Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Foot Of The Mountain

One of the strangest things about the time immediately after a Grand Slam is the fact that there is still tennis going on. There is no quiet time, no downtime... the players who gathered in Melbourne have scattered to all corners of the earth, unable to put their racquets down. Tennis players must feel like they're wearing the fairy tale red shoes sometimes - they just can't stop playing.

Of course, if you're Roger or Rafa or one of the top dudes, you can take a break. But for the little guys, there is none of that. You need the points to claw up the rankings. Every week is another battle. And just because a Slam is over and the whole tennis world is trying to catch its breath doesn't mean that you get the luxury of a break.

No, no, no. You are in Santiago or Zagreb or Johannesburg, trying to win a few rounds and gain some much needed points if you're a little little guy or notch up a tournament win if you're slightly bigger. Or some little guys might be in Courmayeur or Burnie or Kazan playing on the Challenger circuit, trying to grab the win and the valuable points there. And this is what you do, week in, week out.

When you're at the top, you can care about sensible scheduling. When you're not, then every week is another dogfight.

My newfound great love for Nicolas Mahut, he of the awesome hair, means that there'll probably be a lot more of the little guys on this blog - which is a good thing, I think. The little guys need some love. It's easy to be a Fedal fan (which, as you know, I am LIKE WHOA) but when you're not so famous, when you get shunted to the furthest court there is when you manage to qualify for a Slam... you deserve some screentime.

Mahut is the fourth seed in the Challenger in Courmayeur this week, and he had a first round win against Dieter Kindlmann last night in two breakers. Yay! He also jumped fourteen spots in the rankings up to #118 after his second round showing at the Australian Open! Also yay!

I tried to stay up to watch the match - Courmayeur has a livestream - but it didn't, you know, happen. However, I am definitely going to make an effort to watch at least a little of this tournament this week. Challenger tennis is something I don't know much about, and that's something I endeavour to change. Grand Slam tennis may be the pinnacle of the mountain, but Challengers and Futures are all about the climb.

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