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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Nov 19, 2008

11/19/2008 6:23:00 PM

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Nov 19, 2008



Does this sound familiar? Someone catches your eye, and you think, hey, this could really be something. You get acquainted, you fall in love. You spend some of the best moments of your life together. And then they say or do something that so thoroughly grosses you out that you immediately kick them to the curb and wonder, what in the H E double hockey sticks did I ever see in them?

This is me with just about every tennis player on tour. I'm like a 13-year-old girl that way. I've had tumultuous, tempestuous, soul crushing relationships with darn near everyone from Croatia to Belarus (pretend they're further apart).

Serena Williams? Oh how I swooned for those groundstrokes. And that fight! Yes, Serena, I will marry you. And then, as one of seven or eight people at that infamous 2007 U.S. Open press conference, I sat there as Serena dismissed Justine Henin's win over her as "lucky shots" and thought, huh? Serena, why?

At first sight, my boy Marat Safin was impossible to resist (when was the last time anyone called him a boy?). So fiery. So aggressive. So many broken racquets. And then so MANY broken racquets! And resultant losses to players who probably didn't even know that they themselves existed until they read they beat him in the papers. I just couldn't deal anymore. 

Patty Schnyder showing off some 3rd set hair.
I have a laundry list of players who stepped out of line and onto my last nerve. Andy Roddick with his opponent-baiting? Vera Zvonareva with her umpteenth crying jag? Dmitry Tursunov with the not letting go of the umpire's hand thing? Patty Schnyder with her crazy 3rd set hair? (Okay, admittedly some days my threshold is lower than others...)

No one exemplifies my here one day, aghast the next proclivities better than Novak Djokovic. As some of you may recall, I went through an exhaustive search to find a new favorite male player after Mr. Safin devastated me one too many times. After a dogfight that saw Nole win his first battle against Roger Federer, the one for my affection, I finally felt I had someone I could stick with. I found someone, as Cher belts, to take away the heartache. And then Novak retired against Fed in the semifinals of Monte Carlo earlier this year and I felt like I was the one left holding a great big bag of steaming hot poo. How could he do this to me? I trusted him! Tell him I'm not home, mom, I don't want to talk to him!

I can't stop myself. Once again, I'm sniffing around someone new. Andy Murray. And I'm scared. Not because he'll be able to trick me. I've seen his on court antics enough. The bratty tantrums that would make Veruca Salt blush. I've heard his comments about playing poorly "like women," how women don't deserve equal prize money, blah blah blah. I have his number. Still, when I fall I fall hard, and I just know he's going to give me tons of rope with which to hang myself.

Come on, you say, you don't have to love the player, just love their game! That's just not me. I couldn't do it with Henin. I couldn't do it Lleyton Hewitt. I couldn't do it with John McEnroe. I'm just not wired that way.

I know I'm not alone. There are many fans out there crushed by their crushes on a daily basis. And it's so much harder in individual sports. You can hate Kobe but stick with the Lakers. Or love the Yankees even though they have That Other A-Rod on their bench. But what do you do when a tennis player you greatly admire, say, appears on TMZ shouting "Go McCain!" and proclaims that Sarah Palin is hot? (Mmhmm, look it up, people.)

So what can we oversensitive fans do? How do we keep from tearing through the entire tour until we have no one left but Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo and Elisabeth Shue?

Get over ourselves. 

The fact is, no one is perfect. They're not perfect in life, and they're certainly not perfect in the heat of battle (or right after being beaten down in straight sets on Arthur Ashe). Beyond that, the elder statesmen and stateswomen are in their twenties. How'd you like to have everything you ever said in your twenties transcribed and posted on the internet? How about when you were 21, which is how old both Murray and Djokovic are? (As for the Palin lover, I'm pretending he was just drunk on Chamarre.)

That's not to say you have to make like Tammy Wynette and stand by your man. You always have the option of taking a break. I went back to Safin, perhaps somewhere around his and Novak's Wimbledon meeting, but Marat pretty much demanded it with that one. And hey look, after his loss to #150 ranked Andrey Golubev in St. Petersburg, I've left him again! See you in '09, ya big lug.

I've also fallen back in with Serena. And A-Rod #1. And Vera, and Dmitry, and Patty. And yes, Nole. And what would tennis be like without any of them?

So the next time a player lets you down, remember. To err is human. To forgive is divine. And if all else fails, swing baby.

...

Meanwhile, after only a week on facebook, The Sweet Spot is the #2 tennis blog and top 25 in all of sports (!). It's now a love train. Hop on, at http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blogpage.php?blogid=75997. (No, seriously. Now. Like my coach Yuri told me, #2 is just another word for loser.)