Monday, March 29, 2010

DRESSED TO KILL: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

The pros want to kill an opponent on the tennis court, but what about dressing to kill?

The women on the pro tour are playing to kill. Pride and big money are on the line. But some of them are also dressing to kill. Or are they? Dressed to kill means to get noticed, to make yourself look really good by wearing your best clothes. Not so Caroline Wozniacki and some others I’ll go on to mention.

Female athletes haven’t always been sex symbols, models or even remotely attractive. That was before the Open Era. Perhaps it was the beautiful Anna Kournikova [above, right] who changed the direction of tennis beauty and fashion, although Gabriella Sabatini [left] and others went before her. Kournikova certainly helped to change the image of the Russian women, who were largely stout (yeah, go ahead and groan) and just plain plain. In fact, they kind of looked like baked potatoes. Right guys? Now we’ve got all those lithe blonde beauties—Elena Dementieva, Maria Kirilenko, Nicole Vaidisova, and the quintessential fashion plate, Maria Sharapova. [right]


You would think that what the women wear would be the least of their concerns. It’s gone so far that high-profile clothes designers are dressing lovely young women making millions of dollars (or less). Why not? It stands to reason that when you do your job before thousands of spectators in the stands, and with literally millions of people watching you on television the world over, well, you might want to look your best. In other words, with racket in hand, dress to kill (not threaten to kill, as in Serena Williams’ outburst at last year’s US Open, when she brandished her racket at a lineswoman. An unforgettable–and unforgivable?--moment, for sure.)
Some of the women on the tour would look good in a bathrobe. Or even in an apron. Take a bow, Ana Ivanovic [left]. In fact, these days she’s doing better with modeling than with tennis. If her plummet down the rankings continues She’s down to #58 (as of March 22) from #1 two years ago, when she won the French Open. She may yet get the hook and bow out of the top 75. Many others may need some fashion help. But no one needs to have her looks and beauty actually diminished by what their endorsement company and clothes designer advise them to wear.

For a big name, high profile designer, Stella McCartney is doing just that. She is designing some of the least attractive tennis dresses for one of the most attractive players on the women’s tour. Caught in a fashion flytrap, Caroline Wozniacki is her victim. So what gives, Ms. Wozniacki? And Adidas, too. How could you, and why would you, let McCartney design such yucky clothes for this adorable Dane with the long blonde mane? [below and at right]

Kim Clijisters
And, Ms.Wozniacki, why would you agree to wear them? It hit me at the US Open. In the final against Kim Clijisters [above] (not a fashion plate, but certainly acceptable, even attractive, in bright, sporty tennis wear), Wozniacki wore some pukey clay/tan/green ruffled, flouncy thing that couldn’t have been less becoming. I think the color is known as celery, or celadon, a green/tan shade often selected when husbands and wives have to agree on a color for the living room or the den. So here is this knockout teenager (age 19) from Denmark, all decked out in something that looked like it came from a thrift shop. A regular schmata! That muddy color totally washes out Wozniacki’s tanned honey-color skin and her golden hair. She looked like she should be home doing the laundry instead of playing tennis. Yes, I’m being brutal, but someone’s got to knock some sense into her.

And what about Adidas? Why would such a big name in tennis sportswear team up with McArtney-- only to have her put their players in unflattering clothes? Now, I’m not a brand shopper, but I do buy one item by brand. Ironically, I buy only Adidas tennis shoes. Why? They have lightweight styles with mesh uppers, easy to tie laces, and decent support. And they look okay. I usually buy shoes online. I tell you the truth: I look only for Adidas, no matter what the retail site-- Tennis Wearhouse, Tennis Express, the Adidas website, or in a pro shop. Without the guilt of disloyalty, I happen to be considering the new Prince Light speed, as well as the Adidas. I need to make a decision soon, since it’s now warm enough to play outside and my shoes are shot. The Prince shoes arrived yesterday, before I finished writing this.

