Talking Heads: Comments on the Commentators
By: Jane Voigt
We can’t get away from them unless we’re seated inside a stadium. The majority of tennis fans at their beck and call. You know them as broadcast journalists, announcers, tennis talking heads or, as they are sometimes abbreviated, “commies.”
But what good are they? Do we listen? Or, can we hold our tongues or stop our fingers from tapping tweets when one pipes up to say something inane, inaccurate or otherwise insipid?
If you can answer that question with a “yes,” count yourself as saintly.
Upfront, though, these commentators have a difficult job. They have to know what they’re talking about. Breaking them down to media groups, here’s a rundown on the callers of the matches. Vote for your favorite in the poll below:
The Tennis Channel Crew
Brett Haber has a learned mastery of tennis. He’s been in sports for decades, anchoring ESPN’s Sport Center earlier in his career, but was not raised on a tennis court like his colleagues. As the naif in the booth, his job is central to a cohesive crew, which is ostensibly incongruent. He provokes expert opinions from his sidekicks, and does it in a professional manner, keeping them focused. From that angle, we can’t fault Haber. He’s enthusiastic, polished, and eager to please.
Lindsay Davenport, Leif Shiras, and Tracy Austin balance-out Haber in a pleasant relationship that perks along smoothly. Criticism of our commies often stems from their verbosity — ‘They should be quiet during points,’ is a common fan truth.
‘Just shut up’ is another.
Austin’s more monotonous delivery is acceptable if she would cut comments shorter, and let Shiras and Davenport steer the conversation. Davenport, who was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame this July and was introduced by the more polarizing Justin Gimelstob, should be crowned TC Crew Captain for her handling of her friend and co-worker on air. She is the only one who can wrestle his verbosity in a way that doesn’t disrupt the broadcast.
Gimelstob’s steady stream of gobbledygook about players, technique, and strategy execution can be so totally incomprehensible his contemporaries sit by in silence.
Let’s take his initial Davis Cup belief that, at first, the Swiss didn’t have enough fire power to dislodge the French. Pair that with the notion that, “They [French] just don’t have a big enough weapon to disrupt the Swiss team.” His assessment crossed the net a couple more times, leaving fans fatigued, unsure who did or did not have the fire power while many rolled their eyes — what the heck, does he know he’s repeating himself?
His preposterous presentation of player techniques must to go the way of his sexist comments from 2008 about Anna Kournikova.
Explaining the benefits of topspin, or the purposefulness of slice forehands, or even the smooth nature of red-clay sliding from the Europeans – as if they deserved the consciousness of a rocket scientist – is theater of the absurd. The real downside lands on listeners.
Just what the heck do these mean:
“repeatability under pressure,” “That’s how you shadow at the net,” “His [Federer’s] organization supports Africa.”
Martina Navratilova can both illuminate and undermine. However, we cannot fault her for her absolutely steadfastness in calling the game as she sees it. Rennae Stubbs is not too far behind. Softened by cosmetics and a sporty wardrobe, “Stubbsie” has learned to temper her temper, which displayed personality rather than product.
The ESPN Team
In a nutshell, John McEnroe talks too much during points. Like, would you please just chill and reconcile with the fact that the current tennis landscape no longer lends itself as much to serve and volley?
Younger brother Patrick is an icon of tennis perfectionism. He knows, with the precision of a delicate “dropper,” when to stay and when to go with his gut instincts on the air. Rarely do we hear blather from Patrick, and rarely is he chided for his commentary. He is polite and anchors a booth as well as Haber over at Tennis Channel.
Darrin Cahill is another smooth master of the mic. He’s played, continues to coach, and has serves listeners well. His Aussie accent ties in the tennis history of his home, which polishes his polite and completely on-the-money observations.
God love Chris Evert, but perhaps time has come for her to retire, taking with her those outlandish colored print dresses. Some of her work might be valid and is certainly an improvement from her first verbal volleys for ESPN. Per Sports Illustrated, Colette Evert, Chrissie’s mother, taught her never to speak badly of anyone.
Maybe that’s why she can sound so parental and pejorative.
