Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Court Jesters

Tennis players are the real rock stars of sport. They wear provocative wigs on stage - remember Agassi’s peroxide mullet? They use cuss words on prime time - remember John McEnroe’s infamous tantrums? They have wham-bam-thank-you-ma’m kinda romps outside marriage - remember Becker’s 5-second quickie? They dress up rather fashionably while at work - remember Bethanie-Mattek Sands’ Lady Gaga style attire? They even evoke extreme attention from fans – remember how Monica Seles was stabbed by Steffi’s fan?

There’s one more reason why the sport controlled by ATP, is eminently likeable: you’re likely to spot the funniest names in this ball game.

Take Jim Courier. In a parallel universe, he would be the delivery boy for UPS or FedEx. But in the world of racket and strings, he’s a champion who’s won both the French and Australian Open.

People who have no connection with tennis will rarely able to sniff out the aces from their names. Sample these. Mary Pierce has the ring of a tattoo artist. Pat Cash seems like a walking talking ATM. Arthur Ashe has all the grim traces of a funeral director. Roscoe Tanner has the stink of a leather maker. And Steffi Graf can only remind you of a statistician.

The Eastern Europeans add a mirthful flavour to the game. As all of us know, Novak Djokovic is the djoke of all jokes. Ivanisevic, Zimonjic, Zivojinovic, Petrovic and Petkovic sometimes make you think if Club Sandvic and Chicken Sandvic might get a wildcard entry for the championships. Likewise, Sharapova, Kournikova, Navratilova and Kalashnikova make you wonder if Palkova might have been better off wearing a short white skirt than playing the mouth watering milk sweet.

The tryst with amusing surnames is not a new phenomenon in tennis. Historically, there have been many players with equally fascinating names. The American lady who won 8 Wimbledon titles should have been one happy woman. Instead she was called Helen Wills ‘Moody’. The first ever male to win the Grand Slam was a fleet-footed chap, ironically named Don ‘Budge’. And the greatest female tennis player of all time, in all surfaces, was predictably Margaret ‘Court’. Talk of coincidences!