TSF is excited to welcome Tobin Addington to the 2010 blogging team. Tobin holds a masters degree in Film from Columbia University, works as a director and screenwriter, and is a professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey. His tennis love has blossomed over the last few months, and the Australian Open is the first Slam he’s followed end-to-end. Tobin will contribute with a column called fresh perspective, giving his take of the game we all know with a new lens. -NM
I’m new to tennis. Like, really new. Six months ago, I didn’t know the difference between a break point and a backhand. (Okay, so I probably could’ve figured out what a backhand was, but I didn’t care.)
All that changed last September at my local gym when I caught the end of Melanie Oudin beating one of those Russians at the U.S. Open. I ran about five extra miles on the treadmill to see the end of the match. (Yes, I know, the Oudin phenomenon was largely a media creation, a story designed to rope suckers like me into paying attention to tennis. But it worked!)
Now I subscribe to the Tennis Channel, I’ve read all the Jon Wertheim tennis books and Agassi’s autobiography, I check TSF and Tennis.com daily, and I’ve started programming my social life around big matches. (I even watched the Federer-Del Potro U.S. Open final from my computer at work. Shhh. Don’t tell…)
The guys here at TSF have kindly invited me to contribute a post every couple weeks from my perspective as a new (and increasingly avid) fan. I’m flattered and excited, but I feel more full of questions than anything else. So I’m hoping you, dear readers, will take me under your collective wing and guide my introduction to tennis.
I’m still figuring out who’s who and what all the rules are. (Double break points? Lets? Slams?) Heck, I’m still getting the scoring straight.
But I love the personalities, the psychological intensity, the combination of finesse and brutality. And, yes, the outfits. (Among the things I’ve already learned from watching tennis that I really should’ve known before: wristbands are used to wipe sweat off faces. Maybe I’m a little slow, but this never occurred to me before.)
From outside the world of tennis fans, the sport maintains a pristine, genteel image. Anyone whose read the introduction to Agassi’s biography understands there is so much more to this sport.
It truly is, to paraphrase Wertheim, our most gladiatorial sport. And I can’t wait for more!
And I have a lot of questions. First: what’s up with the skin-colored undies Venus Williams wore against Francesca Schiavone? Hello, freeze-frame-fanny shots?!
Tobin says: Look closely, there’s fabric to be seen. But really, was this a distraction tactic, Venus?!
(photo via getty images)