We’ve all misbehaved just a little bit on the tennis court, haven’t we? Who among us hasn’t called a close shot out when a point was really crucial? Or dropped our racquet in disgust after our partner misses a really simple volley on match point?
What better time than the beginning of a new year to brush off the bad habits and become both the best doubles partner and human being you can be?
Hoping to inspire tennis players worldwide, my research team and I conducted yet another rigorous scientific study, this time asking amateur doubles players across America the following penetrating question: “Yo, what’s your New Year’s tennis resolution?” Herewith, the 12 most popular responses, complete with actual quotes:
1) Cheat more covertly.
“I won’t call a ball out unless it hits the very edge of the line.”
2) Honor crappy players.
“I’ll actually give credit to “pushers” who beat me with soft shots and lobs, even though I hate their game style and want to stab them in the parking lot afterward.”
3) Respect imperfection in others.
“I’ll stop dumping partners each time I lose a match and try to accept the fact that no one plays as flawlessly as me.”
4) Grunt more graciously.
“I’ll try not to grunt so loud that they can hear me four courts away even though I know it really distracts my opponents and probably helps me win matches I’d never win otherwise.”
5) Express displeasure discreetly.
“I’ll try not to roll my eyes or slump my shoulders when my partner makes a dumb mistake – unless I’m really sure she can’t see me.”
6) Avoid premature annihilation.
“I’ll be cooperative in my match warm-ups and stop trying to intimidate my perky blonde pony-tailed opponents by hitting winners before they count.”
7) Employ Zen-like commands.
“I’ll work hard to eliminate the high-pitched note of hysteria when I yell, “Yours!” “Go!” or “Short” to my partner.”
8) Don’t be a hog and a boor.
“I’ll try not to lurch sideways on the court to cut off the low cross-court ball that’s going directly to my partner’s racquet. And if I do, I’ll try not to blame her when I miss it.”
9) Pay attention to details.
“When I forget the game score (even though my opponent called it before each of her serves) I won’t ask her to justify it by reciting the details of every point that came before just because I have the attention span of an eggplant.”
10) Stop bullying opponents.
“Accept even the worst line calls with dignity. Then refer to Resolution #1 (cheating more covertly).”
11) Practice better sportsmanship.
“I’ll stop saying “Waaaay out!” when my opponent hits a ball that barely missed the line.”
12) Strike only in retaliation.
“I’ll aim my overheads at my opponents’ feet only. Unless they’ve hit my partner or me. Then all bets are off.”
Armed with these 12 simple tweaks to your tennis mindset, I’m confident you can look forward to a year filled with victories, camaraderie and a heightened sense of self-worth. But, if these vows don’t stick, know you’re in good company: the average life span of a New Year’s resolution is only about as long as it takes to read this article. Happy 2017!