It's only a mere matter of days before the pro tennis players hit the court again for the 2009 season. I know: It seems like they just left! I mean, weren't we just talking about Shanghai and Doha?
Here's my thing, though: I've always had mixed feelings about the offseason for the pros, particularly its length. Everybody who follows tennis knows what the pros think about it—it's way too short. And I guess if you were to think about it, then technically they're right. I mean, most of the players are participating in a season that takes up 40-something weeks of the year. Once that huge run is done, there's a few weeks off, then Bam! Right back at it. Throw in the travel around the world and back, and all the practice that has to be done while not at an event, and it makes for a ridiculous grind.
I can't think of a pro sport that's close to being as long with the extra elements. Golf? You can't say that because for the most part, the tours are regionalized. Ninety-nine percent of the PGA Tour events are played in the U.S. And there are different continental tours, meaning you can play from close to the comfort of your own home.
Here's why sometimes I don't sympathize with the tennis players on their complaints about the offseason:
You don't have to play every week! You have mini offseasons in-season.
Let's say you're a top player: Rafael Nadal, for instance. In 2008, Rafa played 19 events (including the Olympics), winning eight titles. He also played two Davis Cup ties for Spain. Now let's say that's about 25 to 28 weeks of the year, including the two-week events. Now last time I checked, there are 52 weeks in a year. So that's about 24 to 27 weeks of no tournament play! I don't know about you, but I think more than five months off is a pretty nice chunk.
Also, if you were to win every match you play during the tournament, that's still only five days out of seven at a one-week event you're out there, or seven out of 14 at a Slam. So there are off days over the course of a tournament.
And here's something else: An eight-hour shift is not devoted to practice, practice, practice. I'd assume about half of it goes to that.
See why I'm mixed on this? In relation to other sports, the pros definitely have it rough. But from what I gather, there's a lot of down time over the course of the year. And I don't want them playing every single week of the season, the argument just gets kind of lost on me sometimes. I wish I had an offseason! Don't worry, not from TTA?, but the regular 9-to-5. I can't let my boss see that because there's a word for offseason in my world: "Fired."
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.