Sports & Fitness


by Akumbu Uche

So, the premier Grand Slam of the year is just days away and all those practice session pictures of Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and co. on the Australian Open Facebook page are making me feel guilty.

After much self-analysis and sober reflection, I have come to the realization that my problem is neither muscle fatigue nor laziness but avoidance.


OK. What I’m trying to say is that the reason why I’ve been staying away from the tennis court is because I’m trying to dodge certain kinds of people who usually congregate there. I call them, the 5 people you don’t want to meet on a tennis court.

Here goes:

       I.            The Fashionista

Role Model: Anna Kournikova

Known for: Looking cute. With their visible coloured bra-straps and crotch-skimming outfits, they usually look more suited to the Victoria’s Secret Pink Collection runway.

My beef: I have never seen them warm up. When everyone else is doing press ups and squats, hear them: “I can’t. My skirt is too short.” How about 5 laps around the court? “I’m going to sit down now, I’m getting hot.” When they are not moaning over a broken acrylic nail, they are re-applying their SPF 15 lip balms.

    II.            The Coach

Role Model: John Tomic

Known for: Feedback, unsolicited feedback.

My beef: If you’re too near the base line, they’ll let you know; ditto if you’re too far. To hear them give you such a detailed breakdown of your backhand, you would think that every hitting practice was a chance to win some prize money. For all their theoretical expertise, their favourite spot on the court is the bench. Best word to describe them – annoying.

 III.            The Fan

Role Model: The Top 4

Known for: Their obsession with the ATP rankings.

My beef: They can’t make a play without a reference. “Should I do my Andy Roddick serve or my Pete Sampras one?” They’ll interrupt you to say, “Hey, let me try something I saw Monfils do last night.” Even off-court, they can’t help themselves. Tail them at a party and this is how you’ll hear them assess the opposite sex: “This one has Venus’s height; that one has Kirilenko’s legs.”

 IV.            The Pro

Role Model: Roger Federer

Known for: Turning down a placement at the Botillieri Academy to attend the Nigerian Military School (dem say, dem say; a ga-aju onye?)

My beef: If you want to hit with them, they’ll tell you point blank: “I don’t want to spoil my hand.” The worst mistake you could ever make is to pair up with them for a doubles game.  On the rare occasion that they don’t monopolise your side of the court, you had better not miss a point or you will hear, “(Insert swear word), I hate playing with amateurs.”

    V.            The Angry Bird

Role Model: John McEnroe

Known for: Their never-failing ability, on all court surfaces, to point out the indentations made by the ball.

My beef: They are so powered by aggression that they are always on the offensive. Play with them at your peril because their every shot is intended to hit you squarely in the face. More painful is their ability to start quarrels. Before you know it, everyone, from the ball boys to the umpire, is exchanging words and the instigators? Well, they’ve flown away.

All this coming from the 6th kind of tennis player to avoid – the one who can’t return a serve to save her life – priceless.

See you at Melbourne Park!