If you're a tennis fan or player, think long and hard about it.
Michael Chang has to be one of the most, if not THE most, revolutionizing players in tennis in the past 20 years. Here's just a few of the ways he changed the game for the modern fan and player:
• First of all, thinking about what he did at the 1989 French Open, and the way he went about playing throughout his career, always forced you to dig a little deeper: whether you were playing your Monday night league match or playing for your high school team. If you were down, that didn't necessarily mean that you were out. Keep fighting, get one more ball back and you could be rewarded at the end. (As I type, I'm suffering from a slightly overstretched groin muscle after doing a split to keep a ball in play. But I won the point!)
• Without that French win, would Pete Sampras, Jim Courier or Andre Agassi gone on to be three of the greatest players of all time? All three of them at numerous times over times over their careers have said that "If Michael can do it, then hey, maybe I can, too." It forced them all to work harder and start to envision the possibility of winning Majors. And millions of fans can rejoice to that fact.
• Tennis isn't just for the giants. A player that's 5-foot nothing with a pop-gun serve at the start of his career getting to number 2 in the world, winning over 30 titles and almost $20 million in prize money? Anyone can play and do well at it! It's the size of the heart and determination that count, which Chang had by the ton.
I know there was some debate as to whether Chang belongs in the Hall of Fame because he only won one Major and never got to number 1. In my mind, though, there was no question. Congrats Michael! I and the tennis community out there owe you a world of thanks!
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.