Joel Drucker Answers the Mail
Joel Drucker’s recent article on Roger Federer, “Getting A Bit Fed Up,” has generated a record number of comments from TennisOne readers. Here are more thoughts from Joel.
“To speak the plain truth is getting pretty darn dull around here.” - from the film, Blazing Saddles
First of all, I commend and thank the TennisOne community for its passionate engagement with our sport. Rare – and yes, greatly appreciated.
So to get to the heart of the matter.
First, as I noted previously, what players do outside the lines will never be more than 49 percent of how I evaluate them. Most of all, I try – and comments and insights from readers are part of the mosaic – to understand what goes on inside the lines. And on that count, I’m like just about everyone on the planet and quite dazzled by Roger Federer.
But it’s the other forces – what I’ll call the forces of the market – that seek to protect and advance any player’s cause as if he was more of a corporation than an athlete.
Federer vs Sampras . . .
I’m well aware how significant and debilitating mono can be. I never disputed Federer’s right to have an illness. But even after reading so many comments, I don’t see what’s accomplished by him talking about it. Many readers told me that he made the announcement because he had been hounded so much by our contemporary, fast-paced, information-hungry media. Of course there are many things media – and, by extension, readers, viewers and listeners – want to know about notable people. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to tell them. So if I’m Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray – the two guys who’ve beaten Federer this year – I’d be a bit retroactively insulted to have a significant win tainted by the opponent issuing an excuse.
This ties to a question I was asked by several TennisOne readers: Have I ever played competitive sports? Yes. Like many of you, I’m an active recreational tennis player, having competed in juniors, high school and USTA league and tournament tennis. That experience is one major reason I’m vexed that Federer would go public with an illness. Tell me: Following a big win in a tournament or league match, would any of you like hearing a week later from your opponent that he was sick during that match? I am a crusader against this kind of public belly-aching.
. . . entertaining? Maybe, but is the stuff
that tennis needs?
Yes, of course I know that athletes play hurt all the time. But that doesn’t mean they have to talk about it.
Federer vs Sampras
On another topic, Federer holding back versus Sampras, I appreciate the comments that reminded me that this was an exhibition and therefore should be viewed more as entertainment than full-throttle competition. Several readers even told me it was tennis’ equivalent of a staged wrestling match.
Great. This is exactly the kind of credibility-reducing event tennis needs. Concoction and artifice are supposed to be good things?
Finally, I was struck by the comments that told me to relax, get over it or not get so worked up. Alas, it’s my business to bring passion to a subject I love. There come moments when a writer gets to call attention to something others may feel but for a number of reasons can not or will not express. So be it – and thanks for all your feedback.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
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The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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