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Cummings and Goings XXI by Jim Cummings

July 15, 2009 01:24 AM

We played some doubles the morning of the Wimbledon Men's Finals, starting  before 9 and quitting shortly after 10 so we could catch a little bit of the match before it ended. A little bit indeed! For the next 3 hours, I found myself glued to the TV set. The last set was one of the finest I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. It seemed destined to go on forever, but of course, it didn't. In the end, Roger Federer's will prevailed, but not until Andy Roddick gave all he had to give.

I saw a bit of Roddick's  match with Andy Murray and was impressed with the composure and confidence with which he was playing. Frankly, I did not expect it to last. It was just a year ago or so I felt compelled to take him to task for destroying a perfectly good racket in a fit of anger. But as we all know, he won the match with Murray in convincing fashion displaying a game I had not seen him play before.

That win set up the possibility of an American sweep of the singles and men and women's doubles. To no ones surprise, the William's sisters showed the way on Saturday. The men were unable to follow, but it wasn't for lack of trying. The top-seeded Bryan brothers lost to  Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 7-6 (7), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-3. Talk about slam/bang doubles.

Much has already been written about the epic, record setting Men's Final. Roger Fedder owes Andy Roddick a huge thank you for making his record setting #15 Slam win a match that in and of itself will be remembered as long as tennis is played. It was the longest Championship match in Wimbledon history capped by the longest 5th set. The statistics show that Roddick won one more game than Fedderer: 39-38 and had 5 fewer unforced errors (33). It is surprising there were not more unforced errors considering how beat up that court was after a fortnight of play. Through it all, Roddick kept his composure, even when a challenge showed that a seemingly out ball had clipped the line. I held my breath on that one, but Roddick just shrugged it off and focused on the next point. Can it be that there is another Andre in the making? I find myself becoming a believer and admirer and am looking forward with renewed interest to the US Open a few short weeks away.  

Grunting

People are starting to make noise about grunting that is happening on court, calling it offensive and saying it is ruining our game. Martina Navratilova has openly condemned it and blames the officials for not clamping down on grunting. A few players have asked me about grunting and wanted to know what could be done about it.

First off, there is nothing directly in the Rules at this time about grunting. You have to back into it. Rule 26, Hindrance, says if a player is hindered in playing a point by a deliberate act of an opponent, the player shall win the point. But hindrance only applies to players and if opponents are not complaining about the grunting and playing through it, where is the hindrance? The complaints are primarily coming from the crowd/press/commentators and the TV audience.

Oddly enough, there is a whole paragraph that addresses grunting in the USTA Regulations contained in a FAC  Comment (IV.D.15) to Reg. IV.D., the Point Penalty System. It is odd because grunting is not listed as a point penalty violation. The Comment says that an official may treat loud grunting as a hindrance if he determines it affected the point on the court where the grunting occurred. The first time it happens, the point is replayed and the grunter is advised that if it happens again and affects the point it will result in loss of the point. But again, if opponents are not complaining and playing through it, there is nothing on-court officials can do as the Rules and Regs are presently written.

I had only heard about and had not heard the grunting being discussed. A trip to You Tube took care of that which had captured Larcher de Brito doing her thing on court. What I heard was not grunting but rather a tortured, prolonged shriek. My God in Heaven. Apparently what I heard was from the French Open because a Google report said Wimbledon officials told her she could be fined for making excess noise. Since there were no further reports, she probably tuned it down a few notches. Google also had a report that the ITF will be meeting to see what action might be taken.

Way back when, I was the Referee for a senior players tour. One of the players became a problem and I spoke with the tour director about the problem player and told him I planned to crack down on the player. He asked me to let him handle it. End of problem. Seems to me the same approach might work with the players associations.  

Compliment your Partner

My partners over the years have been known to miss some mighty easy shots. It never does any good to jump on them when this happens because they are all hopelessly human. When the occasion arises, I will sometimes tell them that if they were perfect, they would be hard to play with. I let this sink in a few moments and then tell them how easy they are to play with. 

By:  Jim Cummings 7/15/2009

Jim Cummings Bio:
   Born in Marinette, WI
   Boyhood friend of the Cook family
   Played varsity tennis for UW-Madison in the 50s
   Officiated at over 25 US Opens as a chair and line umpire
   Served on USTA's Rules Committee when Jack Stahr and Nick Powel were Chairs
   Active senior player and Referee
   Presently helps edit the Friend At Court
   zjimc@msn.com

 

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