Sunday, July 08, 2007

How To Run Wimbledon

It's been a bit rainy in England the last couple of weeks. Have you noticed? Tennis people have. Wimbledon 2007 has been a soggy one, and everybody's been complaining about the scheduling.

It seems to me that there are two very simple ways of getting more matches in - and one of them should be adopted regardless of the weather to bring the game out of the 19th Century.

First one's easy - why do they only start play at midday? Start at 10.30am. You could still have the high profile matches scheduled for mid-afternoon or evening, but you'd get through all the thousands of other games without any trouble at all. Are all tennis organisers so lazy they can't schedule a match before lunch?

The second one is much more important. Picture the scene: You've finally got hold of tickets to see a match at Wimbledon. Or maybe you're not at the stadium, you're watching it on TV. You've got your cup of tea and your cake. You settle into your sofa. The players come on court. Things are getting exciting. The atmosphere is building. The players take of their tracksuits and ping the base of their palms against their racket strings. They look up at the skies. It could rain any minute, but for the time being it's dry.

Ooh, you're relishing the prospect of a cracking game of tennis.

So what happens next?

The players spend 20 minutes "knocking up".

And quite often, as soon as they start the proper match, it rains and they have to come off. And, here's the craziest thing, even if they're only off for five minutes, when they come back on they have to spend the first twenty minutes "knocking up" again!

Back in 1890, or whenever, when the players had no access to tennis courts before their match because somebody else was playing before them on the same court, "knocking up" might have made sense. But so did the Boer War.

In this glorious modern age, "knocking up" serves no purpose whatsoever.

It isn't to practise their shots because now the players have practice courts. They've all been out there practising all morning with their coaches and their warm-up partners. They even have practice courts indoors so they can warm up in wet weather.

And "knocking up" isn't to do a physical warm up, because what they do on court is totally insufficient to do that job anyway. They've all been stretched and massaged for hours before coming on court in the first place.

So "knocking up" has nothing to do with their bodies or their game. It's pointless.

Ah wait, you say, it's to get used to the conditions - the weather, the court, the light...

And I say to you - adapting to the conditions is part of the game. In no other sport do the players or teams have a little knock around before they start the match, just to get used to things. Adapting to the conditions quickly is part of being a sportsman at the highest level. Players and teams who do it well have a deserved advantage.

Can you imagine in football or cricket or any other sport in the world, the players starting off against each other, then stopping after twenty minutes and starting again because, all of sudden, NOW they're used the conditions. WHAT?!

Or even, NOW they've warmed up their muscles. WHAT?! Do it before the game you dong-fronglers!

Or how about, NOW they've practised their game enough, remembered how to play, and can play at their best. WHAAAAAT!?

Abolish the twenty minute "knock up". It's pointless, it's dull, it wastes time.


Joe said...

I thought you'd be relieved to hear that I've just emailed all these thoughts to the All England Lawn Tennis Association.
I'll keep you posted if they reply.

James Casey said...

Did you actually call them 'dong-fronglers'?

Joe said...

Er, yeah. Embarrassingly, I just copied and pasted this post into an email and sent it before I realised I was name-calling. And strange-name-calling.

James Casey said...

I think the way forward is to write 'Jimmy Coates: Line Umpire' and make your case in that, creating an army of child fans who will bring about the changes you demand.