FanDuel - WFBC

January 27, 2010

Bode Knows....Tennis?: After the Olympics, world champion skier Bode Miller plans on scaling a different kind of mountain: He wants to try and play in the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

posted by BoKnows to tennis at 01:00 PM - 11 comments

Props to him for ambition, maybe, but . . . I think this is more like delusion, or arrogance, or both.

Winning a state title means he's very good at tennis--better than I've ever been, certainly. On the other hand, while I don't know anything about the overall standing of prep tennis in Maine, I do know that even D-1-grade players find real, professional play against international competition to be a shocking reality check. Assuming he even gets past the first round of play-ins.

David Foster Wallace was memorably impressed by the astonishing quality of high-level tennis: If you've played tennis at least a little, you probably have some idea how hard a game is to play really well. I submit to you that you really have no idea at all. I know I didn't. And television doesn't really allow you to appreciate what real top-level players can do -- how hard they're actually hitting the ball, and with what control and tactical imagination and artistry. I got to watch Michael Joyce practice several times right up close, like six feet and a chain-link fence away. This is a man who, at full run, can hit a fast-moving tennis ball into a one-foot square area seventy-eight feet away over a net, hard. He can do this something like more than 90 percent of the time. And this is the world's seventy-ninth-best player, one who has to play the Montreal qualies.

Elsewhere he calls the notion of hanging with real pros (this seems to be Miller's notion, too) "the pathetic deluded pride that attends ignorance."

posted by Uncle Toby at 03:06 PM on January 27

Props to him for ambition, maybe, but . . . I think this is more like delusion, or arrogance, or both..

Elsewhere he calls the notion of hanging with real pros (this seems to be Miller's notion, too) "the pathetic deluded pride that attends ignorance."

From the article:

"Tennis has always been part of my life," Miller said. "The U.S. Open National Playoffs is a great concept and I look forward to playing. It will give me an outlet to focus my competitiveness after the Olympics and World Cup season."

That's what Bode has said about why he's doing it.

From the follow-on link in that blog:

"While professionals are eligible to play, we expect the draws to be filled with top junior players, collegians, teaching professionals and even recreational players who will now have a chance to play themselves into the US Open for the first time," US Open tournament director Jim Curley said.

Hmm. Sounds like a good match to me.

I didn't read any, "I'm going to enter this competition expecting to play in the US Open". I read that the guy has always played tennis, that he played competitively as long as it was possible to do so, that he likes to compete and that he thinks it will be a fun thing to do once the snow melts. I certainly didn't read any "delusion", "arrogance", "pathetic deluded pride" or "ignorance".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:57 PM on January 27

That David Foster Wallace piece is one of my favourites. However the point of an "open" tournament is just that - anyone can enter. The early, early pre-qualifying rounds must be made up of lots of people with no chance of ever making the main draw. That's what makes it fun, and a personal challenge to see how far you can actually go.

posted by owlhouse at 04:23 PM on January 27

Okay, point taken. Guess I kind of got in a lather and was quick to mis-read. "The OUTRAGE! What sort of inflated self-image does this guy have to have to even THINK that he can . . ." etc.

Maybe I let my previous, perhaps media-distorted impression of Miller drive my reading of his ambition here. I don't follow skiing, so all I ever saw were his results (impressive) and his controversies (mediated narrative: another irritatingly self-absorbed athlete). So: best of luck, Bode!

Obviously, I should have directed my outrage at Paul Shirley, who's not only anti-humanitarian but a good example of why that cow college in Ames annoys me so much.

posted by Uncle Toby at 04:34 PM on January 27

Before Bode was skiing he was playing tennis.His grandpa has a tenis school in NH.It is great he wants to try his hand at another sport.He is somewhat old to begin in tenis at the professional level but my prayers are with him and wish him all the luck in the world.Go Bode.

posted by ogomezmontes at 07:04 PM on January 27

I knew a guy who was decent at tennis - in golfing terms, he was a scratch handicap tennis player. He was thinking about turning pro, but couldn't decide whether or not he was good enough. As chance would have it, while on holiday in La Manga in Spain, he bumped into Ivan Lendl in the hotel one night. Despite the fact that Lendl was on holiday, he agreed to a game of tennis the next morning.

Lendl won the first set 6-4, but the aspiring pro knew he was just toying with him. "Ivan, I know you're on holiday and I know you don't want to risk getting injured, but in the second set, can you give me the heat?"

A 6-0 thrashing later, they shook hands at the net and the guy thanked Lendl for saving him from a bad decision. He went home and became a doctor instead.

He said there were three occasions where he was aced and the only way he could work out which side he'd been aced on was from the noise of the ball hitting the chain-link behind him. Half a dozen times he'd hit shots that in amateur games he'd not even have to watch to know they'd beaten his opponent, only to have them not only returned, but returned with interest. In short, the difference was an order of magnitude.

Without blowing my own trumpet, I'm a decent golfer. I played this year with a guy who took the game up in his 50s, is now 60 and plays off a 20 handicap. When we finished (he played to his handicap, I shot 68) he said to me: "I watch the golf on TV every week and I think I can relate to it - that what they're doing bears some relation to what I'm doing - but having watched you today, I realise I'm not even playing the same sport."

I shrugged: "The really depressing thing? The difference between what you're doing on a golf course and what I'm doing on a golf course is tiny compared to the difference between what I'm doing and what they're doing on TV. A top ten player on this course in these conditions would have shot in the mid-50s, even if he'd never seen the place before."

All of which says nothing about Bode's decision to play in the US Open qualifier. If you meet the criteria for entry, enter! He's not saying he wants to play tennis for a living when there's no snow to ski on, he's saying he wants to have a crack at the US Open qualifiers. I play tennis five times a year, if that, but if I met the criteria, I'd enter anyway. I think it's great and I wish him all the luck in the world with it.

posted by JJ at 05:43 AM on January 28

Before Bode was skiing he was playing tennis.His grandpa has a tenis school in NH.

True story: one of his off-season training drills is to borrow the big stone roller that they use for the clay courts, disconnect it from the motor-thingy that pushes it, take it out on the road, and run up a hill pushing it as fast as he can until he pukes. Not exactly conventional, but it seems to work.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:16 AM on January 28

and run up a hill pushing it as fast as he can until he pukes

I tried that technique yesterday but puked on my third step. So I cleaned it up and reconnected the motor-thingy.

posted by smithnyiu at 03:11 PM on January 28

and run up a hill pushing it as fast as he can until he pukes

You would be a lot safer pulling the thingy up the hill. Should you slip on a steep part, you might begin to resemble the tennis court.

JJ, the expression I always used when I could still play a somewhat credible game was, "Any resemblance between what I do on the course and golf is usually accidental."

posted by Howard_T at 04:38 PM on January 28

You would be a lot safer pulling the thingy up the hill. Should you slip on a steep part, you might begin to resemble the tennis court.

I never claimed that the man had all his marbles.

(anyway, what if you were pulling it and it got away from you and took off down the hill and hit Silas Rice's truck as it was pulling the mower out of his south hayfield?)

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:23 PM on January 28

If you're able to retrieve your equipment, and make it look like poor old Silas died in an unfortunate and gruesome lawnmower accident, no harm done.

Or, just tell cops you saw Greg Maddux in the area.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:01 AM on January 29

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