Tennis on TV

Most of us spend hours watching pro tennis on TV; so this question comes from blog reader BJ Miller “What do you like and dislike about tennis on TV?”  Some thoughts and my medical update follow.

The Goods and Bads

Like all of TV “entertainment,” tennis broadcasting is a business with the goal of increasing viewership (and therefore advertising revenue); so they should be striving to attract and please the “customer,” … us.  Are they succeeding?

  • Europe vs. USA – It seems to me that most of the camera angles from European tournaments are too high up above the court and do not give you a good sense of the play down on the courts.  Conversely, many American have excellent, court-level camera positions which enhance the viewing.

  • Announcer Quality – This is a huge factor in enjoying watching TV tennis.  Color commentators like Paul Annacone and Martina Navratilova bring excellent insights to what is going on down on the courts.  While others (who shall remain nameless) insist on telling long stories, ignoring the action that is going on down below.

  • Split Screen Coverage – When there are two “important” matches going on at the same time, networks frequently move to split screen coverage to show both.  I don’t know about you, but I then cannot really see either match well enough to really follow the action.

  • Match Stats – Networks now are getting into the numbers to illustrate what is happening on the court.  While these statistics are interesting, they frequently and not up on the screen long enough to understand what point they are trying to make.

How about YOU, what do you like/dislike about the TV coverage of tennis matches?

Good News/Bad News

Yesterday morning, DeDe and I met with the heart surgeon to discuss what they found in my Friday catheterization and what to do about anything they saw.

The Good News: I really liked Dr. Brian Solomon… he is open, clear and he inspires confidence.  He and his two partners do 800 surgeries a year.  Besides, he was born and raised in Connecticut and went to UCONN med school.  And he has operated on both Gino Auriemma and Jim Calhoun family members.  But, he is a NY Jet fan and doesn’t like the Patriots!

The Bad News: My LAD (“widowmaker”) is 100% blocked and the Ramus next to it is 70% blocked; along with about five other blockages.  So guess what is next?? … out comes the chain saw (probably next week) for bypass surgery.

More Good News: I asked about my aortic aneurysm and he essentially said “don’t worry about it.”  It was only 3.8 and very unlikely to ever increase in size (over 5.5) to take any action. 

Pacemaker? Given “who I am,” he feels I may not need one (and good that I said NO last week; because it would have come out during surgery); but will monitor my output during the time I am in the hospital for post-op recovery.

Next Steps?

  • I have to go in for further tests: pulmonary breathing test, Cat Scan, vascular test (to see what they can take out of my legs to put in my heart), and Carotid artery test.  They will call to schedule.
  • They will try to get me in for the surgery as soon as possible; probably next week.
  • Meanwhile, I should do “nothing strenuous”
  • He said normal would be seven days in the hospital; but he would guess that I could shrink that to five days.
  • No tennis for two months!

And if I did nothing?  My body would continue to compensate for the blockages until it couldn’t anymore, and then I would have “a massive heart attack.”  So, thank you to Fred and Evert for probably saving my life!

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

21 thoughts on “Tennis on TV

  1. Good luck George. I’m sure you’ll recover quickly given your fitness level.

    Scott, that is my belief too! thanks, george

  2. George. good luck with this savvy process you initiated to be proactive with your health.
    Some unasked for advice with good intentions: Your upcoming “nothing strenuous” downtime:
    When limited from “normal” activity, I like to focus on what i CAN do rather than what I cannot. For example, when recovering from major foot/ankle surgery with required extended period of leg movement inactivity, it is a great time to get all the hand squeezers etc and focus on developing wrist, forearm strength increase. Besides the physical benefits, the gratification of doing clear improvement is an emotional boost, never a bad result during difficult times.
    Breathing exercises can produce very beneficial results. A qualified respiration therapist or (again qualified) Yoga “pranayama” instructor can easily help you learn simple, effective breathing techniques. Having something to do that calms you and boosts morale during challenging times can be making lemonade when presented lemons.
    Not everyone relates to the “meditative” , energy balancing breathing regimen. If not for you, find what does appeal to you and make this process more positive to experience.