Do clothes make a champion? Wozniacki, now ranked #2, believes the answer is yes. In an Adidas press release, she explained:

“I started wearing Adidas by Stella McCartney at the US Open last year and I reached my first career Grand Slam final. After that I completed the year strong and finished 2009 as the No. 4 ranked player in the world. So to say that I'm happy with the new line would be an understatement. I really do feel that looking your best on the court and feeling good about yourself is an important factor in how you play. I have had great results wearing Stella’s Adidas tennis line and I plan to continue to be even more successful in 2010. Wait until you see what I'm wearing in Australia, it will be the best yet and I'm so excited."

With this kind of superstition, just think how far she could go if she actually stepped onto the court wearing something truly pretty and flattering!
Let’s hear it from McCartney, who commented, “It’s very rare for a fashion designer to dress one of the top 10 players in the world. I couldn't be more thrilled and happy to be given that opportunity. Let’s hope this will enhance her performance!”
Well, gee, Stella, you’re not a tennis coach! You’re supposed to enhance her looks. As I said, Kournikova and Ivanovic would likely look good in almost anything; even that apron. As would Maria Kirilenko, Dominika Cibulkova, and Wozniacki, too. Anything but a celadon tennis dress. Well, you will decide for yourself, naturally. Taste in women and clothes is a personal matter.
Not much to say about hair. Most of the women wear it long and pull it back into a pony tail or braid during play, a la Ana Chakvetadze. No way could I have all that hair hanging down my back. Talk about hot and uncomfortable! They do let their hair down when they forsake the court for the red carpet or parties. Even Svetlana Kuznetsova is going more for glamour and has given up the short do.  Back in the early 20th century, as you know,modesty prevailed. It wouldbe worse than ridiculous to suggest that players once again cover theirbodies in long skirts and blouses. Who could play tennis in such a getup?

But now we’ve reached an immodest state of undress. Let’s see,  there was Ashley Harkleroad posing nude in Playboy and the skin tightcat suit that Serena Williams slinked around in at the 2007 US Open? You can’t accuse her of being demure, and she would likely resent he label. Although the cat suit has been put back on the cat, Serena, somewhat top heavy, still lets it all hang out on court. As well as on the cover of ESPN Magazine. She looked pretty good, but she wasn’t the only one. Let’s see, besides Ashley and Serena there were Kournikova and Dementieva (on a horse, no less!) Venus Williams[right, in yellow] also caught the bug as evidenced by her flesh color tennis pants, which made her look like she was nude underneath her dress. Talk about déclassé!

The men’s tour, too has been infected by immodesty. Even Fernando Verdasco [right] hung his clothes over the net and jumped over it into the nudity act in Cosmopolitan Magazine in 2008; and there was Tommy Robredo before him. (You won’t find such photos here.Try Google.)But there are likely as many modesty fans as tennis fans who would say that any old dress (or Speedo?)—even something by Stella McCArtney? -- would be better than none at all. Is this the crux of the resurgent interest in women’s tennis? I thought it was “big babe” tennis, as Mary Carillo describes it--powerful tennis by women who are 6’ tall and over, which is a lot of them these days.

 
So, now, let’s go down the line for another fashion unforced error. I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I wouldn’t be caught dead going out with my bra straps showing, in any kind of top or dress, tennis or otherwise. Calling them spaghetti straps is for those who like pasta, and doesn’t have anything to do with good taste. There are too many offenders to name.
Why do the women do this? I can understand wanting comfort; there are dress designs that have bras built in. If these lack support, restrict movement, or are uncomfortable, there are clothes that are styled to cover bra straps. But dammit, don’t make straps part of the dress design! If you are going to allow them to show, at least wear a bra that’s the same color as the dress or top. Black bra straps and an orange dress don’t make a fashion statement. They make a Halloween costume. Pink straps and a green dress make an Easter basket. Any visible straps make a player look déclassé. Spaghetti strap sports bras? Not good fashion. It still looks like your underwear is showing. There are other more attractive alternatives. Okay, call me a snob. But remember, millions of people are looking at you and not just at the way you play tennis.
I’m not the only one in a snit about it.