Take, for example, the incident at Wimbledon involving Serena Williams’ bizarre behavior in her doubles match. Evert raised the question of drugs: “Is it something unintentional or intentional in her system that they may drug test for?” It wasn’t so much that Evert was bold, it was her fussy delivery that rattled listeners.
Evert’s contract is up this year with ESPN. No word on a continuance has been made available.
Without a doubt, Robbie Koenig, Jason Goodall and Nick Lester are the favorite sons. They are informative, play off one another, don’t rattle on during points, and can be down-right funny.
Koenig once described a Roger Federer slice as a “dead-cat bounce, only a couple inches off the ground.” His frequent use of “mind boggling stuff” perfectly describes repeated points and rallies, but isn’t tiring.
Mats Wilander on EuroSports takes heat for his severity. His insight is chilly and sometimes completely out of context.
Wilander, though, along with his European commentators silence themselves while points are played. The phenomena of prattling on about a match, clashes of personalities not in the match, or something that drew their attention on Twitter seems to be an American gig.
The folks at Tennis Channel, ESPN and NBC could cool the backlash their crews get if they would ask them to sit in silence at times, rather than expound. Why not take a survey? People like giving their opinions, and have been donating them on social media for years.
Who is your favorite commentary box? Vote in our TTI poll, and follow Jane on Twitter @downthetee!
Your article is thoughtful and most welcome. However, your grades are generous in the extreme. None of these folks deserve anything more than a “c” minus. If one must choose “the best” of a bad lot, my vote would go to Chris Fowler — a professional broadcaster who was NOT a pro tennis player. Why do the networks insist that taking substituting a microphone for a tennis racquet translates into coherent commentary.
TV tennis fans do have an alternative to all hyperbolic chatter. During Grand Slam events ESPN3 offers a number of matches without any announcers. It’s simply the crowd, the players and the chair umpire. To coin a phrase Bud Collins used when Breakfast at Wimbledon debuted in 1978, it’s tennis as it should be. Maybe this will catch on, too. Imagine all the money the networks could save.
I couldn’t agree more that Chris Fowler is absolutely the worst tennis commentator. He says the most inane things and is constantly being corrected by fellow commentators. I was once watching a match from Cincinnati and he made a comment that the players must have cultural shock when they come to Cincinnati. This was during a Djokovic (my favorite player) match who comes from a country where the kids practiced in an empty swimming pool. How stupid can you get? He needs to stick to football or at the very least doing tennis play by play and stop trying to do commentary.
I agree fully with your assessment of Chris Fowler. His know it all attitude (for someone who is not a professional tennis player) completely turns me off. He should stick to football, although he probably never played that either.
When I cannot take any more of his “filler” comments I hit the mute !
Johnny Mac is the worst. I always mute if he is on. Darren is the best, most insightful commentary. Chrissie has nothing to say, get her out of there. No mention of Mary Carrillo, who has a good delivery. Brad Gilbert adds humor and is willing to take risks. Pat McEnroe usually gets it right.
Allan above has it correct in my opinion. I think Darren is “spot on” and Mary Carrillo is a superb commentator, a great wordsmith. Brad is funny; Leif Shiras is insightful; I miss Cliff Drysdale; Gimelstob can be good, just over the top periodically; Stubbs is pure energy; Bud Collins is always great; Pat McEnroe is far better than John; Bret Haber keeps it all together; Davenport is very insightful, let her talk more. Don’t get the Eurosport coerage so can’t comment.
I miss Mary Carillo. We don’t get the TennisChannel in Canada and the only opportunity I have to listen to her is when NBC offers their piss-poor coverage. She was great over at ESPN and I was sad to see her go.
I’m not a big fan of Evert because she really loves to talk about her glory days. That goes double for John Mcenroe. Both are legends but c’mon, let it go.
Also, how can you write this article and not even mention Brad Gilbert? Whether you love him (as I do) or hate him he definitely is worth mentioning. He does tend to talk a lot but its always entertaining and frequently insightful.
Anyways, love the website and keep the great content coming!
I cannot stand American tennis commentators . They talk WAY TOO MUCH. even over the play.!! I have had to turn off audio just to enjoy the French Open. The worst are John Mcenroe and Mary Corrello. I can understand why they do the commentary and analysis for the tennis in the U.S, but hey, the European tennis commentators are the “best”. Please allow them to do at the very least, ALL commentary from there.
