Tennis versus the World

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The Australian Open tennis tournament is in full swing this week. Melbourne’s The Age newspaper leads with inevitable photographs of tennis stars stretching their mouths open in victory roars and clenching their fists in defiance of all comers. While a useful reminder of our primate ancestry, these photos reinforce a world of extreme enjoyment at odds with the rest of the world.

As anyone who gets a crook neck watching it knows, tennis is a hard slog. Thanks to years of arduous training, the courts reverberate with rocketing serves and cannon-like volleys.

So why do we see so few images of the craft of tennis? Why instead of racket hitting ball do we mostly see these stereotyped expressions of triumph? Certainly it helps channel the aggression in watching crowd – we know how violent Australian Open spectators can be. But for a newspaper that should informing its readers about the game, it says nothing about the skills and techniques that actually determine victory.

With the year of the Ox now upon us, we should be celebrating the hard work that leads to these victories. We’ll certainly need lots of slog to get through 2009.

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