Tennis is the best sport. Here's why...

Okay, I know I’m in the thin minority of people who actually feel this way. More shockingly, I’m not even talking about playing tennis; I’m talking about watching it on television.

It is the best sport to watch and follow and here are my reasons why. Discuss.

**1. It’s a individual sport, so you are rooting for a person, not a “team”. **

No city loyalties. I dont even see it as country loyalties outside the Davis Cup, which is played for free and is no longer the main focus of tennis. Tennis is about the individual battling it out against another individual.

2. No helmets, padding, or uniforms.

You can actually see the players and identify who is who. You can learn their personalities just by watching the sport. Usually, my favourite players are the ones with the most interesting personalities, not solely based on how talented they are or where they are from.

3. Every match has epic potential.

It has no time limit, but also is not days long like cricket. Every match has the chance to run over 4 hours, but most aren’t so you don’t expected to be bored(like baseball). My favourite sport moments consist of watching the epic fifth sets between giants of tennis. When they’ve been out there 5+ hours, you can see it on their faces and in their stagger.

                     **3a. Every match is broken into sets and games.** Therefore, even if it is an epic 5 hour match, it hasn’t been one building collection of points with no conclusion in sight. Every match is made of sets that are made of games that are made of points. Every point/volley matters.

4. There is a point to having a women’s game.

I have the WNBA. It’s just a weaker version of the men’s game. In tennis, however, the style of play is different and equally interesting. No rule changes either, except shorter matches in the majors. It’s the same game with a different style. It’s worthwhile. Not to mention in mixed doubles, they can actually play together, with its own unique results!

5. It’s played on different surfaces and the surfaces make signifigant impact.

Hard Court. Clay. Grass. Carpet. Each poses its own challenges and mixes up the game in a good way. Players can specialize into one surface and a great player has to learn to adapt to all surfaces. Only a handfull of people have won majors on Clay, Grass, and Hard Courts. It’s good for the sport and it’s fun to watch. I love that Pete Sampras could never get it finished on the clay. This man won 14 majors and couldn’t win it all on clay. It’s great.

6. No season. It runs all year!

Yes, there is almost no down time in tennis. If you want to be a pro tennis player, you have to be ready to play probably 10-11 months out of the year. Hardcore. Absolutely hardcore.

Agree? Disagree? I’m sure I’ll think of more points later and I’m sure you’ll “prove” me wrong as well.

True, but you can still root for a “country”. Most of England seems to support Tim Henman, even though he’s shite at tennis, and a pretty boring person by all accounts.

Well, this is only a point against American football, ice hockey, and a few other smaller sports, really. Baseball, soccer, basketball, field hockey, athletics, etc. you could say the same thing about. Besides, the personalities of the players don’t make the sport itself any better.

Surely if you have favourite sport moments, then there are some you also like less; ergo, not all matches are epic. You like the games between giants? Well, I suspect matches between giants in any sport are likely going to be pretty interesting.

Also a good point. Tennis is probably the best in terms of support, talent, and interest in female players among the most popular sports.

True, but those aren’t continuous months. There’s downtime between tournaments, which don’t actually last that long (Wimbledon, for example, lasts only two weeks, assuming you’re playing in both the doubles and singles, and you get to the finals). There’s going to be a lot of training in between, but that’s true for every sport.

Bear in mind I really don’t like tennis, so my responses are probably coloured by that.

I should not have said giants. Andy Roddick vs. Younis El Aynaoui, who is hardly a giant, is one of the great matches I’ve ever seen. Granted, Sampras vs. Agassi is great, but I almost prefer that Roddick El Aynaoui match. 5 hours. Torture. Tennis appeals to a bit of pain fettish in people.

I was wrong to mention giants. El Aynaoui is quite low ranked.

Although I don’t follow it as much anymore, tennis used to be the only sport I actually kept up on (aside from the teams I was obligated to root for). I think your point about the individual players is what makes it. I assumed you meant personality in terms of playing style, not ‘off the court’ necessarily, and I think that is a big part of what makes it interesting.

As to the epic nature of matches, I’d sort of disagree. Or at least redefine ‘epic’. I wouldn’t say ‘every point counts’. Instead, it’s often the case that there is a key game, maybe even a key point, maybe even a key volley, that can turn the tide. The best matches will have multiple such events. But — especially in the 5-setters in the majors — the players will pace themselves between those moments. You watch one of those fiercely fought games, it’s almost invariably followed by a love game. Sometimes multiple ones. Or even a whole set (this can be a downside — there have been matches, often finals, where nobody plays except during the tiebreakers).
On the other hand, you can never really tell when that key moment is going to come. Even those loosely played games at the start of a set can lead to a tough battle for a break as soon as someone makes a mistake (and again, it comes down to the player). Or sometimes the crowd suddenly shifts toward one player or the other. That makes it a sport that can be great to watch.