I can’t say I really dislike any of the current commentators. Just some are better than others.
Justin Gimelstob- Yes sometimes he’s annoying and a little over the top, but he’s not bad. I give him a B.
Brett Haber-Funny as he was a local sports guy in Wash DC when I lived there. He and Chick Hernandez did a team highlights show and they were hysterical together. Haber is more of straight man now. He can be a bit too kiss a$$y on the Tennis Channel to his player co-broadcasters but he’s polished.
Jon Wertheim-Very knowledgeable but I find him kind of annoying.
Chris Fowler- Great enthusiasm. A little too kiss a$$ as well.
Chris Evert-She’s ok. Kinda boring. Doesn’t say much.
Mary Joe Fernandez- I really like her. Thorough
Lindsey Davenport- I love Lindsay. She’s great to listen to.
Mary Carillo- A legend in the booth for good reason. One of the best. Period.
Ted Robinson- Great. Love him.
Pat McEnroe- My personal favorite. Patrick is so solid, polished and professional. And a real love and insight to the game.
John McEnroe- Tells it like it is. Not polished like his brother but I love John’s personality as a commentator.
Darren Cahill- Awesome. So knowledgeable, insightful, polished. If anything he’s a bit humorless sometimes.
Bill Macatee- Like a walking zombie. Goes through the motions. NOT a fan.
Tracy Austin- She’s ok. Kind of chatty….sort of like Chrissy….doesn’t say a whole lot that matters.
Martina Navratilova- I love Martina. Tells it like it is. Always enjoy listening to her. Especially her pronunciation of Czech players’ names.
Brad Gilbert- He’s good but can be a little over the top and annoying at times.
Jim Courier- I like Jim. I think he does a good job.
Cliff Dryesdale- A legend. Love him. When he and Fred Stolle did matches together, it was epic.
*PS-I wish Mal Washington would come back in the booth. He was great the few times I heard him.
Great break-down, Jamie. I wish Mal Washington would come back, too.
The first guy above ought to join “pessimists anonymous”. C- the highest? And we’ll give that guy Sinatra a C on timing and vocals… Anyway, one immediate comment: on half of the stuff on Tennis Channel overseas, they never even TELL you the announcer’s names. I know they just broadcast the local feed, but how about simply ID-ing the announcers on the crawler at the bottom.
Odd thing about Carillo, even though her occasional dog-with-a-bone fixations can be annoying, she is the ONLY one the Tennis Powers seem to allow to criticize the ridiculous Challenge System. But not enough. When will they just axe it and quickly check any questionable call? Shriver and J. Mac et al, please stop harping on how awful it is they allow players time to decide to challenge (see above) and PLEASE give it a rest on your belief that lets should be played. Fowler can be a bit snarky, I agree with most that Davenport is the best. Overall, tennis announcers are much easier on the ear than other sports’ color people.
So next can we discuss the tennis on TV’s terrible camera placement and get rid of the “pong” based Sky Cam?
I absolutely cannot stand to listen to Brett Haber go on and on and on while points are being played talking about everything and everybody rather than what is happening on the court. Chris Evert and Pam Shriver are apparently co presidents of the serena williams fan club because that’s about all they can talk about. Lindsay, Mary Carillo, Mary Jo and Stubbsie are hands above all the rest. If they could keep Brett Hebert from involving them in his constant commentary on everything that would be wonderful. However I have noticed that each of them will actually let him get them off topic and start talking about people that played 20 years ago while the match is going on. Jim Courier is great too. Justin G. and Paul Annacone are both so boring I catch myself nodding off! Johnny Mac and Mary Carillo were the best team; shame on ESPN for dumping Mary. The greatest commentator of all time will forever be Bud Collins.
Will Paul Annacone ever shut up? I have never tuned in to a tennis match to hear his commentary. I tune in to watch the top tennis players – something that Annacone never was. Coaching a top player is not being a top player. I bet Federer and Sampras had far more to do with their success than Annacone did. Yet he blathers and opines and repeats his opinions ad nauseum, as if he knows everything about how to defeat everybody. Shut him up, Tennis Channel!
