Changes as Tennis Abides Turns 7
I started writing about tennis for various websites in part due to being taken with the high level of play I saw at Masters Cincinnati 2002. I recall watching Carlos Moya up close on day 1 and thinking he would have a nice run. Little did I know, Moya would claim the title. From there, the level of play seemingly kept going up at a nearly exponential rate. Roger Federer took over the tour. Marat Safin authored a sequel to his 2000 US Open title. Rafael Nadal exploded onto the scene. Novak Djokovic hit the smoothest shots I had ever seen when I watched him practice at Cincinnati 2009.
Djokovic’s economy of motion amazed me as I watched him practice in 2009
In short, I got into covering tennis more fully due to an emerging ever greater appreciation of the sport. I had a love/hate relationship with tennis as an adolescent. I wanted to play the sport due to my dad’s weekend hacking and Boris Becker’s 1985 Wimbledon triumph. Junior and high school tennis was a strange mix of wanting to be a good player combined with the pressures of a sport that asks a lot of its participants. I had shots I preferred and shots that were weak, but in a match, I could not specialize in just one thing. I could not let the clock run out if I built a lead. In many ways, junior and high school tennis was like an extremely complex puzzle I wanted to solve but got pissed off at while trying to solve it.
I did not play a lot of tennis in college, Aug 1994-May 1998. I took the game up again in 2000 and learned to be less impatient with the puzzle tennis presented me. Seeing the sport played so well in 2002 along with coaching for the first time in 2003 led to wanting to write on the sport. That came true for me as the internet, if anything else, is a great leveling factor. I was bursting with pride when I got press credentials to Indianapolis 2008. Cincinnati and Indianapolis both gave me credentials in 2009 with Cincinnati’s communications director telling me that a site like the one I wrote for would not normally get credentials but that they liked the quality of my writing.
2011 Launch of Tennis Abides
Having established a bit of a voice in tennis, I decided to strike out on my own. I remember this site getting off of the ground in the midst of Novak Djokovic’s masterful 2011 US Open. Rallying from 2 sets and even match points down vs. Federer in the semifinals and then turning back Rafael Nadal’s spirited 3rd set victory in the 2011 men’s final, my site got off the ground right as Djokovic was dominating tennis.
Tennis Abides was a name I arrived at due to loving The Big Lebowski as well as loving tennis. The site had a lot of positive traffic. I got into Twitter. I have never hidden my rooting interests while also trying to be fair to everyone I cover. Roger Federer and many other one-handed backhand players are typically at the top of my list, but I have grown in my admiration of Nadal’s tenacity, have always marveled at Djokovic’s game, and really like Juan Martin del Potro too.
WordPress is the engine upon which Tennis Abides runs. WordPress recommended reposting. I did so and my traffic increased. I make no money from Tennis Abides, but I got a little pushback from some sites and ceased doing this. I cover tennis because I love it and creating acrimony for web impressions was not worth it.
I got into posting match predictions. This too led to a lot of traffic. I don’t gamble on tennis. I posted straight up win vs. loss predictions in short form. Still, this is not my favored aspect of the sport. I generally have a good sense of who will win a match, but how many games, how many sets, and all of that is of zero interest to me. So you may have noticed I don’t do predictions any longer.
Is This The End? No.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides
From Tennyson’s Ulysses
I moved 90 minutes further from the Cincinnati Masters event and quit doing match predictions. Having less access to pro tennis and not doing posts that garnered the most hits may seem like a crazy way to proceed. However, I have my reasons.
- I am playing tennis with the greatest frequency I have since I was in my early 20s. I find that writing about playing tennis is more interesting than making quick predictions.
- I am coaching tennis again. I also think writing about coaching and competition I can see up close is more unique than making quick predictions.
- I found a lot of the trolling and nastiness regarding the pro-game to be a waste of time that only leads to ill will toward players I neither know nor have reason to dislike. I am perfectly comfortable being a tennis coach, someone trying to get better as a tennis player, a writer who happens to have some rooting interests, but who also has no real distaste for players not at the top of my rooting preferences.
- I have made good friends in and around tennis and look forward to posting more book reviews and interviews along with a few product reviews due to my increased court time.
I think telling the story of tennis and tennis players well is a niche I can be a part of filling. There are plenty of sites giving quality predictions for matches.
If you have been wondering why my site has changed a lot since February 2018, I can simply say I want to write the site in a way that best reflects my involvements in and my attachments to tennis. At seven years in, I am getting closer and closer to doing just that. Thank you for your time and readership.
PS – My Tennyson/Ulysses reference about much being taken has to do with some medical obstacles one of my children faces. Time constraints are now quite different than when I was covering tennis for other sites or a lot of my time running Tennis Abides. Writing is not always something I can do these days.