Tennis today is better than ever. So is technology. We have tennis players who are wonderful athletes–I think the best in the business–and play a game that is faster, harder, and more difficult to succeed at (at a professional level) than any other time in history. Technology has come a long way as well. I remember when a computer came out by a small company named Apple Computer. The year was 1984, and the computer was the Macintosh. It was revolutionary in design, user interface, and ease of use. But a funny thing happened on the way to Apple's success. Windows. An obvious and blatant copying of what had already come before it, Windows owes its existence to that which paved the way for its success.
We have many wonderful players in today’s game of tennis much like we have a great multitude of computing devices to choose from. But someone had to pave the way, and for that, we need to respect and revere what standards were set in the past. Players love to debate over old legacy tennis vs. newer contemporary skills. When those of us who have been around a while recall what a beautiful and craft-filled sport this was, the newbies call us winers. I say to those people that perhaps you are the one who needs to button the lip. We older players were on the court when you were in diapers. We blazed the trails in recreational tennis, clubs, and audience support for the game. We have an appreciation for what you will never know. When someone twenty years younger says "I can understand where you are coming from", to be honest, you really cannot. You see, we were THERE, and we are still HERE TODAY. We older players are more than aware that the game has changed, and I have certainly seen my own adjustments in play over the decades I have chased around a fuzzy yellow ball. I love seeing the athletic performance of these lean and mean tennis machines on the court today who can hit at over one hundred miles per hour 3+ hours into a match. But I beg to differ when it comes to saying that today's tennis is better. What we enjoy for ourselves is what is better–for us. So when we express our opinion about it, must we be branded as winers? Maybe we simply have a broader perspective from which to judge.
Many of us believe that the serve and volley should be reborn. Some of us just want more variety in the "new" game. Maybe this is old fashioned thinking, but everything that is current is not always better. Windows 7 tries to compete and match the Macintosh OS X operating system in the computer world and does pretty well. But how were computers with DOS before we had a graphical user interface that introduced a mouse, folders, and point-and-click like the Mac did in '84? Android-based smart phones are all the rage in tech today and they are getting better all the time. But what phones worth mentioning existed before the iPhone? Once again, something had to set the standard.
Time brings innovation and new generations advance us forward. But sometimes it is three steps forward when we could actually benefit from two steps back. And when it comes to whether or not old school tennis fans have it right or wrong, just remember that we were here first. We're happy to have given you the benefit of our experience for you to grow with. Now if we can only get you to use our gift wisely and actually show some respect to those who laid the groundwork for what you enjoy today. That is why what we say is still relevant, and the apprentice would be wise to learn from the perspective that the older master might be able to provide.