Two things stand out in the last two posts: the Brett Haber critic ignores the rules of capitalization by not capitalizing ONLY Serena Williams name out of the many in the post. Now, what does THAT tell us? And criticizing Haber for getting off topic and then noting Johnny Mac as part of the greatest team of all time? I love Mac, perhaps the best, but talk about going on and on telling irrelevant stories during play. Really?
Then, while many of us find Annacone’s comments insightful and even humorous, the last poster disparages his coaching – because he is not on that long list of coaches who were great players. OK, that long list includes, uh, Lendl, Roche…and you can include Becker now and Goran Ivanisevic, who won one grand slam and coached Cilic to last year’s US Open. That’s about it, and are we waiting for Lendl’s career as a commentator? The good knowledgeable announcer/coaches were not great players. Criticize Annacone, but let’s do it objectively.
Watching Madrid final with mute on. Nightmare commentators: Annancone, Haber ,Austin. Annacone a pedantic bore! Shut up, all of you!
Watched final it was embarresing to listen to them (all three). Turned on mute.
Please please someone at tennis channel tell Ted Robinson to stop w the inane comments and inability to keep quiet. Have to mute whenever he’s on. Help!!!!
how is it even possible in 2015 that you are not able to choose if you want to have the commentator voice on or off!!! there is a new female commentator, for instance in Rome wta matches. horrible, just distracts you from the match totally. we just have to demand getting this functionality that the commentator voice can be silenced!!!
The female commentator on TC at the Geneva Open I’m finding quite enjoyable. She is very knowledgable and obviously a player herself. But she garbles her name when she announces herself. Who is she?
I think its Marion Bartoli.
aloha wendle, if youd be kind to email me when you found her name. she is the one with that cute accent, right?
definitely not Bartoli.
during the highly-entertaining Rosol/Wawrinka encounter, she identified herself as fellow Czech, and charmingly declined to translate one of her countryman’s expletives.
I find her commentary informed, incisive and refreshingly restrained, particularly in comparison to the pompous verbosity of Gimel-slob et al. Perhaps doing it solo helps in this regard?!
Only wish that TTC would do her – and we viewers – the minimal courtesy of identifying her with a simple graphic. Putting her on-camera before or after a match, or during a natural break, might also be nice…
i came to this site hoping to find answer to my big question like Wendl’s—The female commentator on TC at the Geneva Open I’m finding quite enjoyable. She is very knowledgable and obviously a player herself. But she garbles her name when she announces herself. Who is she?
The commentator for Tennis TV is Vladka Uhlirova, former WTA doubles player. She’s been doing a lot of commentary since late last year. And yes, she’s pretty damn good at it.
The comments of Douglas (“Whitney Reed”) T. are particularly astute.
Does anyone else remember fondly the brief yet incandescent on-air career of one Vytautas Kevin Gerulaitis? When he was in the booth, nowhere else you’d wanna be.
i very much like the female European commentator on tennis channel Geneva final. is it Vladka Uhlirova? every time she is on I watch even if the match isn’t interesting. she makes it enjoyable. please no more Tracy Austin
Vladka is good, but is better when she speaks with a lower pitch. Her high pitched voice is sometimes a little grating.
Just watched the French Open preview, and tried to figure out why I loathe Gimelstob. It’s because he talks in such a slow…controlled…monotone…and I fear it’s… never…going…to…end. He’s controlling. Then I looked him up online and I wish I hadn’t. A sexist jerk, universally disliked. What is the Tennis Channel thinking?
Commentator on the Keys vs Lepchenco match is too opinionated and negative.
Mary Carillo needs to go from Tennis Channel. No matter how hard she tries her voice is terrible for a commentator. I find the low raspy tone objectionable and cannot listen to it. Also, she detracts from the enjoyment of the match by talking to much and adds nothing to the analysis of the game. Glad he see that Bret Haber was not commentating at the French Open. Good riddance to that!
I think Mary Carillo is extremely knowledgeable of tennis, she injects her great sense of humor and has a soothing, even sexy, voice. If Timothy does not like Mary´s voice, then he must love Vladka
Uhlirova´s, which is the polar opposite: shrill, grating and hard to understand, regardless of her pertinence. I grant you eveyone is entitled to their opinion, but Mary has received so many professional awards for her commentary I don´t feel I´m the only one who likes her approach. Furthermore, I think most commentators DO add to the coverage because they know tennis like most of us can´t. Perhaps they talk a bit too much sometimes but most of it is meaningful. And one always has the mute button…use it! And for truly overbearing, distracting commentary, watch any ice skating show…yikes!
