By: Jane Voigt
Millions make resolutions to begin a new year. Others take stock for reasons to be thankful.
First and foremost, the players.
Everyone ranked within the ATP and WTA, whether lavishly praised at the top like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, to those who bounce in and out of the Top 100, to those whose lives we know nothing of but will notice at some point in 2015. All of these players are heroes, win or lose. They are committed to the sport. They love and live it, 24/7. At times it all looks so grand, a lifestyle many wish they could have. And yet, the novelty certainly can wear thin for players over five or ten years. The spirit of endurance and dedication must rise like the sun every day in its place.
Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known speech, commonly referred to as, “The Man in the Arena,” is a bold reminder of the players we’ll follow, watch, and analyze in 2015:
“ … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat … who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again … who knows great enthusiasm … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst … fails while daring greatly …”
And what about the folks that hold and mold the tournaments themselves? The administrative staffs of the ATP, WTA, ITF, Davis Cup and Grand Slam Committees work behind the scenes to provide seamless productions of tennis entertainment. They travel from the comfort of home and family millions of miles across oceans and countries to become integral parts of operations, a system that presents world-class tennis. Journalists are amongst these contributors, trying to “never [to] get between the viewer and the action,” as 2014 International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee John Barrett was directed by the BBC early in his multi-faceted career.
And there is no finer example of a career extended in the right direction than that represented by Todd Martin. The former tennis professional who retired in 2004 was elected CEO of The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum in September. The Hall of Fame will be guided by an experienced man with well-grooved relationships to maintain and expand its many contributions to the international game, the upkeep and preservation of the museum of utmost import when considering that which it presents to the public inside a building that reminds many of tennis’s own Hogwart’s.
Tennis Channel is right up there on this list of gratitude. A channel purely dedicated to the game we love. Though we chastise some of its programming choices – and even, at times, the people calling the matches – thousands would be adrift without it. Couple that network with ESPN3 and every other live streaming outlet, plus pay-for streaming like Tennis TV.
Plus, for goodness sake, the ATP web site is even offering “Free Live Streaming, Year-Round, World-Wide,” of its Challenger Tour. Gone are the days of NBC, CBS, and ABC weekends, where taped matches showed only major tournaments. Tennis fans can now watch live tennis year round. That’s astonishing.
Twitter and Instagram are grateful additions to our game, as well. Nothing much beats witnessing an exciting match from one of hundreds of countries while tweeting amongst buddies from around the world. The insight, humor and relay of solid information by dependable — and at times not so dependable, so be careful — reporters, experts, and casual fans is a day extremely well spent. The feeling of community is the best.
And, finally, tennis is a non-violent sport. Hurrah for that. Players do not ram into each others’ heads or cold-cock opponents when angry or believe they’ve been mistreated. Trainers and doctors aren’t prescribing, or over prescribing, run-of-the-mill pain killers plus myriad opiates in order to combat pain associated with on-court contact. Tennis is not hockey, football, or soccer … thankfully. Brains are not rattled. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is not a problematic stat behind the scenes.
Now, let the games begin with a perspective of gratitude blowing across the courts.
Follow Jane on Twitter @downthetee!