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Soup of This Day #209: Making The Most Of Everything

July 9, 2012

Centre Court at Wimbledon
Wimbledon, the home of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club and the most prestigious of Tennis’ 4 Grand Slams. Englishman Fred Perry won the 7th of his 8 Grand Slams here in 1936. He notched his 8th Grand Slam a few months later with the 1936 US Open. Perhaps confused by the word ‘Tennis’ being in the title, Perry was also the 1929 Table Tennis World Champion. That Fred, he loved his tennis, he did – Photo: daniel.richardson0685, 2012 daniel.richardson0685 is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I don’t like tennis.

I’ve noted that previously. Twice. It’s probably wonderful to play and I appreciate that it takes a lot of skill and effort to do well at it but it sends me to sleep if it’s on TV and I can’t reach the remote in time. It’s the hypnotic and repetitive sound of a ball meeting some tautly stretched catgut that does it.

And yes, catgut is still in use today, even with synthetic options being widely available. It is not from the stomach of cats. It is in fact typically from the intestines of cattle, hogs, donkeys and horses. The next time somebody tells you that their new racquet is so good it purrs you can now suggest to them that it more accurately moos, oinks, brays and neighs.

I like tennis even less now.

But this is a sport blog and last night was the Wimbledon Men’s Final for 2012 so I’ve decided to get off my high horse and write a post dedicated to people who smack around small felted green balls with racquets made of the tensioned guts of, well, high horses.

Yep, I’m going to write about tennis.

In the style of a hypothetical game show.

Because it’s my blog.

So without further introduction it’s over to our host…

Novak: Hello everyone and welcome to Tennis Jeopardy, the show where you have to answer a volley with a serve.

[Pauses in vain for laughter. Audience groans]

Novak: Tough crowd! And I didn’t even call for silence yet?

[Pauses. Audience groans again]

Novak: And Djoko double faults to start the game. Well, before I get another warning I think we should meet today’s contestants. Serving from the northern end is Roger – Tell us about yourself Rog.

Roger: Hi Novak, I’m Roger and I’m a tennis player. I think I’m pretty good at it – I’ve won 17 Grand Slams and this 1 time I won a cow.

Novak: Wow. Just wow. You’ve won a cow? Tell us about that?

Roger: That’s all there is to it. I just won the cow… [Trails off lamely]

Novak: Hmmm… Fasc-in-at-ing dude. [Shuffles cards while feigning interest] Let’s move on to Mark. You’d be a tennis player too Mark?

Mark: Not really mate. I’m a Formula 1 driver.

Novak: [Concerned] This is a special tennis Jeopardy Mark – I’m not quite sure what you’re here for?

Mark: Well, this is being played out in Longworth72’s mind. He’s not into tennis so I’m on to ensure that he doesn’t fall asleep while writing. That also explains why his wife is over there in a string bikini. [Gestures towards scantily clad woman to left of contestants]

Novak: I was wondering about that. [Shakes head wryly] I’m sure our 3rd contestant is a tennis player though – I’ve seen you around the courts a bit John?

John: [With roguish charm] Yes Novak, that’s on the line and in play – I used to be a professional player but nowadays I mostly hit a few in the Master Series and talk about Tennis on TV.

Novak: Great. It’s good to see that even though you’re off the main circuit you still find time to hit a few tennis balls.

John: [Looks shifty] Tennis balls… Yes… I hit tennis balls…

Novak: Okaaaaaaaaaay, next up in the order of play here on Centre Court is Andy. Give us an insight into yourself A-man.

Andy: [Sobbing] Hi, [Sob] I’m Andy. [Sob] I’m a [Sob] matador [Sob] from the island of [Sob] Majorca [Sob] in the Mediterranean. [Sob]

Novak: [Smiling kindly] It says on this card that you’re a professional tennis player from Glasgow in Scotland Andy.

Andy: [Vehemently] I’m not. Am not. Not. Not. Not. [Wails loudly and thumps buzzer before subsiding into occasional sobs]

Novak: [Briskly] Ok we best keep this thing moving. Choice of ends goes to you Rog?

Roger: I’ll take ‘Tennis’ for $71,126,377.

Novak: Righto then. I am the World No.1.

[Roger buzzes]

Novak: [Surprised] Yes Roger?

Roger: Who is Roger.

Novak: [Embarassed] Ahhh…. Sorry Roger, that wasn’t the 1st clue – I was just thinking out loud.

Roger: [Confused] But I am the World No.1. [Pause] Again. [Pause] As of last night, when I…

Novak: [Interrupts, making soothing hand motions] Yes, yes Roger, if it makes you feel good. The 1st clue though is: 1936.

[Andy renews loud wailing as John buzzes]

Novak: Yes John?

John: [Smugly] When was the last time a British men’s singles player won Wimbledon. [High-fives Mark]

Novak: An ace John. It’s fantastic to see you doing your homework before speaking on air. We should of course note that Fred Perry, who won that 1936 title is actually the last British player to have won any of the Grand Slam men’s singles titles, a drought that stretches back a touch under 76 years. As opposed to Serbia for example whose last such win was 6 months ago. [Modestly points to self] What’s your next pick John?