At the Australian Open referees doubled as fashion police to stamp out skimpy outfits after Alize Cornet [right] caused a stir with a see-through top at the 2009 Hopman Cup. Officials threatened fines of up to $2000 for any player caught flouting its strict dress code. The18-year-old wore a short skirt and a revealing, see-through top during a doubles match at the tournament in Perth. Australian Open referee Wayne McKewen said player's outfits would be scrutinized in Melbourne. "They should be dressed in what we say is tennis attire," he said.

Additionally, one of game's great players, Margaret Court, a three-time Wimbledon champion and winner of 62 Grand Slam events, condemned Cornet’s attire, saying it pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable. "Women don't need to expose themselves so much," she said. "You're good at something, you do it well, you can look so nice without needing to reveal everything.”If they think everybody's looking at their body and they've got see-through and no bra (outfits), it would have to affect your game."
And let’s not even talk about the men! Changed my mind. Let’s do say a couple of things about the men. What can I say? They look a lot like slobs. Slovenly ruffians. The days of whites and short hair are long gone, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Looking back at John McEnroe and Arthur Ashe [left] in tight white short shorts never got me going, and tennis clothes aren’t supposed to do that anyway. Remember Andre Agassi’s [above,right] costume dramas? All black clothes with earrings, and long and stringy wind-tousled hair (He confesses in his book, Open, that he wore a hair piece. Who knew?) Admittedly, I’m generally not a fan of his current shaved-head look, or of his personality. But, please, Agassi, let your hair grow (if it’s still there). Bring back the hair piece! And James Blake, [below, left] bring back the dreadlocks, too. My final words on men’s hair: Gael Monfils! [above, right]


With the exception of Roger Federer and a few others, the men look  slovenly, not divine. Long baggy shorts like basketball players; a day or two of stubble, like baseball players, and big baggy shirts like Who? Tennis players! They sometimes use these to wipe sweat off their brow. Yes, you, Andy Roddick. Golly, Andy, [right] you have all those ball kids scrambling around, just thrilled to be on court to hand you a towel on your command. Does that mess up your concentration or momentum? And though it’s been said that you have lost weight and become more “fit,” (a euphemism for weight) looks to me like you are still eating too much spaghetti or downing a few too many beers. How do I know this? It’s evident every time you lift your shirt to wipe the sweat off your face. Speaking of shirts… If they fit properly, players probably wouldn’t be tugging at the shoulder seams as they get ready to serve. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it, but this a mannerism Roddick has inherited from Pete Sampras.

And what about that young stud, Fernando Verdasco? [above,left, in red] Now this is a real tragedy. Take one very good looking young man, lengthen his hair and make it shaggy, steal his razor and what have you got? An ordinary looking tennis slob. That doesn’t mean I prefer Novak Djokovic, who looks like he styles his hair with a lawn mower.[above, left, with Federer] Nadal’s biceps disappeared when he traded in his sleeveless shirts and knickers for the cleaner--cut look of Nike. At Indian Wells he sported diamond plaid shorts, no less. [below, left] Plaid? Just perfect for the links at St. Andrews in Scotland, where the British open will be played this year.


I may be imagining it, but I have observed that with his new clothes he doesn’t adjust his underwear as often. (That is what he’s doing, isn’t it?) I have also observed that the quality of his game has dropped a fraction, too, and this was before he sustained his injuries last year. He’s still got the inches wide headband, however, which makes him look like tennis’ Spanish version of Tonto--not a flattering look. At least one sports writer agrees with me. In an article that appeared in the Huffington Post during the Australian Open, Paula Duffy wrote:

“…. Have you seen the handsome Spaniard's latest tennis togs from Nike? Orange striped shirt with a white banded collar on top of cream shorts with a window-pane design and tangerine accented shoes. Anyone think it's a good look for him? I don't and I doubt that his female audience is pleased.

