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JAK'S MONTHLY ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best


By Jak Beardsworth

I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing on the Tennis Channel's recent coverage of the 2019 Barcelona Open.

An umpire in a black coat flips a coin at the tennis net between to tennis players dressed in white. Old School
Just prior to the start of an early round all Spanish match between veterans Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez the chair umpire, player favorite Fergus Murphy, met both players at the net, as is customary, for the traditional coin flip to determine choice of serve-return-side. But Murphy wasn't holding a commemorative coin, he was carrying a tablet for what turned out to be an electronic coin flip that would interface with the jumbo scoreboard screen for fan viewing with each player's face on one side of the on screen "coin."


Tennis has made many great innovations over the years, some grudgingly, that have advanced the game forward out of the, thankfully, bygone country club, shamateurism days. Having made my first mark in the game in the 60's (yes with wooden rackets strung with gut), I have been the beneficiary of witnessing almost six decades of positive changes.

This was surely NOT one of them.

Here's my top 10, to the credit of the game's alphabet governing bodies, to name a few:

  1. White to optic yellow balls
  2. Tie-breakers
  3. Computerized line calling (Hawkeye etc.)
  4. Player line call challenges
  5. Electronic net cord detection (too bad for Bud Collins' mythic Fingers Fortescue)
  6. On court posted radar timed serve speeds
  7. On court between point time clocks
  8. Changeover time limits
  9. Injury time outs
  10. On court medical attention

One can only surmise that the Sangria must have been flowing freely when the Barcelona brass decided that the traditional coin flip, with an actual coin, was deemed to be apparently antiquated and not modern enough in the digital age.

Innovation simply for the sake of innovation itself is not innovation? No doubt these blue blazers decided that today's fans would rather watch a giant TV screen than the actual principals live on court in which the umpire normally, clearly orchestrated the results without being plugged in.

Hey fellas, check the demographic in the seats!

Are these the same bozos who dyed their beautiful red terra battue center court blue a few years ago? Actually, it turns out it was not them. That was at the ensuing event at Madrid leading up to the French Open. Nonetheless, maybe there's something in the water that irrigates the Spanish vineyards.

What's really needed these days, and I mean really, is an on-court decibel meter to curb the ridiculous off-the-charts yelling, screaming, and bizarre groaning of certain players at the shot-making moment, both male and female alike. Interestingly, on the men's side, it's coincidentally (?) the Spanish leading the way with their sound barrier breaking, sustained moaning exhalations.

This epidemic is ruining the game and influencing far too many developing juniors, some next-gen pros, world-wide. Tennis is not Olympic power lifting.

While watching an ATP 250 series match awhile back, a journeyman American player became so frustrated and enraged with his French opponent's sustained screaming at the top of his lungs on every shot, amplified on the indoor court, he screamed out at the top of his lungs with a menacing stare while heading for his chair on the changeover: "Shut the f--- up." If memory serves, he received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct from the chair umpire.

How about something like this: First a warning is issued if a player exceeds the set decibel limit. Thereafter, unlimited point penalties occur without ever reaching automatic loss of set or match. Just loss of point. Simple. Knowledgeable fans would grow weary of the deafening offender and voice their displeasure over such boorish behavior.

Now that would be a welcome next innovation to our beautiful game.

Copyright© 2019 by Jak Beardsworth Tennis. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

COMMENTS WELCOME: JB1tennis@comcast.net

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Past Essays

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  • April 2024 - Coulda, shoulda got that: The Art of Poaching
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  • March 2024 - Get Your JuJu On
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  • February 2024 - Giving Opponents too Much Respect
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  • January 2024 - Rally Ball Or Pull The Trigger
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  • December 2023 - The Forgotten Stop Volley
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  • November 2023 - "You're Only as Good as Your Second Serve"
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  • October 2023 - good misses vs bad misses
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  • September 2023 - Why good players are good players!
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  • August 2023 - On poaching and fake poaching: Becoming a Force at the Net in Doubles
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  • July 2023 - The Beautiful Game is Getting Ugly
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  • June 2023 - The Approach Dropper: Lob Killer
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  • May 2023 - Why club players don't practice
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Essay Archives

Click a year to view more essays


  • April 2023 - DON'T FIGHT TIGHT
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  • March 2023 - Classic finish line failure
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  • February 2023 - Defending the lob over your net partner - The "Switch"
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  • December 2022 - E. I. D. - Extended Impact Duration
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  • November 2022 - Movement Enhancement to Stay Better In-Point Connected
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  • September 2022 - Advanced Visualization 301
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  • August 2022 - Tennis' uniqueness: warming-up the enemy
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  • July 2022 - Extracting Double Faults Through Receiving Positions... and more
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  • June 2022 - Consider Serve and Volley
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  • May 2022 - How the Toss Primes the Serve Relaxation Pump
    [read more]
  • April 2022 - Ball Watching and Science
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  • March 2022 - Caving
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  • February 2022 - Kenny G and Emmo
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  • January 2022 - The Knees
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  • December 2021 - The Match is with You
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  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
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  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
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  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
    [read more]
  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
    [read more]
  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
    [read more]
  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
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  • May 2021 - The Focus
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  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
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  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
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  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
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  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
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  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
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  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
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  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
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  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
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  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
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  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
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  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
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  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
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  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
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  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
    [read more]
  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
    [read more]


  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
    [read more]
  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]


  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]


  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.