    Winder, great advice. I know i will need to do something! thanks, george

  3. Best of luck and a quick recovery. Did the Doc talk at all about root cause?? genetics? Make you wonder how many of us who think we are bullet proof because we are very active are walking time bombs!

    Peter, i was just asked the same question by a Naples friend about root cause. I never smoked. Been on a “diet” my whole adult life. Exercise and play tennis six times a week. So that just leaves genetics. Check yourself out and diffuse that walking time bomb. George

  4. George……..best of luck to you old friend. I died on the court five years ago and after the doctors cleared one artery, I was cleared to play tennis in two weeks. You will do fine as the doctors are so smart now. I wish you the same amount of luck that I had. I want to see your smiling face in Naples next year.

    Charlie, was that before or after you beat me in singles?! I too look forward to next year and having a full tournament schedule to enjoy. thanks, george

  5. there is one particular tennis commentator from England and she drives me crazy she say things like
    that was a good shot wasnt it ?? who is she asking a question to haha !!! or he didnt move his feet did he???
    just saying !!!

    Gail, but isn’t that a British thing… to ask a question after a statement? For me, i have trouble with some of the foreign commentators with strong accents. thanks, george

  6. Good luck George! You are in my prayers. Sounds like you have a great doctor and one you like. That is important. As to your aneurysm, I also have an ascending aortic aneurysm, a little bigger than yours at 4.3 centimeters, that we are monitoring at the Cleveland Clinic.

    Ron, as my doctor said to me, “It took 77 years for your aneurysm to grow to 3.8; so i don’t worry about it growing larger in the near future.” Let’s hope the same is true for you. thanks, george

  7. Wishing you the best for the upcoming surgery-You will do well and recover quickly–so glad you were able to be proactive

    Doc, and how do YOU deal with “proactive patients” like me?! thanks, george

  8. George, I am confident that all these years of tennis and a good diet have prepared you for this next challenge. Solving challenges and navigating forward is what you are made of. This is what’s embedded in your genes.
    All The Best my Friend, Fred

    Fred, i am feeling positive about the outcome! thanks, george

  9. Be leary of Jets fans…..head on a swivel. He could break out a J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets chant on you at anytime; inspired by Fireman Ed……..

    Mark, almost as bad as Canes fans? thanks, george

  10. You thanked Fred and Evert, but you need to give yourself some credit as well. You didn’t sit back. You took some action. Best of luck.
    Rick

    Rick, tks. george

  11. Lots of folks cheering for you, George….and we will do anything to help you. ….and yes, I love tennis on TV….but show more doubles!!!

    Scoot, i agree; and i am weird in liking ladies dubs (being a little closer to the game that i play)! thanks, george

  12. Good luck, George! Great advice from Winder. Make some longer-term goals (get back on the tennis courts; Newk’s in October), but focus on achievable short-term goals during your rehab after surgery (a few more steps; a few more reps each day). Your positive attitude will be a great asset.

    Joe, i also liked Winder’s advice and am now focusing on my rehab (skipping over that surgery thing!). thanks, george

  13. George, once again, I wish you a speedy and successful recovery. You are lucky you caught the problem now and not have it catch you later.

    In that regard, would you mind republishing the sequence of tests that you underwent to get to your current diagnosis? I think it would be helpful to have such a list in one place for those of us who are concerned about our own cardiac health to be able to show to our doctors for discussion with them.

    Unfortunately, not every doctor is as proactive as yours apparently are. Many doctors, it seems, almost have a laissez faire attitude about their patients’ health, kind of taking the position that symptoms will generally manifest themselves BEFORE something bad happens when we know from experience that is not always the case — i.e., they don’t call it a silent killer for nothing.

    Therefore, being able to present a list of tests to our own physicians and saying “I want you to check my heart out like my friend’s doctors did before it is too late” might wind up saving even more lives.

    Thanks, Marty

    Marty, the key test for both me and Evert was the CT Calcium Scan. Something i had never heard of; but i picture it being like the PSA test to prostate cancer. It is easy to take and costs $70-100. George

  14. George, All the best with the upcoming procedure. Your medical reports and those of others have already been important to me. Thank you.