“Where's the heat? Where's the in-your-face animal appeal? Nike has neutered this guy who plays tennis in a way that makes these outfits incongruous. He snarls, sweats profusely, gets dirty and exudes the sex appeal of a character in a Harlequin Romance novel. Give him back the clothes that carry it all off.”
Neutered? I love the metaphor, Paula. Amen. But really, why should Nadal care about what he wears? That’s Nike’s concern. Other than the endorsement money, the only thing that Nadal is likely to care about is whether he can play his best tennis in whatever he’s wearing. And that just may be in his former capris (or pedal pushers, or even clam diggers, which is what we also used to call them when we were kids.)



On the other hand, Roger Federer [above,left, and with wife, Mirka] clearly strives for debonair. At Indian Wells he wore a coral and dark gray ensemble. Looks nice. I noticed that his hair seemed a bit shorter at the Hit for Haiti charity exhibition. Looks nice, too.

I’m old enough to remember when tennis was a sport that was classy and genteel. Can’t you tell?


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BARBS AT EXHIBITION STUNG THIS TV VIEWER


Agassi/Sampras Share Needles at Exhibition



“Hit for Haiti,” a charity exhibition match to aid earthquake relief, preceded the current PNB Paribas tournament in Indian Wells, CA. I was made so uncomfortable by Agassi's barbs that I didn’t even know who won the match. Not that it even matters. The match was entertaining but lacked the decorum it should have had. The imitation by Sampras of Agassi's duck-like walk was the one amusing element. Agassi, whom I have never liked as a tennis personality, lacked class when he picked on Pete for being cheap (which he also mentioned in his book, Open). By substituting cheap shots for tennis shots, Agassi was without class as usual. On the other hand, Roger Federer, gracious as ever, went overboard here to keep up that persona. Meantime, an update to this saga is that Agassi admitted he was "out of line" and apologized for poking fun at Pete Sampras. Well, it apparently was worth it. The event helped raise $1 million.


With respect to the women's match-Navratilova was the liveliest. I would like to have heard more chatter from the other players--Graf, Davenport and Henin. Here’s a brief AP article. The final sentence says it all. An article on www.tennisnow.com covers the event and includes a video:


Things Get Ugly Between Two Legends At Charity Event "Agassi/Sampras"


(AP)—An exchange between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras during a charity match has captured the attention of the British tabloids and blogosphere. The Sun and The Guardian newspapers both had headlines touting the verbal volleys the two former tennis champions and rivals took at each other Friday night. Sports blog Deadspin and The Huffington Post also ran stories about it. Sampras was teamed with Roger Federer and Agassi with Rafael Nadal in a doubles match during the BNP Paribas Open to raise money for earthquake relief in Haiti.


The players were wearing headset microphones so the crowd could hear them talking. At one point Sampras mimicked Agassi’s pigeon-toed walk. Agassi, in turn, chided Sampras for being stingy. In his book, Agassi criticized Sampras for being a poor tipper. Sampras then served high and hard, forcing Agassi to duck out of the way. The crowd laughed throughout and both retired players wore big smiles.

Neither showed up at the post-match news conference.

WILL IVANOVIC EVENTUALLY BECOME A "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO" PLAYER?

Note: I was planning to do an article about Ana Ivanovic, but when I saw this one by Richard Pagliaro of www.tennisnow.com, I got his permission to publish it here. Richard was the editor of TennisWeek.com, which folded last December. I had been a contributing writer. He is with not only tennisnow.com, but has also launched a new web site, http://www.10sballs.com/. I am also a contributing writer to both sites.



Ana Ivanovic's Slide Continues
By Richard Pagliaro



(March 13, 2010) INDIAN WELLS — Ana Ivanovic stared at her strings searching for solutions to the problems that continue to plague her, but never found them tonight.
The slumping Serbian's skid continued as she failed to clear the first hurdle at the BNP Paribas Open.
A finalist in each of the last two years, Ivanovic failed to clear the first hurdle tonight, falling to 63rd-ranked Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, 6-2, 6-4, in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open.

