to women from the Middle East competing in long dresses or with their whole bodies covered in order to compete with their fellow professionals from all over the world.
Professional tennis players though are in a class of their own when it comes to playing through adversity. From complaining about lighting, to the type of balls used, to whether someone is standing up way in the stands before they can serve, to removing bugs from the service line before they can hit a serve, professional tennis players come across as childish, petulant and full of their own sense of importance.
These men and women are playing a sport that is hardly even recognised as a sport by other professional athletes. From having their racquets strung by a professional stringer, to having a trainer come on court to massage their bodies, these athletes are doing everything in their power to alienate what little fans they still have who pay attention to the sport.
The latest complaint from the gallery is the never ending discussion about the heat in Australia. It is Australia. It is hot because it is summer. The same thing happens every single year at every single Major. At the Australian Open it is about the heat, French Open, when are we going to get lights for night tennis, at Wimbledon, is the grass slow or fast and will it rain and at the US Open, when will we get a roof and is there a tropical storm or hurricane on the way.
Tennis fans and the players need to let it go and try and enjoy the tennis. Sit back and relax. Watch someone adapt their game to the conditions and to what the man or woman is doing on the other side of the net. Yes it is hot but this is what you trained for. This is what you should have prepared yourself for while you were soaking up all that exhibition money and having a great old time in what passes for the off season. How about using that ice towel and ice vest to cool down. Drink more fluids. Stay focused. Ignore the heat. It is hard, but you can do it.
I love this sport. I really do, but I am beginning to become mroe and more disillusioned by the players who play the sport.
For once, can we just shut up and play