June 5th, 2016. I think back to that day and remember all the happiness I felt when Nole finally won Roland Garros. I remember going out to dinner and taking the following day off work. It made what Nole accomplished even sweeter. All I wanted out of tennis was for him to win that title. Now it had happened. I was on top of the tennis world.
Ten months later, tennis and I are on bad terms. Probably the worst since I became a fan of tennis in 2011. To get to this point, it’s not just one thing, but several that are contributing to me getting to this point.
After Nole won Roland Garros, there was seemingly nothing that could stop him from his dominance of the sport. Then it happened. He got injured right before the Olympics. Since then nothing has been the same. Nole showed up at the US Open a few weeks later and wasn’t himself. It didn’t seem like he would finish his opening match. At that moment, it was all about his health for me. I just want him to be able to play his best. When he’s injured, he can’t do that.
2017 started off poor as well. Then came one of my favorite parts of the season, the US masters events. I was looking forward to Indian Wells and enjoying Nole’s matches. Then Nole’s injury flared up again and he couldn’t play Miami. At that point, I was done with tennis. I boycotted Miami. I haven’t attempted to watch any of it. I’ve checked scores and Twitter for updates, but I can’t watch it. Tennis isn’t giving me the joy it once did if I can’t watch my favorite players.
It’s not just Nole. My favorite WTA player, Sabine Lisicki, hasn’t played a match in 2017. My second favorite WTA player, Simona Halep, had a knee injury at the end of 2016 that showed up at the Australian Open. Up to this point in the season, my favorite players have withdrawn from more tournaments than played. That’s a tough way to keep interest if you can’t watch the players you most want to watch.
Not only have my players been hurt, but even if I wanted to watch a WTA match, I’d have to find a bootleg stream. I did that a few times earlier this year to try to watch Elina Svitolina win a few titles. They were terrible quality streams and not worth even attempting to try. That’s why people pay for a legal service so that they can watch reliable streams. Not offering a streaming service in this day and age is suicidal. Not having anything in place months into the season is even more unforgiving. The problem is, it doesn’t seem like they’ve even reached an agreement with a company to set it up and provide it. We may very well not see a streaming service in place this entire season.
The last thing decreasing my interest in tennis is players I don’t like winning. I’m not going to find a bootleg stream to watch players I don’t like winning. It’s all adding up in 2017 for me.
When it comes to sports, my interest has shifted over the years, in terms of which sport is my favorite. Baseball was always my favorite sport growing up. I particularly loved it from 2000-2005. I would watch all the playoff games. I couldn’t get enough. Then the local professional hockey team got good and hockey took over as my favorite from 2006-2010. In 2011, tennis became my favorite sport and has stayed that way ever since. Seeing what’s happening in the sport and knowing my history with favorites changing, I’m wondering if I’m going through another change in favorite sport.
One thing I have been enjoying in 2017 is NASCAR. I tuned in for the biggest race of the season, the Daytona 500, like I usually do. When I did, I heard news that they’ve changed the format of the races. Now they have stages in each race. If you finish in the top 10 in a stage, you get points. I was skeptical if it would be a good idea at first, but now I’m a firm believer. Awarding points throughout a race and not just at the end, shows consistency better. Also, if a driver gets in a wreck late in the race, if they placed well in the stages, it salvages their day a bit.
I became interested in how the stages would impact the points standings. I’ve been following the standings closely in an Excel spreadsheet, breaking them down by stage points and finish points. Doing this has caused me to watch entire races. It’s a pretty fun sport. It’s interesting to see how the tracks impact how the race goes. It’s completely different each week. I’m enjoying seeing how it all plays out each week and learning about all the different tracks. It’s been an interesting season too because up until last week, the winner of the race wasn’t the dominate driver. Even last week had a surprise though. At the very start of the race, a driver sustained damage to his car. Three laps later, he was spun out. He battled all race long and ended up finishing the race second. That’s why I’m enjoying NASCAR. It’s amazing what will transpire over the course of a race. So much happens and there are always surprises.
Part of how sports become my favorite though is going to them and seeing things up close first hand. That’s why I love tennis as much as I do. I don’t plan on going to a race, although there is a race very close to me. I’ve heard races are good with access and maybe could be the only sport that could compete with tennis from that standpoint. I’ll have to go to a race someday, but I don’t plan on it this year at least.
Up to this point, I’ve discussed how I’m losing interest in tennis. Now let me tell you why tennis will remain my #1.
The biggest reason is Novak Djokovic. He is my idol. For me, nobody can top him. It’s not just his tennis. It’s who he is as a person. That’s always what it’s been about. I love his tennis and the way he twists his body all around just to get one more ball back, but I love who he is as a person more. He’s a passionate guy about everything he does. He sets high standards for everything in his life. He’s thoughtful in his responses to questions from press, making sure he gets exactly what he wants across, no matter how long it takes him. He’s someone that’s irreplaceable to me. Nole has helped me mature. When he was doing so well, it gave me a lot of confidence as well. I learned a lot from the way he played to become so dominate in the sport. I saw his style was like other top athletes in other sports. That kind of style would apply to life in general to be successful as well. Just because he’s sustained injuries, doesn’t mean I’m gone for good. I’ll wait as long as I need to for him to be healthy and be able to produce a high level of tennis again. As long as he takes the court, I’ll support him and look forward to seeing him play. That will never change.
I might be enjoying another sport more at the moment, but there’s nobody singularly that will keep me watching it. There’s drivers I like and root for, but not close to the level I do with Nole.
Tennis will stay my #1 because I’m still interested in the sport. I may have boycotted Miami, but I often find myself loving the sport and finding I can watch just about anybody play, mostly on the WTA side though. Indian Wells would be a good example of my interest still being there. Nole was out of the tournament and I still was turning on the matches. Tennis is funny. A result can happen that makes you so frustrated. You swear you’re done with it. Then the next day, you go right back to watching it. This has happened to me so many times. It can even happen many times over the course of a single tournament.
Now that the early hard court season is over, I’m hopeful the clay season will bring better things. Perhaps Nole will be back, as it appears he’s trying to play Davis Cup next weekend. I think Rafa is going to have a great clay season. He’s had a great season up to this point, so now that he’s back on his best surface, he should only get better. I’d love to see him and Nole battle in their 50th career match this clay season, preferably in the Roland Garros final, but if Nole’s healthy, they may play a few times before Roland Garros.
I realize how fortunate I was to have Nole play as well as he did for so long. My other favorite teams in other sports even had great successes over that time as well. Since that Roland Garros title though, it seems like all the teams I dislike the least in all the sports have been winning the biggest titles, with one exception, the Chicago Cubs. I would’ve taken anything you offered to guarantee Nole would win Roland Garros. I guess now I’m paying for what I would’ve given for it. I guess if anything, I was able to be apart of some championships before all these bad sports results started happening, so that diminishes the blow. Some good things have happened as well that I cherish. I just hope sports start turning around soon and I can enjoy what happens more.