Back in December I imbibed some tequila and started doing some outlandish prognosticating. I mentioned at the time that I was inspired by Jon Wertheim’s lame-assed predictions for tennis in 2011. I forgot to mention that Mathew McConaughey also played a part.
What happened is this. I was watching the Food Channel (yes, I am as obsessed with food as any other tennis player), when McConaughey appeared on Guy Fieri’s show. I’m not much of a fan of Mr. Fieri. His surfer-dude style of talking is annoying and he doesn’t seem to know how to cook anything that doesn’t contain meat. I would have switched the channel if the other surfer-dude (McConaughey) hadn’t started doing a demo of his version of the margarita. He combined anejo tequila, lime juice, orangina, club soda and ice. The drink looked so tasty that I had to run out to buy some tequila so that I could try it. A dash of angostura bitters and the result, as you saw, was wildly inspirational.
Well it’s been barely into the New Year and already one of my predictions has turned out to be as accurate as Courtney Love’s use of the English language while tweeting. You see I had predicted for Lindsay Davenport an embarrassing and humiliating return to tennis followed by her impregnation for face-serving purposes. Boy was I wrong.
I got a press release today from the Tennis Channel (yes, we are tight like that) informing me that Davenport had just signed a multiyear contract with them to continue commentating on tennis. According to the media release: "She [Davenport] will significantly broaden her duties with the channel under her new agreement, appearing during coverage of all four Grand Slams, the Olympus US Open Series, Fed Cup and other competitions. The former No. 1-ranked singles and doubles player will have an on-air presence throughout the year while lending her expertise online through blogs and Q&A's on the network's Web site, www.tennischannel.com, and through other digital and social media platforms."
Talk about egg on my face. How can Lindsay return to playing tennis when she will be tied up behind the booth?
All kidding aside, I am pleased about this development. Although I sometimes get irritated by what I perceive as Lindsay’s new-found air of superiority since getting married – you know how some women get all uppity just because they have a ring on their finger and have popped out a child or two. Despite this I think that she is a tremendously positive addition to the Tennis Channel line-up. Certainly she is a huge improvement over her pal, Corina Moriaru, who must have the most irritating voice in the business. At least Lindsay’s comments are usually relevant. She knows tennis and she knows these players. And her voice neither grates nor irritates.
Tennis Channel also renewed contracts with Bill Macatee and Martina Navratilova. My problem with Macatee is that I do not get the sense that tennis is his passion. Clearly he loves sports but he seems to slut himself out to comment on everything under the sun. I’m selfish. I like my tennis commentators to be as single-minded and as tunnel-visioned as I am about tennis. But really Macatee is not awful, as long as he is paying attention. As for Leif Shiras and Justin Gimelstob, neither takes away nor adds value to the line-up.
In truth, not a single one of these men can come close to the quality of John Barrett. Do you remember him? He used to work for the BBC. His voice was as smooth as butter, and he treated tennis like opera and would allow the rally to finish before chiming in with a comment. He also respected the intelligence of his viewing audience and didn’t prattle on with non-sequiturs when silence would do just fine. I wish some of these current commentators would dig up his old tapes and study them.
As for Navratilova, she has improved with time. Thank God. I remember some years ago when she completely ruined Wimbledon for me because she WOULD NOT SHUT UP! I was forced to watch matches on MUTE because Martina kept talking over every point. She probably ran her mouth right through the commercials. It was horrible. Since then she is not as bad but she still sometimes talks too much. And she has clear favorites and is unable to hide her preferences. True professionals know how to suppress their emotions when their faves are playing. It should never be so obvious when the commentator is rooting for a particular player - say Svetlana Kutzetnova.
That said, few people can dissect players’ games like Navratilova. Her eyes are like laser beams, and she reads body language like a shrink. And it’s clear that she follows men’s tennis as closely as she does women’s, which is awesome in these gender-backward times when, over on ESPN, women commentators often seem to get relegated to commenting on women’s tennis and the brothers McEnroe are trotted out as if they are the only ones who know how to assess the men’s game. As if having a penis has anything to do with anything.
But back to my drunken prognostications. Right now the score is one down, nine more to go. I’m still holding out hope for those whores in Federer’s attic.