What role does hearing play in a tennis match? It can have an impact on you as a player if you can’t hear; but also if your opponent can’t hear.
When I was back in Connecticut, the indoor club I played at opened two outdoor HarTru courts for use in warmer weather. Problem was, the facility was right next to Interstate 84 and had constant, heavy truck traffic.
Players could not hear the sound of the ball coming off their opponent’s racquet and could hardly hear the score being announced. After just one season, the club closed the outdoor courts.
For me, when there are leaf blowers and heavy lawn equipment operating right next to the court I am playing on, I find myself at a big disadvantage. You don’t realize how much you rely on the sound of the ball coming off your opponent’s racquet to know what to expect from that shot.
From the Other Side
Blog reader Adam Pollock had an interesting experience playing a USTA tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. He writes …
“It was the first round of the 60’s and I was paired against an unseeded player from Massachusetts. When we met at the directors table I could see immediately he was a gentleman. Before the match, he told me that he was hard of hearing. He said he would not be able to hear my calls, and would I please use hand signals and speak to enable his lip reading. The hearing aid in his ear was mainly for music he told me.
“The reason I am writing to you is because I found the experience of playing with somebody who, for all intents and purposes is deaf, is a unique and wonderful opportunity to relate to your opponent.
“Think about it. He relies upon your hand signals for everything on your side — for example to determine whether the serve and other shots are in or out, whether there is a service let, and to confirm what the score is.
“In addition to dealing with nerves, a game plan, and proper execution, remembering to use hand signals and to articulate in a way that he can read your lips is an added responsibility to take on- one that changes the dynamic of the competition.
“Taking on the role of communicator in this way requires that you think about the other player’s needs on every shot so that he can access instantaneous information. It places a small burden on you to work for your opponent to make sure that he is not disadvantaged. In a small way, you become a part of his team. This responsibility connects you in a way that two adversaries would not ordinarily be. It changes the game from win-lose to win-win, the latter occurring when both players have left the court feeling a fair and honorable competition has taken place. Like all aspects of the game we love, it’s a metaphor for life.”
Great story Adam. Thanks for sharing.
Other comments on playing with or without hearing, or a hard of hearing partner?
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