Vladka Uhlirova should not be a commentator for the Tennis Channel. Her English is too hard to understand and her voice becomes irritating.
My favorites are Daren Cahill, Robbie Koenig and Jason Goodall. In addition to Mary Carillo and Bret Haber I should also add John McEnroe as one I can’t stand either.
Who was the (Dutch?) female commentator (Shevdova/Bouchard match June 9, 2015). Couldn’t catch her name at the end, they said it so quickly. Sounded like Anarova? ===She is BRILLIANT, but she does talk a little TOO much, especially when they are winding up their service motion. And, as the match goes on, her voice becomes more and more SHRILL. She seems to think she has to talk CONSTANTLY, during the points. She must be a very good player because she has such keen observations. Thank you!
I’m still laughing out loud at all of the positive posts (above) for Vladka Uhlirova. The grammar and word selection makes it OBVIOUS the posts are from the Uhlirova camp.
Here are my thoughts – from an objective tennis fan and avid watcher of all things tennis: Vladka Uhlirova is the most annoying commentator on U.S. TV. Yup, even worse than John “me me me” McEnroe. Vladka’s voice is truly made for the silent screen. It is AWFUL & CRINGE WORTHY. Her cadence is ridiculously fast. Her info dump is non-stop and WAY TOO MUCH.
Tennis Channel is a joke. We all know it. But as tennis fans, it’s all we’ve got. So, AT A MINIMUM, they should use English speaking commentators on the minor league coverage (as first language). I’m sure Vladka is a sweet girl. And her tennis knowledge is solid. But DAMN, we don’t watch Tennis Channel for the commentators, we watch it for the tennis. If someone is so annoying you have to MUTE or switch channels, the idiots running Tennis Channel should get a clue and hire someone decent.
I am from NO camp, other than Welby Van Horn’s variety at Amherst College, some years ago. And I couldn’t disagree more vehemently with Michael’s disparagement of Ms. Uhlirova.
In fact, all the more so, having heard – briefly, before avidly muting or simply streaming on ESPN-3, often blissfully commentary-free – the inane blather issuing from the TC or worse, the NBC French Open teams. I’m still not sure whether Mary Carillo et al realize that the Stan-imal was victorious, since they had “called” the 4th set for Djokovic, despite what their eyes should have been telling them.
I would take any random incisive insight of Vladka’s – expressed, albeit, with her sing-song delivery and heavy Czech accent – in a hearbeat, over the hours and days of redundant idiocies and nonsensical jargon and neologisms served up by the likes of the pedantic and pseudo-self-abnegatory Mr. Gimel-slob.
For example: I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play on grass courts every summer and therefore, to have to make exactly the adjustment that the pros are attempting this week, though obviously, at a much lower level of play. And it’s never easy.
But even having done – or tried to do – this for years, I still have learned new things from Vladka’s instructive comments on what was an otherwise uninteresting opening match between Vandeweghe and Mitu at
And I’ll look forward to hearing and learning more, unless Michael
gets in the way. Vamos Vladka!
Again, Douglass (aka Whitney) nails it, though I suspect he has a bit of a Mitteleuropa crush goin’ on svelte Vladka, whoever she is. I would have thought my Vitas Gerulaitis comment three weeks ago would garner at least one reply on a website that features a map of the homeland (Long Island), but what the hay. It is Summer time and one’s thoughts turn inevitably to … the Hamlet Cup?!!!!
Best commentary team for me was a few years back at the Oz Open.
Jim Courier and Roger Rasheed. Both highly entertaining, energetic and animated delivery of their insights. Worst commentator was the monkey that was with them Todd Woodbridge who learnt his lines by rote.
Douglas oh Douglas, “sing-song delivery and heavy Czech accent” is not a vehement disagreement. It is actually agreeing with the problems with Vladka. That is, unless you like heavy accents and sing-song delivery.