It was the fourth straight loss for Ivanovic, who will fall from the top 30 when the new WTA Tour rankings are released on March 22nd. The dilemma for Ivanovic is she needs match play to regain her confidence, but can't break this downward spiral without putting wins together.

"It was kind of Catch 22, so I didn't feel confident enough to play and still or like ready enough to play," Ivanovic said. "And then I would play and then I lost, and so then obviously confidence goes. So it kind of was on a roll."

http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Ana-Ivanovic-Falls-In-Indian-Wells--First-Round.aspx

Friday, March 12, 2010

DROP SHOTS

Drop Shots is a new feature on Tennis Is Tops. This will be a series of brief articles and thoughts about what’s going on in tennis today—or not going on— what went on yesterday, or might go on in the future. Confused? In other words, I’ll be writing about “whatever comes to mind,” (as my sister Judy would say. She’s a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst and doesn’t play tennis, but she works out everyday. Our parents played golf. I think I got the athlete genes.) Here we go…

Where Are They Now Or Whatever Happened To?
There are so many players who were once on the ATP and WTA tours but disappeared from sight. Have you wondered where they are and what happened to them? I’ll drop one of these in every once in a while. I will post this now and continue to add to this list. Let’s roll… I have wondered for a long time about :

Anastasia Myskina-It's likely that not too many of you will probably remember her, although she did win the French Open in 2004. Given the stack of top-ranked Russian women on the tour today, this is hard to believe: Myskina was the first Russian female tennis player to win a Grand Slam event . Add to that, she was the first Russian female tennis player to reach the top three in the history of the rankings. (Watch for more about Russian players in a future post.) In September 2004 she reached a career high of No.2. Because of injury, she has not played professional tennis since 2007. She has a “Coming Soon” website: http://www.anastasiamyskina.com/, and a fairly complete write up in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastasia_Myskina



Thursday, March 11, 2010

This just in: Philadelphia Freedoms Schedule

Some big names are coming to Philadelphia this season: Venus and Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Anna Kournikova, and Martina Hingis, my favorite. Instead of the King of Prussia Mall parking lot (a venue I hated), Villanova University will host the matches this year.  And, by the way, it was announced later in the day that Martina Hingis, who will play for the New York Buzz, will face top-ranked Serena Williams  on July 9 at the Glens Falls Civic Center. For more information, go to www.philadelphiafreedoms.com. Here's the schedule:

2010 SCHEDULE (all matches are in July)

Thu. 8 - Washington   (V. Williams)
Fri. 9 - NY Sportimes
Mon. 12 - Boston (J. M. Gambill)
Tue. 13 - Washington   (S. Williams)
Thu. 15 - Boston     (Roddick)
Tue. 20 - St. Louis (Kournikova)
Wed. 21 - NY Buzz (M. Hingis)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

TENNIS ON TV- INDIAN WELLS, CA TOURNAMENT

http://www.bnpparibasopen.org/

The BNP Paribas at Indian Wells, CA, March 8-21,
has begun.
But you can't begin to watch it on television--Fox Sports and Tennis Channel--until Saturday, March 13. The television schedule is on the tournament web site (see link above), where you can also see the daily results.