Tennis is almost as boring as golf, and even more boring than American football. So I’d say it ranks down there with Saved by the Bell on the Big List of the Worst Things to Put on Television.

I kinda agree with friedo. It is Pong with people. Like golf or poker and a couple of other televised ‘sports’, it is something that people should play rather than watch. I love to play tennis, but rarely watch it.

If slow-moving rectangles in a videogame are as exciting as people dashing back and forth, not to mention forward and back, you at least need to have your TV set checked out.

Anyway, Mahaloth does sum up a lot of the reasons I watch tennis whenever I can. The biggest single element, for me, is the human drama. A singles match is one player against another. There’s no coaching, and your success or failure is entirely on you (which, unfortunately, has to contribute to the sullen and bratty nature of some players). That’s just great stuff. Only boxing has the same individual competition going on, and it doesn’t interest me for a lot of reasons - it has judges, it’s too brutal for me, and I think the sport is generally corrupt.

Metal raquets have ruined the game. It is so boring now.
Go back and watch the 1980 Wimbledon final. That is exciting tennis.
Now it is just ace,ace, double faULT, unplayable serve, double fault.
The raquets are too powerful. It is all about power, not skill. If John McEnroe was playing today he would not make the top 20.

I think both individual and team sports are worth watching.
Just because US players don’t demand huge sums of money to play Davis Cup doesn’t mean it’s not important. The reverse in fact.

Again it’s really the US sports that have all this equipment. Rugby is a contact sport and they don’t wear padding.

Every match certainly does not have epic potential. Watch women’s tennis, where the leading players routinely crush their opposition in straight sets.
Also every point does not matter. Players can lose a set while they recover from a knock, or go through a bad patch.

I think the best of 3 set matches is quite a change. But certainly mixed doubles has it’s own style of play.

I certainly agree the surfaces matter!

Very true.

After consideration though, I must say that for me rugby sevens wipes tennis off the map.

  1. The action is continuous (unlike tennis with its regular breaks after each game.)
  2. Every player has to be totally alert throughout and know his place in the team setup.
  3. Every score is likely to matter.
  4. Players play flat out all the time.
  5. Watching players like Serevi run at nearly full speed, then suddenly stop dead is unbelievable.
  6. Players use swerves, sidesteps and dummies. A joy to watch!

friedo Care to elaborate on any point? Useless post.

blinkingblinking I do agree about the metal raquets. They should have gone baseball’s route and avoided metal. On the other hand, you are quite wrong about it being “serve, double fault, and so on”. Watch the French Open. They have huge rallies with many hits. Net play is still quite a factor.

But you are right, they did lose the smooth finesse of wooden raquets.

glee I agree about American sports. As an American, I’m sadly limited in my ability to watch Rugby, Cricket, and other rather “European” sports. Tennis is actually about as close a European sport I can easily see.

Great points. Has anyone here been the the French Open? If so, I’m extremely jealous.

This is so far from true that it’s the polar opposite of the reality of the current men’s game.

The high-powered ace guys routinely get knocked out in the first round of the Slams. It’s the finesse players that go the distance. Federer is not a power guy, for example; rather, he’s an agile, cunning player who just loves the slice. Slices don’t move very fast. He’s all about placement, as is the rest of the higher tier of men’s players these days.

I recommend watching the finals tomorrow for evidence of this.

Could you elaborate? I can’t tell a difference in style except the following points:

  1. Women don’t tend to aim for the lines, but rather serve up meatballs that bounce near the service line.

  2. Women don’t chase down nearly as many balls as the men do. I’m not entirely sure why; perhaps they are slower? Most of the time it’s pretty clear they couldn’t have gotten to it anyway, or they slipped or something, which is the same as the men’s game. But far too often they won’t even make an effort at a shot they probably could get to. Conversely, the men seem to chase down everything they have a chance at, even hours into a match.

I welcome being set straight on these points.

I watched a (very) little bit of rugby a couple years back after debating the game with dopers. My impression was that very few players are playing flat out at any given time.