Again, the accent is only part of the problem. Her annoying voice makes my ears bleed. Her phrases (like many of the positive Vladka posts) is clearly the result of Google Translate or English as a second language peeps in her camp trying to save her undeserved gig on Tennis Channel.
Vladka Uhlirova is the worst commentator on Tennis Channel today. I literally will not watch a match she is calling. Sad, because I love tennis, but hitting mute means the idiots running Tennis Channel are winning. I’d rather skip the second tier match than let that happen. (-;
I’ve been searching desperately to find out who this ANNOYING commentator is. Please someone fire her!! Can she please shut the hell up and let us watch tennis. Her accent, speed and pitch is all wrong for tennis. I absolutely can’t watch a match even a good one when she is commentating.
I’m not exactly 100% in love with anyone of them, except for Davenport because their slobbering love affair with Serena Williams renders them all null & void. If they’d start inquiring into Serena’s unnatural mass body index, and her overall masculine physique, and her almost certain doping up with (PED’S & Roid’s) which has long been suspected since way back in the 2000 season, and also, calling her out on her cheating, dishonesty, & hypocrisy! And I also believe that they should be calling for an independent investigation into Serena’s illegal drug usage too. Until these things have been addressed then I believe they all need to be suspended! Oh yeah, and someone from upper echelons of the WTA Organization needs to verify that she’s had no sex change surgeries during the first 4-5 year’s of her life, as well as verifying that her (birth certificate & I.D.) are both 100% legitimate, and if it isn’t then Serena’s got to GO!!!
Don’t know who is commentator for Keys/Maria match today but referring to the women players as girls needs to be corrected..Would he refer to the men as ‘boys’…??
Thank you for your comment, Irene. I didn’t hear the commentary for this match. However, I have heard English (predominantly) commentators refer to women as girls, yet not refer to men as boys. Annoying indeed. Usually, ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ refer to junior player categories: Girls’ Singles and Boys’ Singles.
They should be called girls. Im 47 and I call myself a boy.
Annacone may be a great coach and ok in the studio. He and Gimelstob never shut-up in the booth. Verbose is too kind.They talk crazy.Annacone tells viewers what players “think” and how players “feel”. I want Tennis Channel Everywhere, but I do not want to PAY to listen to them.
Thanks Annette. I am wondering how they know what a players is thinking and looking down from their perspective, it is always easy to quarterback after a play. Gimbleslob, love it, and Paul Annacone are the worst and my most satisfaction came at the French Open, when they were Uberexpounding on Novak’s superb playing skills the first game, only to be silenced by Stan’s awesome comeback. Please….just do the play by play, stop the bullshit or I do as I do most of the time and hit the mute button. I also agree that the sing song voice of Vladka is so very much annoying, even if she seems to be quite knowledgeable. Mary Carillo, Lindsay Davenport and the McEnroe brothers are acceptable. Also, I am appalled that no one has called Serena out for her unbelievable court antics of screaming and shouting and trying to intimidate her opponents. Such poor sportsman like conduct should be addressed. Glad to see Roberta Vinci beat her at the US Open. Trying to leave the Tennis Channel, have only seen the men play in the last few weeks and here and there a woman’s match. WFT?
Favorite tennis announcers Chrissy Everett, John McEnroe, Brad Gilbert and Justine Gimbolstob. They present excellent analysis of tennis. The worst is Mary Carello who has a record of hating on the Wiliams sisters stated , (Serena should be band
from tennis for life and continued battering over the years, laughing at their hair style (beads) gb etc. Listen to the old tapes and hear the hate.
.. ESPN did the world a favor.
Tennis needs to be very aware of those who do not support Americas greatest TENNIS Player in our time.
Paul Annacone is the worst.! His horrible monotone voice and non stop dialogue while the ball is in play just drives me crazy. I mute the TV while he is in the booth. Please get rid of him. Please!!
I am trying to watch Tennis Channels Gavrilova/Safarova match at Montreal this minute BUT that extremely annoying, loud, speedy and not understandable announcer moves me to change the channel every time she broadcasts.
robby Koenig (sp) is the best announcer. Patrick McEnroe a close second. I get very tired of jonn mc living in the past. davenport is good carrillo sucks
Fowler ‘s aim is to drown everyone out. He is not a gentleman or even a good sport. Does he
play a sport? He is the GENERIC LOUDMOUTH and has no idea how obnoxious he is. Take a vacation Chris.
