Thursday, July 09, 2015

A big noise in tennis

One of many unattractive trends in professional sport is the rise of grunting in tennis, although it isn't new and with some of the women players it is more of a loud shriek than a grunt. From the BBC we have.

Is grunting louder than a lawn mower a natural part of tennis or is it unsporting behaviour?

Should it be accepted as being part of the game or should rules be introduced to outlaw players from exhaling so loudly when they hit the ball that noise levels exceed 100 decibels?

Grunting became topical again at Wimbledon when Belarusian Victoria Azarenka was forced to defend her on-court noises following a quarter-final loss to Serena Williams - and another 'shrieker', Maria Sharapova, is in semi-final action against Williams on Thursday.

I watched part of the Azarenka / Williams match and from my perspective Azarenka's incessant shrieking made the game unwatchable, but I'm not a fan and fans are wired up differently.

Although grunts and shrieks are supposed to help players hit the ball harder, gamesmanship seems at least as likely. These people are professionals and sporting ideals are not high on the to-do list.

When each player has a retinue of agents, fitness specialists, coaches, diet advisers, psychologists and managers, top tennis has become a business, not a game for individuals. Winning is the name of the game and any legitimate advantage is bound to be used if it actually works.


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Sackerson said...

I think the way to deal with this is to take the mick. One of the players should scream, shout, bellow just before serving and when reprimanded keep toning it down ever so slightly and then ask just how much noise are we allowed to make? Bearing in mind that they didn't use to do this at all. When did it start?

A K Haart said...

Sackers - good idea. Some shouts could be made to sound like "out" so the opponent thinks their shot has been called out causing no end of confusion.

Sackerson said...

Or "thisisjustapracticeshot!"

Paddington said...

From my experience with the martial arts, I would suggest that the grunt actually makes their hit more powerful.

A K Haart said...

Paddington - that's the claim although the effect is supposedly not dramatic. Obscuring the sound of the shot has been suggested too.

Paddington said...

It works for me in karate and judo, because it helps to quickly tense the core muscles.

Sackerson said...

cf Peter Jones in The Spectator this week: