They descend on the city every January with their face paint, flag capes, sun visors, backpacks and boat shoes. They herald the dawn of a season like Christmas beetles on the lawn, like when the appearance of supermarket crumpets whispered winter in your ear.
Suddenly, a town that gives two fifths of stuff all time to tennis hands itself over to a sport and culture which leaves a sour taste in the mouth and the stench of aspirational entitlement in the air.
Eighty percent of the time I am a ‘whatever floats your boat’ kind of man, but these tennis folk really test my patience. No, this is not an argument about how boring the game is or how stupid the grunting is or how all the little rules and conventions make it feel like an oppressive nanny state sport.
No, these arguments are anathema to the real issue tennis brings every summer.
Tennis has questionable values, as do tennis folk, and that is the simple truth. And the whole ‘it is an individual sport so you are going to get some sense of arrogance’ counter -argument is bunk. At the risk of descending into nostalgia, loving up to the ghosts of Lew Hoad and Newk and Ken Rosewall (not sure how many of these guys are actually ghosts mind you), it has always been an individual sport and you didn’t see the level of inherent flogness throughout the narrative presented by tennis to the world. In fact, at one time, tennis was all about manners and humility. Imagine?
Going further than that, tennis is a flogocracy – a system designed to pander to and ultimately controlled by flogs.
The pervading sense of entitlement and self absorption in the sport has gone beyond critical levels since the moment Pat Rafter – the last great Australian player (sorry, Lleyton was a flog too) retired. Never has, at least in the Australian game, such a conga line of overhyped mediocrity sullied the great traditions of Australian sport.
Philippousis, Tomic, Kyrgios – the troika of sound and fury signifying nothing except the manifestation of everything distasteful in this toilet of an era and sham of a sport. They can count their millions, despite inherent shiteness and a disgraceful attitude, because the sport is so awash with money that you can still earn a reasonable quid for COMPLETELY GIVING UP during a match.
And so every January we are subjected to the orgiastic circle jerking of tennis folk who declare like that young lad who cried wolf that a new Aussie champion has arrived and shouts their legend from the rooftops, only to find that by the end of the first week the only Australians left on the courts are the army of willing ball children who fetch and carry like grateful underlings.
These are the kids being taught appalling self centred values in dwindling local tennis clubs. They are being taught to excel in tantrum throwing and deflecting the blame for your performance or behaviour. They are the ones being shouted at by ugly, pushy parents who normalise poor behaviour and their ugly, icky, distasteful flog values.
Yes, we get the fact there has been a throng of willing ne’er do wells that almost nearly push their way into the second week and are trying so bloody hard to maintain that top 100 ranking and no one knows how hard it is on tour…
Australian Tennis and by association the Australian Open stinks. It isn’t interesting or engaging and as the fragmentation of world sport continues apace, it will hopefully go the way of wooden tennis rackets.
Humanity can evolve beyond tennis. Let’s pray that Charles Darwin has the last word.