• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Forget about the cheating, it is the etiquette of tennis which should be outlawed

H EART-RENDING confession.

It was drugs that ruined my cycling career. Went over the handlebars in Church Road, Busby, while smoking a spliff.

I later passed a dope test, or the 11-plus as it was known, so my disgrace was limited.

But life experience has tended to make me tolerant over the use of drugs in sport, especially cycling. I know, I know, it has ruined lives but it seems positively cruel to sit a man on top of a razor blade and send him off to cycle over cobbles, bumps and mountains for 3633 kilometres in the sort of heat that would force a camel to have a pint without even just a little pharmaceutical help.

My outrage, instead, is reserved for the falsity of the etiquette in tennis. First, there is the knock-up. This is different from the Possil "knock up" as it does not involve her dad coming round to your house. What it does involve is kidding on you are playing tennis and, believe it or not, helping your opponent prepare to beat you.

My warm-up in my sporting career on the killing fields of amateur football consisted of nipping out my fag, belching after a slug of American Cream Soda and looking for the psychopath in the other team. There was normally 11 of them plus subs. And coaches.

This interminable pitty-pat of the tennis warm-up is tedious but it is not my bete-noir or even my bet of the day.

My absolute, incandescent ire is reserved for the hand raised in apology when the ball hits net the flops over to win the penitent a point.

They are not sorry. And they should not be. It is not their fault. A sphere travelling at 100mph has hit a piece of fabric and has dropped over. It happens. Like the ball, get over it.

Yet these paragons of sportsmanship also stretch the laws so much they are as fit to burst as an elephant's bikini pants. Sometimes the players are just, well, naughty. Novak Djokovic's racket was so far over the net in a match against Andy Murray at Miami that the line judge at the Scot's end had to duck. Novak did not confess to his misdemeanour.

Then there is the matter of players taking a break. It is extraordinary how many times a top player decides he has to do the toilet when he has just lost a set. Rafa Nadal was it at Wimbledon this week with his need to go matched only by a four-year-old who is heading on holiday or a man of a certain age who winces at the word prostate.

Then there is the injury break. Curiously, players only seem to suffer injuries when they are stepping towards the abyss of defeat with all the certainty of a drunk on high heels. They fall down as if auditioning for the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, the musical. They receive massages that frankly should not be shown before the watershed and then rise to jump about as if they are the reincarnation of Rudolf Nureyev.

Then there is the slow play. And, sorry, back to Rafa. He plays so slowly that some of his matches are carbon-dated. He first towels himself off as if he has just ventured indoors after being caught under a flock of pigeons suffering from dysentery. He then performs the sort of manoeuvres with his shorts that are normally only conducted with safety by a qualified proctologist. He then bounces the ball so much that one suspects it is about to be reduced through constant contact to the size of a marble.

There is talk of putting a time clock on players. One could tell that Rafa was slow by employing a sun dial. But no matter.

All the cheating, the gamesmanship and the widdle diddles do not bother me a jot. Players will push laws to the limits and beyond and it is up to the umpires or refs to sort it out. To express outrage at a player in any sport trying to gain an unlawful advantage is the equivalent of howling at the moon.

And I only do that when I have gone over the handlebars while smoking exotic herbs.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

245257