Sometimes I just get frustrated. I can't begin to explain why, or to what extent I might blow. Bad calls, series of bad calls, players who clear into you, players that come close to hitting you with the ball, losing. Whatever the reasons may be for getting frustrated during a match, it's still an emotion that's natural. This is something I just went over several months ago.
Frustration again brings me to write this article. It was the impulse, the spark, the passive comments after a tight match and the events that followed during the Seattle Open.
It was the third round match against Mike Houghton from Portland. Mike and I were exchanging points feverishly. Well played points, we were what I consider even players. Mike took the first and third games. In the fourth I came back from 2-6 to 9-8 and game point. The game was crucial, adrenaline was high. I was serving for game and while turning around to chase down a lob I collided with Mike a little behind the T. My racquet was jammed into my stomach and I doubled over. When I straightened up, I asked for a let and was denied. What ensued was a 10 minute argument on what constituted a let. I was plainly interfered with and was unable to get to the ball. However, the ref called it no let and seemed not to understand that there was contact. Fact is, the other player kept me from moving to the ball (if the ball had nicked on the back wall then I say no let… but it did not. It would have been playable) and this was not getting through to the ref.
Now, I understand I get a bit hotheaded out there in tournaments. That's just the way I play. But when I go postal, then a call must be really bad.
After a few minutes, a guy enters the gallery and says (in jest) that I just complain a lot. The ref took that comment as enough and stated “no let” matter of fact. Mike and I exchanged several more services before he reached match point and then took the last point.
To say the least I was furious. My frustration level after that bad call peaked and, well, there went a racquet into the side wall (do not worry, it was not Indestructo). Immediately I was on Mike with well wishes for a well played match. I never slighted him in any way.
But when I exited the court I said some pretty strong words to the ref, words that were, well, very strong.
I eventually apologized to the ref for the ballistic word used, but could not apologize for how I felt about the call.
Afterward, several people felt the need to approach me and tell me their feelings on sportsmanlike conduct. One guy said I should not have thrown my racquet (his words were it was a point deduction). Guess he failed to realize I had already lost the match. Another person just looked at me and shook his head. I was well calmed down by then, gabbing away with other players, but I was consciously getting this “bad boy—shame on you vibe” from people. That pretty much capped the moment. It seemed like I was some kind of a 18 year-old punk—and some old babushka was wagging a finger at me for putting my feet up on a public bus.
I think I was more frustrated at the condemnation than I was at the ref. I was expressing extreme frustration that, albeit I admit, was pretty uncalled for, but damn people, move on.
I think the most frustrating comment was when a guy who's game I respect came at me with the “Gentleman's game” comment.
A shake of the head and the “It's a gentleman's game” line. What does that mean anyway? Gentleman's game. Does it mean that only a “Gentle” man can participate? That you cannot argue a point, because a Gentleman would accept a bad call with dignity? Wake up!
Gentleman's Game. No wonder the game denotes such a stuffy disposition to non-players—I am picturing in my head a crew-necked Biff of a guy telling me (in a Cape Cod kind of British accent), that I can play squash only if I play like a gentleman, and adhere to the staunch rules of conduct associated with wearing my all-white jock strap too tight.
Blow doors on that my friend.
This Gentleman's game image has long gone the way of the deceased, white-tennis-clothed lawn-clubbing hardball lifer. Reality is, the game has moved far past that stereotype and there are a number of people that just have not caught on.
With the introduction of softball and the public court, the game has gained more recognition and players than ever before. All types of players are out there. People with “gentle” dispositions and people who put the balls to the wall and get into their play with all the hellfire they can muster. They are getting into competition and they have loud voices and colorful speech! Accept it. So what if a guy yells $#*& on court, give em' a conduct point and be done with it. Ain't nothing we haven't heard before.
Where I really try to be as controlled as possible, I do not deny my emotions, nor can I accept a bad call, just because it's the “Gentleman's thing to do.” I play the bloody 3.5s, that's trench warfare, the breeding ground of the viral masses. Most of the time I am ducking for my life!
People get fired up and blow sparks. I say once again, whatever. Get over it and move on, have a beer, grab a handful of chips—but don't double-dunk the dip, that's un-Gentleman like.