When the ball was on the ground with players tussling for it, for instance, there were always several guys just sort of standing around right next to them waiting for the ball to come out. While that’s surely the correct thing to do, that’s hardly “playing flat out all the time.” I never saw everybody on the field sprinting at the same time. Hell, I almost never recall seeing everyone even jogging at the same time. If you count up the total number of player-minutes where guys were (likely appropriately) just sort of hanging around or lightly jogging into place, that number would be staggeringly high.

Agreed that between-the-whistles “action” in football consist of everybody walking (or maybe jogging) back to the huddle, but whenever the ball is in play, literally everybody is playing flat-out. I just don’t see it in rugby.

Also, it annoys me when people call football “rugby with pads” for many reasons. I know you didn’t, but this is as good a place as any to mention this. First, there were multiple fatalities per month in football before they started using pads. How many players does rugby kill? Also, from what I can gather, rugby doesn’t have blocking or tackling. Sure, you can do arm tackles, but that’s as much of a tackle as soccer has; not much.

Rugby looked cool for what I saw, but it seemed to me like football without passing, and also diluted by not having stoppages between plays. Stoppages add intensity, as we can see from boxing. Take away breaks between rounds and you’ll get nothing but clinches after about 5 minutes.

I wouldn’t expect anyone to enjoy the long version of cricket. Several days worth of play, and you can easily have a draw with no prospect of a finish. :rolleyes:
Quick cricket (20 overs each) is fine.
I wouldn’t call cricket European! The main countries playing are England, Australia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, the West Indies and South Africa.

Sadly the rugby 7’s is not well publicised. There is an international circuit, which I strongly recommend :cool: , which has a US leg:

Well you’re talking about 15-a-side rugby (there’s also a 13-a-side version).
Once you put just 7-a-side on a full sized pitch, I can assure you they are all flat out throughout.

I think any sport that has ‘multiple fatalities per month’ is incredibly stupid. :eek:
(Didn’t they strap players together in American football around 1900?)
Rugby outlaws practices that are life-threatening (such as a stiff-arm tackle neck-high on a player running at full speed past you).

Rugby certainly has tackling. (Blocking is illegal.) The arms must contact first. I can assure you you need to be tough and well-trained to cope without pading.
(Does American football allow a leaping leg kick to the face? If not, it sounds wimpy to me :smiley: )

I think American football overdoes the breaks. One after every play!
Even after the teams have set up, there’s a 30 second clock before play must restart. Then you have three separate squads running on and off the field, plus the game is broken into quarters.

Have a look at 7-a-side rugby. There are no clinches.

Well, one of the unfortunate aspects of women’s tennis is that during the past 7 years or so, the differences between the men’s game and women’s game are becoming less and less. With the elimination of wooden raquets, the women’s game had retained more of the finesse and “shot placement” of the wooden era(since they don’t hit it nearly as hard).

Really, from the Williams sisters on, the women’s game has turned into a more power-oriented game as well. Martina Hingis quit for quite a few years due to the fact she just could not compete with the power game. She was my favourite female player at the time and I hated to see her go.

She’s back of course now and doing fairly well. She’s upped her power, but the women’s game is becoming more of what I was afraid of.

Men’s Tennis-Lite


I’ll add one more as well, having just watched the French Open Men’s Final.

7. No Downtime!

No Halves. No Quarters. No Periods. No Time-outs, unless a player is injured. In fact, you only have 30 seconds between serves and almost no time between games(even when switching sides).

If you play a 4 hours match, you play a four-hour match!


Um, sorry but that doesn’t make sense. Each rally is punctuated by players walking back, then preparing to serve. As you say up to 30 seconds each time.
Also there is a break between games as players towel off. Assuming on average 6 serves per game and 10 games per set, then over a 4 set match a break of 20 seconds each time gives (6104 / 3) minutes delay - that’s well over an hour not playing!

If you play a 4 hour match, you play a 3 hour match. :frowning:

Okay, fine. I see your point. But certainly we can see the difference between many extremely short pauses and a few very long pauses, right? It’s never 30 seconds really between points. I think that is just the maximum and never occurs.

No halves. No Quarters. No Periods. And my favourite, No Time-outs. Oh, and no instant-replay.


That’s true, but it can’t be more downtime than in football (I read somewhere that there are 12 actual minutes of action in a 60-minute game that takes three hours to play) or baseball. Or basketball, as much as I like it, where the last two minutes of the game take as long as the rest of the game.

Yes, it’s the timeouts and quarters that frustrate me. I don’t mind when they pause to take a free throw after there is a foul. That’s set-up time. Tennis has set-up time, but very little rest-time or down-time.