01 June 2005

Tennis Rocks

I love tennis. Far and away, this is my favorite spectator sport. And, if I was athletically inclined, it would probably be my favorite to play. I generally like individual sports anyways--something is exciting about knowing someone is out there with just whatever is going on between their ears. This is why I like kickers so much in football. You can just tell they're not really part of the team, that they're a breed apart from the rest. You need cojones to go it alone. Then again, relying on the other guys in a team can be scary, as can facing them in the locker room if you monumentally screwed up somehow. But still, the stakes just don't seem as high as in the solo sports. Underdog victories feel bigger, the true champions seem even more stratospheric, and the heartbreaking losses seem to linger even more.

The French Open is the big event du jour (note the (incorrect) use of a French phrase to describe something French--wasn't that subtle?). In that spirit, I thought I'd give some reasons for why I've grown to love this major, and I'll try to be mostly sincere, because I really do like it, and so should you:

(10) The candid people shots are filled with French people looking very fashionably French and doing things like feeding custard to their incredibly tiny dogs.

(9) Unlike the stringent Wimbledon rules (as white as possible with very little color! oh, and that goes for the clothing, too), the French (they are fashionable) encourage designer tennis duds. Bright cheerful colors are the order of the day, and previously unseen portions of tennis players will be exposed daily. Um, on the court, of course, and very tastefully...I mean, respectfully. Nevermind.

(8) The surface is clay! Add really hot temps and a lot of sweat, and you basically have as close to a tennis mud-wrestling match as you'll ever get.

(7) A couple years ago, I would have said this major event was your best chance to not see the Williams sisters play eachother in the final. Now, your best chance to not see them play in a final is basically whenever Venus devotes too much time to her fashion career (she's very fashionable, too, so I'm guessing she's part French), which is pretty much always.

(6) You can discover that John McEnroe is physically incapable of pronouncing any name that (a) is not "American" (b) has more than three syllables (c) has the letter "x" or "z." You will also discover that he seems to have very little to say when the more "obscure" (i.e. not American) players are playing.

(5) You get to repeatedly hear that the French crowd is very "tough" and "partisan," because sports should not be about caring who wins or loses. Unless the French crowd goes for an American (if there is an American who can actually make it into the second week anymore), which is okay because it serves as reparations for whatever the French have done wrong this year.

(4) You'll no longer have to imagine what it would look like for a giant, fuzzy yellow ball to fly around the Eiffel Tower. And I know it's been keeping you up at nights, trying to imagine it. What will those special effects wizards dream-up next!

(3) The injury treatments just seem sexier at the French Open. Maybe because it's late springtime, and love is in the air. Or maybe it's just me....

(2) Spain is the winter training ground of all Europe. Spain has clay courts. Therefore, all European players are adept at clay. Florida is the winter training ground for Americans. It does not have clay courts. Therefore, American players with few exceptions drop like flies (very sexy, fashionable flies) at Roland Garros. Therefore, you get to learn about the rest of the tennis world, which is basically Spain for the men and Russia for the women. Therefore, you'll feel a little smarter at the country club this weekend. But then you realize you don't belong to a country club. And then you're not happy. But then you see the yellow ball fly around the Eiffel Tower, and hear McEnroe butcher another name, and all is right in the world.

and the number one reason to watch the French Open:
(1) All the season finales are done, and watching that "Dancing with the Stars" reality show isn't cutting it.


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