I CANNOT listen to Vladka Uhlirova! Hard to understand and annoying. I wish it wasn’t so because she has good tennis knowledge but her semi-undecipherable chatter is too distracting. And professional announcers should not be making grammatical errors or abusing idioms. I know and love Eastern European accents as I lived in Poland for many years teaching English. But I also love my tennis and I want to listen to a match where I’m not trying to figure out what was just said or am cringing at her misuse of the language. Vladka, let’s go get a vodka! 🙂
I am trying to think of an announcer who doesn’t talk over the playing. That should be sacrosanct for all announcers. They know better and yet they all still do it. I, too, wish there were an option of being able to listen to the play and the players and the court side crowds without having the incessant drone of inanity spewed forth from the announcers. Are they paid by the word? I have taken to muting constantly back and forth just hoping for those too few moments when it is only tennis and those few times between plays that we get the sounds of tennis only and not some announcers dribble. ESPN are you listening?
I love watching tennis on TV, but hate all the jibber jabber by so many commentators, esp. ESPN. HEY! Talking during play is a HUGE no-no. And PLEASE, learn the proper pronunciation of their names, ie, it’s (Raonic) r-owww-n-itch, NOT ray-on-ick, and it’s (Fognini) f-oh-neenee, NOT fog-neenee, SHEESH. I can’t wait till my Smart TV has the capability to turn the commentary off but still hear the on-court sounds. I just had to get that off my chest HAGD! 🙂
Curious to know the commentators on the ESPN3 streaming on WTA matches. The ATP matches seem to have more recognizable commentators. But with the WTA matches, some of them have been atrocious. Surprisingly bad and it’s killing me that I don’t know who they are.
One’s I have enjoyed:
– Chanda Rubin: Soft-spoken, quiet during points though a bit insight-lite, but she’s knows when to provide some technical information
– Unknown: I enjoyed the two female announcers during the Muguruza/Konta match. Don’t know who they were but they were playful, quiet, fun and provided some interesting theories on strategies the players should use.
– Renee Stubbs. Quite good actually, don’t know who her partner is and I’ve heard her now in a couple of matches.
Bad, bad, bad:
– Right now I am watching Mladenovic/Kasatkina and the two announcers are horrifying. The female blathers on and on like someone who thinks she knows what she’s talking about and half the time she talks ridiculousness. They are commentating on a match with a Lucky Loser young player who is 18 years old and are criticising her without any foundation. And she talks and talks.
– During yesterday’s Ostapenko/Errani match you had the supremely aggravating Luke Jensen who I still marvel gets work! He tries to be so hip and fun. He pronounced Ostapenko – OstRapenko and kept criticising her for choking! She’s 18. And his partner was just as bad. And they wouldn’t shut up.
Anyone been listening to some of these Tier 3 🙂 announcers?
I’m sorry, but I don’t know all the commentators on ESPN.3, except for the ones you’ve mentioned plus Fred Stolle, an Australian who won two Grand Slam in singles. Sometimes it’s just best to hit ‘mute.’ Enjoy the rest of the Open. Thank you for your comment.
ESPN have some good commentators, i like Darren Cahill he’s informative as is Mary Jo, Mike Tirico, Patrick Mac. Hannan Storm, LZ Grandson are a waster of space, why even have them on the tennis. For TC I like Lindsay D too, she’s easy to listen to but Brett Haber for me is just a long winded non expert, trying to be an expert, he talks way to much with better people around him, he’s like espn Fowler, you’re not the experts, leave the analyzing to them! I mute them both. Jim Courier is excellent , Justin Gimblestob is non stop mumble jumble dribble and seems sexist when on screen with Austin. Austin and her dresses are just annoying, her content is ok but she’s just a mute button for me and Jon Wiethem, isn’t he a writer, as in he should not be on TV, he is just weird on tv. Stubbs is fun and always informative just confused what channel she’s on now, i guess more Espn. Hopefully more of her and less of Pam Shriverv who seems like she wants to talk over everyone. Chris Evert who says “you know”, in almost every sentence! Great player but just doesn’t seem like she’s plugged in to the game now.
