I’ve never been a fan of sports. Never played them, never watched them. I can’t say exactly never because there was the 1987 Chicago Bears Superbowl that I saw as part of a friend’s party. And I used to watch baseball with my dad as a kid, but mostly that was just to spend time with him. I didn’t understand the game, nor did I care too much, but I got to spend time with my Dad.
I always hated gym class. I’m about as coordinated as a block of wood. I couldn’t jump rope, use a hulu hoop, and couldn’t outrun a tortoise. (Naps not included.) I swim well enough to not drown, but I can’t swim in a straight line. I’m definitely no Serena Williams.
As a result of my athletic inabilities, I was apathetic about sports – until a few years ago. Nadal vs Federer. The Australian Open. The game that seemed never ending. My husband was watching the game. I would stroll by every so often, look at the score (which made no sense to me at the time) and ask, “Are they still playing?” My husband tried to explain the scoring system, but I just shook my head in dismay. Tennis is so complicated.
What wasn’t so complicated is that one good look at Nadal and another at Federer, and I was in love with both of them. Nadal is the bad boy that you run off with. Federer is the guy you bring home to marry. Well, I could watch cute guys and maybe I would learn something about the silly game while I was at it. Today, I know the game fairly well. I even watch the women’s and doubles matches. But I still want to run off with Nadal. 😉
Tennis scoring is hard to understand. Basically, you have points and once you have won 4 of them, you win the game. Win six games and you take the set. Win three sets out of five (men’s) or two out of three (women’s) and you’ve won the match. Sounds easy when you think about it, except for all the exceptions….
Starting with your four points. They are numbered like this: no points (love), 1st pt (15), 2nd pt (30), 3rd pt (40), 4th pt (game). Why are they named like this? Blame the French. They are based on the hands of the clock (every 15 minutes). So what happened with 40? It should be 45, right? But 45 is Quarante-cinq in French. And they wanted to shorten it to Quarante, because it’s easier to say. So 45 became 40.
Wait, the fun doesn’t stop there! You have to win things by two. That’s right. If the score is 40-40 (also known as deuce), then the next point with be the Advantage point. Then the following point wins you the game. OK, so what if the other person gets the next point? Well, then the advantage is lost and you are back to 40-40. This can go on for a long time.
In order to win a set, you must ‘break’ the other person’s serve. What does that mean? All it means is that you win the game while they are serving. (Serving means they are the one who starts hitting the ball first.) Easier said than done. If no one ‘breaks’ then both players reach 6 games. Now what? Now we play a tie-breaker. Straight up alternate bi-serving, first person to reach 7 points wins. Unless they both reach 7, then it goes on until one person wins by two points, say 9-7. This can go on for a long time too.
So, points are important, sets are important, matches are really important, and games are just middle of the road scoring. If you aren’t confused by now, then I haven’t tried hard enough. 😉
OK, now, what was your point, Monday? Well, tennis players are cute. We established that in paragraph four. But if you sit and watch the game, you see some really interesting points scored. Rallies that seem to go on forever, just waiting someone to mis-hit slightly, or the perfect angle opens up and one person can’t get to the ball before it bounces twice. You see crazy things, like slipping, sliding, falling, splits and these folks just get up and keep going, sometimes so quickly that they don’t even miss the next hit. Really, you can get hooked on this stuff. Did I mention the guys are cute?
Oh wait, I forgot one part… if the players reach the final set of the match (5 for men, 3 for women) and they are still all tied, then there is no tie-breaker. The players just keep going until someone wins by two games. That’s right, games, not points or sets. So I lied. Games are kind of important too, but only in this situation. For really close matches, these final games can take forever. The record for the longest match in tennis history was at the 2010 Wimbledon championships. It took 3 days and 183 games to win. The final score in the last set was 70 to 68.
As for where we are today… Serena Williams won her 5th Wimbledon championship in both singles and doubles and her 14th major tournament. She is the oldest female singles champion since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 at the age of 33.
In the men’s singles, we stand on the precipice of tennis history. Andy Murray is about to battle Roger Federer for the Wimbledon championship. Both men have a lot to gain from the match. If Andy Murray wins, he will be the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1938. (He’s Scottish actually.) Rumor has it that the royal box will be rather full, but the Queen will not be in attendance. If Roger Federer wins, he will be the #1 ranked player in the world again (a feat no one would expect due to his advanced age of 30) and he will tie for the record of number of Wimbledon championships won by an individual: 7! Also, he would break his own record for most major tournaments won by an individual: 17!
Tomorrow will prove to be an interesting day in tennis. I’ll be sure to get up early to watch the match. After two years, I finally understand the scoring system. And of course, I’ve got to watch the cute guys!
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