Maybe it’s because I live in New York, but I’m used to everything I like doing being something everyone else likes doing too. I’m sure I’m not alone in hating the sensation of approaching a destination (café, bar, theater, etc.) just as 4-7 people in front of me on the sidewalk file into it right before me. Great, the New Yorker fumes with special ire. There goes my seat/ticket/table. Greeaaat.
So it came as a shock to me to read about the hardcourt tennis tournament in San Jose, CA being sold to a place in Rio. According to Pete Bodo on Tennis.com, “The already anemic two-event U.S. indoor winter ‘tour’ has been downsized. By 50 percent.”
Why? Was it lack of interest, poor ticket sales? According to Pete Bodo again, “as American tennis faded, this tournament became a tough sell.” Ow! Again, it’s a jolt to perceive just how alone you are in tennis fandom in some quarters.
It shouldn’t be a shock to me, really. How many of my friends have told me they aren’t tennis fans, especially recently, since I’ve been bombarding them with news of my tennis blog? It seems my enduring fascination with the personalities and drama of the sport is entirely lost on nearly everyone else I know, although – and this means a lot to me – many friends have told me they find my blog interesting anyway. (Thank you, dear ones.)
In some ways, I’m sort of thinking maybe that should be my mission: to sell tennis to non-tennis fans, and make tennis fans out of them. If I can spin webs of meaning crafted out of wildly loosely applied mythological and literary significance, might I not balance out the loss of the San Jose tournament? Or could that be my fantasy? I like to live in fantasy – it suits me. Reality is just a bit off, for me.
In any case, I really just wanted to make note of what to me is a stunning piece of news: tennis in the U.S. isn’t popular. Our heroes – the Williams sisters, Andy Roddick (I have to put him upfront in the list, though many will argue he doesn’t belong there), Mardy Fish, Sloane Stephens, Ryan Harrison, James Blake, Christina McHale – don’t matter to most Americans. Agghhhh! It’s truly bizarre, if you’re used to fighting off a thicket of elbows at every ticket counter, and also, fighting the crowds at the U.S. Open. The hordes at the U.S. Open definitely give the impression that tennis in the States is alive and well. But that’s New York. In the rest of the country there’s a yawning emptiness in the arenas. And though our young Turks are doing respectably, no one is blazing up the rankings in a way that could electrify the public and restore us to the glory days of Agassi, Sampras, Evert, McEnroe, etc.
So we’re left with bogus theorizing and literary analogies. More coming this week – stay tuned.