John: I’ll take ‘Tennis’ for a lot less than they get nowadays. [Scowls bitterly]

Novak: [Chuckles and Andy halts wailing to smile weakly] Yes you will John. Here we go: I won the British GP at Silverstone yesterday via a brilliant overtaking move on Fernando Alonso with 6 laps to go, moving me to within 13 points of the lead in the F1 Driver’s World Championship after 9 of 20 races.

[Mark buzzes]

Novak: Yes Mark?

Mark: Who is me.

Novak: Well handled Mark – It is of course you, which isn’t bad for a No.2 driver. It’s interesting to note that despite being an Australian you live just 30 minutes from Silverstone, while the 3 British drivers who lined up yesterday live in the tax- haven of Monaco. There’s some irony.

[John buzzes]

John: [Becomes more strident and ends at a shout] What is it called when the results of an action are CONTRARY TO THE DESIRED OR IMPLIED EFFECT.

Novak: That wasn’t a clue John. You’re just performing for attention now and I’ll ask you not to shout if that’s ok – There really is no need to distract the other players at this point. Now Mark, what would you like on the grid?

Mark: Can I have ‘Tennis’ for a large shiny cup and could someone ask Longworth72’s wife to cover up a bit? She’s a right looker that 1 and I’m having trouble focusing on the breastions.

Novak: I think you mean questions Mark and yes she is 1 hot tamale. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball – Fortunately we have just the 3 clues to go. So at 15 to love-Novak [Sotto-voice] Don’t mind if I do [Resumes normal voice] and here comes my incredibly powerful, all-conquering and manly 1st serve with the next clue: [Grunts loudly] I won my record-equalling 7th Wimbledon Men’s Singles title last night, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

[Andy stops sobbing and buzzes in]

Andy: [Hopefully] Who is Andy?

Novak: [With pained expression] No Andrew – I’m sorry to say that the correct answer is: Who is Roger. Unfortunately for you and I Roger has been the answer to a lot of questions about men’s tennis since 2003 . [Andy re-commences sobbing as Novak pauses to shake his head in sympathy]

Novak: So our penultimate clue now with advantage, nobody: I am an Oscar-winning actor who played McHale in McHale’s Navy and Dutch in the seminal Western, The Wild Bunch. Longworth72 though will most fondly remember me for my key role in Ice Station Zebra on the big screen and my supporting role in TV’s Airwolf. [Grunts softly and reverently]

[Mark buzzes]

Mark: [Solemnly] Who is the truly wonderful Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012.

Novak: Well said Mark. [Pauses with head bowed, as do contestants] And so we come to match point and it’s a cheeky out-swinging 2nd serve of a clue from me: Yes I am.

[John enthusiastically buzzes in]

Novak: John?


Novak: A forehand winner from John is close to the line but Hawk-Eye says… IT’S IN… John wins. It would be really nice if you could stop hitting the buzzer with your chair now John – You are the winner!

[Roger buzzes]

Roger: Who is Roger Federer.

[The audience applaud and the credits role]


Host – Novak Djokovic as himself: Australian Open Winner (W) (2008, 2011, 2012), French Open Runner-up (F) (2012), Wimbledon W (2011), US Open W (2011), Tour Finals W (2008) and Olympic Games Bronze Medal (2008).

Contestant No.1 – Roger Federer as himself: Australian Open W (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), French Open W (2009), Wimbledon W (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012), US Open W (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), Tour Finals W (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011) and Olympic Games 4th place (losing bronze-finalist) (2000).

Contestant No.2 – Mark Webber as himself: 187 Formula 1 races, 10 poles, 32 podiums and 9 wins, incl. Monaco W (2010, 2012) and Silverstone W (2010, 2012). Finished Driver’s World Championship in 3rd (2010, 2011). Currently 2nd for F1 Driver’s World Championship after 9 of 20 2012 rounds.

Special guest star, Contestant No.3 – John McEnroe as himself: Australian Open Semi-finalist (SF) (1983), French Open F (1984), Wimbledon W (1981, 1983, 1984), US Open W (1979, 1980, 1981, 1984) and Tour Finals W (1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1989).

Contestant No.4 – Andy Murray as himself: Australian Open Runner-up (F) (2010, 2011), French Open SF (2011), Wimbledon F (2012), US Open F (2008), Tour Finals SF (2008, 2010) and Olympic Games 1 Round (1R) (2008).

Making The Most Of Everything

  1. I thought Johnny Mac did an excellent job as himself. And what a “self ” he is…complex and captivating.

    • Have to admit that he’s grown on me since his days on the main tour ended. He’s not bad behind the mike – Still a bit intense but when you’re questioning the players and providing insight into what’s going on in their heads that’s not such a bad thing.

      Doesn’t make those tantrums ok but it’s good to see him mellow a bit with age.

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