Sunday, July 13, 2008

Where would YOU be without this man?

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!

(Photo: AP)


Shelia said...

Chang definitely signaled a new era in tennis in a lot of aspects. I think that the most significant thing that you mentioned is that vertically challenged guys could be such a threat. He made that fact loud and clear!

freakyfrites said...

Thanks for this, Van. I've read a lot of the Chang HoF naysayers, so it's nice to read another take. He's an interesting case, no?

I'm trying to think of who else may fit into this category. . .one major, lots of tournaments and lots of heart.

Andy Roddick? He's so different than Chang, but in this way he's the same.

van said...

• Yeah, Sheila. There's a whole world of little guys out there playing that owe Chang a world of debt on the tour, like Hewitt and Clement for instance. Schuettler plays a lot like that, too.

• Hey Freakyfrites, Chang definitely is an interesting case. Roddick could be a good comparison as far as the one Major, lots of heart goes. A-Rod does have that top spot over Michael, though. Plus, I wonder if A-Rod will be able to win another Major to widen the gap.

Steve said...

Hi Van

i've been away for a week so just catching up. I agree with you on Chang, the guy was an inspiration.

That said, part of me still wishes Edberg (another one of my favourites) had beaten him in the French Open to complete his career slam.

Anonymous said...

"Andy Roddick? He's so different than Chang, but in this way he's the same."

You've got to be kidding.