Posted by: cindystephenson | June 28, 2009

Should tennis pros have to give up the grunt?

Monica SelesEven if you aren’t an avid tennis fan, you may be aware of the controversy brewing over what should be done about pro tennis players who grunt (some would say shriek) long and loud after every shot.

Fans are complaining and opponents say it’s deliberate and puts them off.  In some cases the sound is still ringing around the court as the opponent is trying to make their stroke.

Last month at the French Open, spectators booed 16-year-old Portuguese player, Michelle Larcher de Brito.  Her opponent, France’s Aravane Rezai complained to the umpire, although no action was taken.

The challenge? Proving that a player’s grunting is deliberate – and not a natural release of energy during high-level tennis –  is difficult. However, tennis officials are apparently meeting in Wimbledon this week to see if anything can be done to make enforcement of grunting more official and more explicit.

Dennis O’Connell has been studying the role of grunting in sports for several years, and notes there is scientific evidence to show that grunting benefits your game.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who has won 59 Grand Slam titles, believes grunting is damaging the women’s game.  She recently called it cheating and said it should be banned.

So on the one hand, grunting is an expression of the power that goes into hitting the ball, without which some players would suffer. But it can also be distracting to opponents, not to mention annoying for the rest of us.

I think it’s time to get out the grunt-o-meter and warn players when their shrieks exceed some sensible limit!

Photo credit: Solitaire_6812 – Monica Seles sparked complaints from Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1992

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