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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who has the best grunt in tennis?

Never mind that the economy is not improving because it is reverting to corporate feudalism.  Or that Obama thinks dinging around in a 10-year-old war that doesn't accomplish much besides the deaths of Americans and the squandering of money must end.  The real burning issue that the world needs to focus on is grunting at Wimbledon.

 YaHOOOooooo = "Take that, bitch."

The officials at Wimbledon think what they call the grunting, especially by women, is ruining tennis.  They are referring to the sounds some players make when they drive the ball back across the net.  The idea is that if you accompany a really powerful stroke with a fearsome noise, your opponent will be intimidated. 

The Wimbledon folks call those noises grunting.   Now, to the minds of most people a grunt is that low noise of exertion that comes out of the bathroom that we are taught not to giggle at as children and not to mention when the utterer emerges from the bathroom.  I had one aunt who delicately referred to taking a Number Two as taking a grunt.  I looked up the word grunt in the American Heritage Dictionary, and it said, "Idiot, do you really have to look this word up?"  Then it said, "Well, if you must, a grunt is a deep guttural sound."  That conforms more to what we children were ordered not to giggle at. 

What I hear issuing forth from the courts at Wimbledon is not a grunt, then.  It is more like a yell or a wail of the type that signals when someone has achieved orgasm.   So I've been told.  It is kind of a battle or victory cry.

Tennis was my sport until I was warned by a physician that my knees were not standing up very well to my scrambling about the court.  He said if I wanted to continue playing I should probably confine my efforts to grass courts.  I grunted.  

Tennis was the only sport I was relatively competitive at.  In college, I was in a constant battle with Richie M. for the number eight spot on the tennis team, but I was good enough to travel with the team as a reserve even if Richie had whumped me during the week to earn the right to play.  That was the whole idea.  There wasn't money to pay for tennis travel, so the out-of-town trips were scheduled in coordination with the women's team, and that was an important part of the whole game.  When we traveled to or hosted tennis matches we got to mingle with women tennis players.  For a time, my girl friend was Kay B., a fine tennis player.  I am about 5' 8" in a street shoes, not sure in tennis shoes.  Kay was 6' 2".  We played together a lot.  Sometimes on the tennis courts.  The first time I faced her in tennis, I was a cocky little shit who thought I would go real easy with a woman opponent.  I was so cocky that I wasn't even gripping my racquet properly, and her first serve knocked it right out of my hand.  The good part was that the more I played Kay, the more I beat Richie.  

I don't recall that Kay grunted.  On the courts or anywhere else.  But I do know that decorum on the tennis courts was enforced.  One of our team members spit on the court while dancing around waiting for a serve, and the line judge stopped the match and made the spitter wipe up the spittle with a towel.  Team member Duane was good at setting up play so that he could unleash his deadly overhead smash.  He liked to yell "Bonzai" when he did it, and he was also warned to keep his mouth shut by a judge.   Decorum was part of the game and we were expected to keep grunting and other noise-making off the courts.

The sounds emitted by women on the Wimbledon courts have never bothered me,  but I have wondered if the energy with which they are made is not better channeled into the forehand or backhand strokes.  However, tennis is a sport of custom as well as skill, and the custom of grunting has been around for some time.  Every tournament should award a prize to the best grunt of the tournament.  That will require a grunt judge, but the more pageantry in tennis, the better.  Spectators need to do something besides move their heads back and forth, and appraising grunts can provide a break from head rotation.  

You can begin your appreciation of grunts with these videos of grunting from The Daily Beast 

The economy and Afghanistan be damned.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States