ARCHIVE

Another link includes all current articles visible on the home page. I will add new articles as they are published. Consider this an archive that will hold all of this site's content. It also contains articles I wrote for www.tennisweek.com, which folded in December, 2009. I was a contributing writer. I am now a contributing writer for two other tennis websites, http://www.tennisnow.com/ and 10sballs.com. Richard Pagliaro, who was the tennisweek editor, is editor of these sites.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Website Update, March 9, 2010


Hello, tennis fans. There is something new here. I recently posted a new article, "The Loud Roar of the Silent Crowd" (below). Also, on the left side of the page you will see a link called TennisWeek articles. This is an archive of all the articles I wrote for TennisWeek.com, which folded in December, 2009. I loved writing for Tennis Week, and enjoyed a wonderful professional relationship with its editor, Richard Pagliaro (right). I am very happy that Richard has found his way since then. He is now with 2 websites (included in the websites list). He started 10sballs.com, and has also joined tennisnow.com. These are newsy sites with lots of features, including Richard's videos about what's current in tennis and what's going on with the pros. Richard took me with him. The articles you see here are also posted on those two sites. Scroll down to see each article.Jean

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Loud Roar of the Silent Crowd





Serena Williams, Melanie Oudin,Venus Williams, Roger Federer
Could They Do It Without Us? (No!)
“Thanks, you guys have been great all week. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for all your support.”

How many times have you heard Serena Williams, Roger Federer and so many other tournament champions express their gratitude in the trophy ceremonies to fans in packed houses around the world? They do it not only at the majors in New York, London, Paris, and Melbourne, but also at tier one events in Dubai, Indian Wells, Toronto, Miami, and many others. It’s the first thing they say. In a recent example, here’s what Venus Williams said after she won the Billie Jean King Cup (March 2) at New York’s Madison Square Garden:

“There was definitely a real connection…,” said Williams, who defeated Kim Clijsters, 6-4 3-6 7-5. “They were just rooting me on and it felt great. That’s the most fun I had in front of a crowd anywhere. It’s nice to see how much it means to them having tennis at the Garden.”

But have you ever heard the invisible silent crowd? Wha’? A silent crowd? Yeah, the global crowd of millions who are watching their favorite players on television, or just thinking about matches regardless of whatever else they might be doing. If you haven’t heard them, you just may have seen their influence–a win for the player with the most fans the world over. (Yeah, right!)

Most athletes, and certainly World Tour tennis players, have benefitted not only from the roar of the crowd in the stands, but perhaps also from the unseen power of positive group thinking. You see, I believe that the universe rules in the world of sports, and that includes professional tennis. It’s been said by the Zen and karma crowd that when a person puts out a vibe or certain type of energy it can and will be picked up by everyone! But how about when everyone throws positive vibes or collective energy toward one player in particular? I believe that a person’s positive thoughts are being felt by others all the time, whether you realize it or not. Is there an indirect fan impact on athletic performance? Say fans all over the world want Justine Henin to win Wimbledon- a trophy she cannot yet claim as hers. Assuming she is healthy and can play, will a Wimbledon trophy continue to elude her- or can the fan universe put her in play? Did the weight of tennis universe want Clijsters to win the US Open?

Let’s put it on a personal level. While playing a match, have you ever upped your game when people show up to watch? They may be watching your match while waiting for another to begin. And I don’t mean friends and relatives, who often make people nervous, a subject that continues to fascinate both players and sports psychologists and scholars, for understandable reasons. But what about strangers who have no relationship to you whatsoever? Suddenly your serves are faster and harder, you move faster, you make incredible shots. Yeah, you’re showing off—so what. If it helps you to have more fun and to win, good for you.

By the same token, in pro tennis it’s rare that the winner of a match doesn’t thank the fans in the stands for their support. That’s not hard to understand. There is a lot to be said for having a large group of people cheering you on and helping you out with positive energy... So, perhaps there is support in another dimension that can influence player performance. It is my theory that that millions of people around the world watching and rooting for a Roger Federer, a Serena Williams, or even a lower ranked player, can create an unconscious positive energy that somehow reaches those players and helps them along--similar to a different stratum of reality, as conceived by the late Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology. So this is not your standard Dale Carnegie power of positive thinking stuff. What I’m talking about is the possibility of a Jungian twilight zone of fan influence on the mortal affairs of the top tennis players.