John McEnroe has to go. He is a charming raconteur, but he has so much to say during tennis matches that I sit with my finger on the mute button. He would be better served with his own talk show, but please—–not as a commentator during matches.
Once upon a time John McEnroe had a prime time talk show on CNBC. They paid McEnroe $1 million for one year. It was cancelled after 6 month. McEnroe managed to get viewer ratings to absolute zero. It was a horrible failure.
The absolute best commentators are Robbie Koenig, Nick Lester and Cliff Drysdale. I like them because they speak grammatically good English, are clever, know the game, aren’t biased in their commentary, and they are all humble. You don’t have that combination with any of the American commentators.
Even though I like Mary Carrillo’s wit, I can’t believe how biased she is toward Roger and Serena. It’s to the point of being sappy. I almost expect her to be holding a little Roger doll and hugging it during his match.
I called the combination of her and Davenport and Shriver the harpie team. They go on and on getting nasty about the players faults. You never hear that from the announcers I mentioned above. I do respect for the players and how much work and heart and soul they put into every match.
But the most important part is that Koenig, Drysdale and Lester have great respect for the game and keep their mouth shut during play. I remember a match where the player was furious with Pam Schriver because he could hear her talking and denigrating him during the match as she was on the sidelines talking to the people in the booth during the point. Of course those in the booth laughed and thought it was funny and couldn’t believe the player was being so unreasonable. The nerve if these pompous asses. They actually think we would rather hear about their career and watch what’s on television. I could write forever on this but you get the point.
I wish I could add some hashtags, so that the chance of Tennis Channel decision makers might see…
But a bigger, and my biggest wish is that Brett Haber get the hook as soon as possible. He is beyond annoying — really gets on my nerves. He’s got a snarky, know-it-all tone and must memorize all the gossip from TMZ, OK magazine, US magazine, and the other lessor sources who do not bother to fact-check… and by regurgitating questionable rumors, he erodes the credibility of The Tennis Channel. This is not just my opinion — I’ve dozen of tennis friends who also cannot stand him…. and basically consider his hiring as a financial bargain to rationalize his airtime, and turn off the sound whenever he is calling a match. With all the talent out there, why keep him?!!
Indeed, it’d be easy to show Brett Haber the door because many of the veterans have improved so much over the years. So let’s all hope TC quickly gets rid of Brett Haber — even if costs considerable buy-out money, since it is well-worth it!
I started watching tennis on espn in early ’80’s. The main reason I am a tennis fan today is the due to the then team of Cliff Drysdale, Fred Stolle and Mary Carillo. The one thing I most remember of those days? They NEVER talked while the ball was in play! Cliff still adheres to that. I don’t her Fred very often these days.Mary has become a motormouth especially during the first set of a match when she talks incessantly during play.
espn, tennis channel: I challege you to put up a survey to include the most annoying things of your tennis broadcasts and then DO something about it!
I too live for the day when we can mute commentators and listen to the match if we were there.
Rule number 1 for broadcasters: your viewers tune in to watch the match. We do not tune in to hear a gab-fest from former players or comments about celebrities or some other sport while a match is being broadcast. There is NOTHING so important that it has to be said during play.
I dare you to try this.
My appreciation of and affection for Bud Collins goes back to the mid-70s when he and Donald Dell teamed to provide commentary for PBS tennis coverage. Without constant commercial interruptions, Bud and Donald were on-air for the duration of the matches. Bud kept my interest with his encyclopedic knowledge of the game mixed with his nicknames for players. I will never forget his tidbits about such immortals as Fingers Fortesquieu. I cannot imagine that most of today’s commentators could hold my attention today like Bud did “back in the day.” Even today, I relish any opportunity to hear Bud on-air.
Love Martina Nav, Linday D., Johnny Mac, and Mary Carillo. I can’t stand when they bring in the ESPN sports commentators who don’t really know tennis. One person I find unpleasant is Chissy Evert, who I find very judgmental and whiny! I turn the sound off when she is speaking.
I want to hear the racket hit the ball and the ball hit the court not the jabbering of former wooden racket tennis players. School Marmish Evert drives me nuts!