The Tennis Fan’s Manifesto

Here we are tennis fans. A new year. Another Grand Slam. Two grueling weeks of non-stop nerves, mind-numbing anxiety, long hours, exhilaration, and meltdowns- and that’s just for us!

Let’s face it- it’s not an easy task being a tennis fan, and sometimes the intensity makes us crumble faster than Mikhail Youzhny in a tiebreak. A Grand Slam doesn’t always bring out the best in us.  Some of us choke while others lash out in pressure situations and it isn’t always pretty out there in tennis fandom.

But let’s make this year different. For the 2012 Australian Open let’s do things right.

This year we will come prepared.  We will stock up on all of the essentials beforehand.  Coffee, liquor, nutritious foods, junk foods, energy shots, vitamins, and- of course- tissues. We won’t have the energy or the willpower to go shopping over the next two weeks, so we will go ahead and do it now.  The last thing we want is  to find to find ourselves without supplies at the break of dawn in the middle of our favorite headcases’ third set break-fest.

We will be sure to manage our schedules properly.  We will be mediocre employees and avoid temptation to volunteer for that extra project at work.  We will cancel that family dinner that we’re already resenting and back out of drinks with friends on Saturday night.  Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our friends, family, and selves during a Grand Slam is to keep our distance.  They don’t want us to fake listen while we check our phones for the latest score.  They don’t want to hear about Roger’s back or Svetlana’s fashion mishap or Fernando’s meltdown. We can spare them the boredom and spare ourselves the frustration.

We will follow social media rules and etiquette. It’s easy to get carried away and forget common courtesy, but that’s when things get ugly.  This year we will remember the guidelines. When tweeting and facebooking about the results, we will not tag the losing player.  We will refrain from tagging them in posts where we are bashing their game, mannerisms, or fashion sense as well.  We will do the proper thing and only talk negatively about players behind their backs.

If someone breaks the above rule we will attack them mercilessly.

We will give everyone a break. At some point during the next two weeks we will all feel a little bit like Boris Becker.  By Friday there’s a good chance I’ll be searching for Benneteau’s name in the draw, only to remember an hour later that I watched him self-implode on Monday.  Between the time-zone differential, the rustiness of a new year  (let’s face it, we’re all out of practice with streaming and scoreboard watching), and magnitude of the event we will all lose track of something important at some point.  We will give everyone one pass. Of course, if anyone- especially an announcer or journalist- makes two mistakes, we are free to hold it against them forever.

We will know when to walk away. There will come a time for all of us when the best thing we can do is to step away. Whether it’s to take a walk, to actually get some sleep, or to just change the channel, we will not be too bull-headed to pull out of watching a match or two when we know it’s best for our overall mental and physical health.

And most of all fellow tennis fans, this year we will keep our senses of humor. Before we cry, before we throw things, before we lash out at our tennis fan friends and threaten to quit tennis forever, we will take a moment to laugh.

Because as much as we care, as much as we love these player and this game and the crazy stakes of a Grand Slam, at the end of the day it is only a sport. It’s supposed to be fun. So as we’re choking back tears and chowing down on espresso beans and energy shots at 4AM next Friday while toggling between ten matches and suffering from the advanced stages of sleep deprivation, let’s remember that we love this, that it’s hysterical, and that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With some preparation, perspective, and kindness we can make this the best Grand Slam yet- on our end at least.