Take the example of Melanie Oudin, who mowed down three top ten players to reach the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open. No doubt, the American crowd helped pull her along. But, on some dimension did it also matter that millions of us were rooting for her from our rec rooms? In subsequent tournaments, however, where she hasn’t done nearly as well, did fans substitute expectations or a “wait and see attitude” for a vigorous root ‘n toot energy? Similarly, picture football fans jumping up and down at home, as well as in the stands, yelling and whooping loudly when “their” team scores. (Perhaps you are one of these. I’m not; I save my energy for tennis.) Another example: In the 2009 baseball World Series, were more people at home in New York, and even around the country rooting for the victorious Yankees than for the loser Phillies—and could that actually have influenced the outcome? Let’s ponder this: Was that in play when Kim Clijsters-- the sentimental favorite as the comeback mom-- won one more game on her way to an unlikely US Open victory? In other words, it may just be possible that players at the top, like Roger Federer and Serena Williams get a boost and stay at the top because millions of fans around the world are rooting for them. Granted, this may be a quandary worthy of Jung.


Who is a fan and what defines one? A review of a scholarly study of fan support at small college athletic events, which appears in The Sport Journal of the United States Sports Academy, may prove illuminating. According to this study,”… most true fans attend sporting events because of some deep involvement in what the authors describe as ‘the almost religious rituals’ one sometimes associates with the sporting event itself. While there are many ways of developing an interest in a sport, one of the principal methods of developing deep knowledge of a sport is through participation, either as a player or as a spectator. “

Religious rituals? Although clearly I am given to flights of fancy, that’s even more intensity than even I can imagine. What’s even more interesting is this conclusion from a study of hockey fans (released in 2009 by Canada’s Laurentian University's Institute for Sport Marketing). This study confirms what every die-hard sports fan instinctively believes:
“Cheering on a hockey or any other team does have an impact on a player's performance and in combination with other factors, can help influence the outcome of even the most nail-biting of games.

"…When we examined 33 possible variables affecting players during a game,” the study says, “We found that while obvious factors like coaching, mental training, high performance support, and physical preparedness are paramount to all athletes for optimum performance, cheering can also impact the on-ice performance of our elite national women's ice hockey team and other high performance players surveyed…These results confirm what fans have believed all along - that crowd support is an integral part of competition and has the ability to play a supporting role in changing the outcome of a game."

The theory goes a step further in another study (reviewed in Qualitative Report, 1997) that differentiates fans from spectators. One of its conclusions states that “whereas a spectator of sport will observe a spectacle and forget it very quickly, the fan continues his interest until the intensity of feeling toward the team becomes so great that parts of every day are devoted to either his team or in some instances, to the broad realm of the sport itself.” And yet another study states: “It seems reasonable to suggest…that fandom comprises more than simply attending and observing a sporting event.” Rather, being a fan "represents an association from which the individual derives considerable emotional and value significance"

With so much evidence regarding in-house, real-time fan support, let’s raise it to a higher level. Can “fandom” occupy another larger, yet invisible, and as yet unexplained dimension, that also is a factor that can influence who wins and who loses a tennis match? I believe that it does. Okay, call me a loon. Although I am about as middle class and conventional as any club player, perhaps over these many years, watching tennis and rooting for my favorites (and the influence of my husband Gary) has made me a happy “victim” -- right here in the Open Era of the 21st century --of the New Age philosophy rooted in the 1960s and ‘70s. Maybe I should find a Jung disciple for some intensive therapy--along with a good tennis instructor. Even so, please root for me this spring when I start to play again. I’m not generally a winner, but I’ll report back at the end of the season to let you know whether I might have been a beneficiary of a silent crowd (which I hope are my readers). Oh well, these are just some musings as I gear up for The French Open, which doesn’t begin until May 23.

According to my view, you might also make a difference. Start now to root for your favorite players and begin to build the global energy of fandom. Once again I’ll be rooting Serena Williams and Roger Federer. Given their success so far, especially in the majors, those of us in the “silent” universe of tennis seem to have been doing pretty well on that score.