    As for tennis on TV, I could on for quite a while, but will try to control myself. I like that there’s so much tennis on TV. Even some of the replays (Rafter v. Sampras, Sampras v. Federer, etc.) have been great. I really like some of the commentators, especially the ones with interesting insights and tightly-leashed egos–Cahill, Arias, Navratilova, Drysdale. However, most of the explanatory stuff seems condescending. I’ve yet to hear a detailed description of how pros return serve, how they get passed at the net with a ball that’s one stride away from them, why both Medvedev’s long backswing and Federer’s short one are effective, or why players hit open-stance when stretched out (or just the fact that they do). Most people watching tennis play tennis. We are interested in how the game is played. Tennis on TV doesn’t give us much to work with.

    I don’t like excessive camera-switching between points–server toweling off, returner toweling off, returner preparing to return, server preparing to serve, returner preparing to return again, close up of server beginning motion, full view of court. I think most of us could better follow play if the camera-switching stopped and we got a full view of the court before the server starts the motion. Yesterday, I saw a shot of the server’s shadow on the court that lasted well into the server’s motion.

    I think the data displays are confusing, say, a two-by-two table with four data entries and a legend below in colors to identify players–for seven seconds. Good luck deciphering that.

    I’m tired of hearing about players going from defense to offense, as though that were some astounding feat. I stretch you wide, you barely get the ball back but it’s spinning and I mishit it short, you rip a winner–defense to offense, not so incredible. Everyone who plays does it.

    I’m not finished, but I feel better now.

    BJ, glad we could provide an outlet for your TV frustrations! And thanks for the idea. george

  15. George : Sorry to hear about your heart trouble ; but glad you and your doctors are on top of it . Stay safe and good luck . I guess I myself would avoid a doc who was a Jets fan. Lol Prayers from San Diego coming for you !

  16. My dad, who was in excellent shape, died of a massive heart attack at age 69 and his LAD was “only” 90% blocked. Good work on being so proactive George and good luck on your full recovery.

    It drives me crazy when they show a close-up of the server and then switch when he/she is in the middle of their serve. They have all kinds of time to show close-up of the players I would rather much rather see the full service motion.

    Dave, i have seen enough sweat drip off Nadal’s nose to last me a lifetime! thanks, george

  17. Congrats on your proactive approach to your heart. I was not quite as proactive (but lucky). About five years ago, I felt “funny” one Saturday morning. Luckily it was raining or I probably would have just proceeded with the tennis that had been scheduled that morning. I had just watched a 60 Minutes show which highlighted the fact that many men ignore heart warning signs to their significant detriment. So instead of playing tennis I told my wife we should probably head off to the ER. Turned out I had a 90+ blockage. After a couple of days and a couple of stents later – good as new.

    Good luck on your upcoming procedure. It’s amazing what they can do these days.
    My partner yesterday at the Strand was Evert who looked pretty darn good. I’m sure, like he, you will be out there very shortly.

    All the best.

    Ted, a great lesson for us all to learn. Thanks for sharing. george

  18. 100% blockage. No symptoms. 30 bpm heart rate. 77. Star tennis player and blogger. I’m sticking with evolved species.

    Kevin, me and the Galapogas turtle! thanks, george

  19. George,
    Best wishes in preparation for your surgery. May your procedures lead to a full recovery and hopefully, you’ll soon be back to doing what you really want to be doing…playing tennis! Think of your “Blog” as the universe telling you to watch more “Tennis Channel” as you heal. While recovering from rotator cuff surgery some five years ago, I received an inspirational quote that helped me through physical therapy ordeal. It reminded me how important the process was in giving me the necessary motivation to get fit again to play tennis. It goes: “Trust the process, your time is coming. Just do the work and the results will handle themselves”. The journey can sometimes be lonely at times, but support from family and friends will help you achieve your goals. Stay confident, stay committed, and challenge yourself to always improve in getting back even better, as I know you will.

    Glenn, good thoughts! thanks, george

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