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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Dec 31, 2008

12/31/2008 3:08:00 PM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Main Page

Dec 31, 2008

2008 was all about griping and complaining about all the things that bugged me about the sport of tennis. 2009 is going to be all positivity and light. Embracing the new. Laughing like Julia Roberts as tennis holds out a velvet box full of priceless goodies and then snaps it shut on me playfully.

Of course it won't happen overnight. Just kidding, it will. Because it's a new year. A new season. A new me. Forthwith, my New Year's Tennis Resolutions.

1. Stop being so hard on struggling players. The James Blakes, the Svetlana Kuznetsovas, the Richard Gasquets of the world. Their worst is still better than nearly every other player in the world's best, from you and me on up to, say, Michael Russell. That's a lot of players. And anyone can lose some momentum. Some drive. Some traction. So what if they've been doing this long enough and should know better? Or that they're blowing massive amounts of talent that any other player would sell their mothers' ashes for? So when I see a top player needlessly drown in their own crapulence, I'm just gonna shake my head, smile and offer them a Coke.

2. Give on court coaching a chance. After a trial run, during which I don't think I stopped spitting venom once, the WTA is implementing on court coaching full time in '09. In 2008 I firmly believed that tennis was an individual sport, and that figuring out one's opponent on their own was as much a part of the drama as a backhand ripped down the line for a winner. And as much a part of being a true champion. But this year I will embrace on court coaching. I won't damn the WTA for making women players appear mentally fragile as their predominantly male coaches run out and tell them what to do. I won't think less of the brainless infants who take advantage of it. And I'll give these women at least 50 percent of the credit when they get the W.

3. Celebrate the big serving giants. Watching ace after ace with nary a rally in sight used to give me gas. But 2009 is going to be the year of celebrating the half hour match. Ivo Karlovic v. Sam Querrey? John Isner v. Ivan Ljubicic? Hey, with two quick tiebreak sets to sit through, that's just more time to hit the concession stand. I'm assuming no one will have brought any popcorn. 

Lindsay Davenport is ready to be let out of James' prison.
4. Let Lindsay Davenport out of prison. How many years does the woman have to play before I give her back to the real world for cry eye? How many lasers to the corners does she have to fire before I say, hey, it's cool, you can have a life now? As she readies for a baby brother or sister for little Jagger, I wish her nothing but the best and hope there's someone coming up behind her with the right mix of groundstrokes and relatability to take her place in my heart. Someone who could come back from a C-section to win three more titles. Someone who could maybe come back after another and win three more..?

5. Hate the playa, not the game. There are enough bad matches that anyone who rocks it out should be admired and appreciated. Still, when said players act less than adulty, I have the hardest time separating them from their talent. No more. In 2009, I will say Andy Murray, I don't care what comes out of that mouth, I love your game! Anna Chakvetadze, I don't care if you're pouting and it's only the coin toss, your passing shots are off the hizzook! Johnny Mac, I don't care what kind of hissy you throw on court that makes everyone around you uncomfortable from the ball kids on up, I love that slice! I love tennis and I love you.

6. Lay off the WTA #1. Whoever it happens to be that week.

7. Believe that any publicity is good publicity. Tennis sometimes gets blamed for being out of touch and somewhat right of hip. As such it can lag behind other sports, such as football and NASCAR. As Andy Roddick so eloquently stated, "It's a little disappointing that we're behind a sport that you turn left for four hours." Any effort the tours make to bring any kind of awareness to the game should be met with Arsenio-style woof woof woofs! (My second Pretty Woman reference for those keeping track at home.) So what if Roddick is launching a squadron of alligators from his racquet in the ATP's Feel It campaign. Or if the WTA has its top stars running around with cell phones in spots that might as well end with them offering the camera Mentos. I'm on board, baby. Take me there.

What are your resolutions? And will you keep them?