Grunting has no place in tennis
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
“AHH!” “MMMM!” “UGH!!” “OHHH!” Upon first hearing these noises, one most likely jumps to the conclusion that something, or someone, is in pain. To be perfectly frank, someone is in pain. But it’s not the person emitting the noises—it’s those who have to listen to it.
Grunting/yelling/squealing like a stuck pig appears to be a staple in today’s tennis world. Many players seem to be completely incapable of performing properly without producing a thoroughly annoying sound. It’s made it almost impossible for me to watch tennis anymore. I’ve contemplated tearing my ears off, but it’s easier to just change the channel. Tennis, you’ve officially lost a prospective fan.
But what’s wrong with a little additional “ambience” at a game? Other sports have similar sounds, don’t they?
No. No they don’t.
The most acoustically repugnant occurrence at pretty much every other event is the tone-deaf anthem singer, and that only lasts for a few minutes. Grunting in tennis, however, is a constant throughout the match.
Moving past the annoyance factor, the question is raised as to whether it’s sportsmanlike to make such caveman-like communication during a match. If it’s distracting to the fans, just imagine what it’s like on the court. Maria Sharapova’s emissions have been measured at 101 decibels. 101 decibels is approximately the same as a chainsaw, a pneumatic drill, or an airplane landing. She’s only about nine decibels short of a lion’s roar. Just try and ignore that. It’s a strategy. A tool. A great way to get one’s opponent off of their game. It’s turning one of the more dignified sports into a classless act.
The argument that some players need to grunt holds no water. Have you ever heard Roger Federer make a noise? Despite his obvious lack of skill in this area, he’s managed to do quite well for himself. As for all that “science” about how yelling helps to focus energy, it’s just a bad cover up. Do you honestly think that players’ practice sessions have as much shrieking? It’s probably as quiet as the grave. Nothing but the squeaking of sneakers and the thwack of the racket hitting the ball.
Grunting is a disgrace to tennis. It’s loud, obnoxious, and completely unnecessary. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there with a working pair of lungs, so as long as it’s allowed to go on, the game will continue to lose fans.
Grunting: it’s here to stay
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
One might say that tennis is the lone sport known for a specific “noise.” An impudent shriek, otherwise known as grunting. It’s a noise that goes with tennis like peanut butter goes with jelly; hand in hand.
I compare the grunting in tennis like laugh tracks in television. You don’t really notice it unless you pay attention to it. And then once you do, it’s hard not to listen. With certain tennis players, it’s a lot more obvious than others. Their grunts can be simultaneous, loud, soft, screechy, or even deep and low, while other players are simply silent, with the fans hearing only the sounds of the ball and sneakers screeching against the court.
Sure, grunting is acceptable to a degree, but when does it become too much? What draws the line of where it’s more about throwing the opponent off their game than letting out steam after a follow through? According to a Globe and Mail article, Maria Sharapova has reached as high as 101 decibels on her grunts while Michelle Larcher de Brito has hit the 109 decibel marker from her own noises. These measures are comparable to the decibel metre of a chainsaw, leaf blower, tractor, and even a rock concert.
Perhaps something can be done about this situation? A limit to the loudness of the grunts. This can be supported by a device system installed into the court that measures how loud each player lets out steam. If they get too excited after hitting a shot and shriek over the limit, than some sort of penalty can be assessed.
This brings up an element for the players that hasn’t been investigated enough: grunting could rightfully be a technique that the players use to take advantage of their opponents. There is no particular consequence or penalty that can be handed out to such actions. So why not give it a shot? Grunt louder than you normally would. Practice makes perfect. Just ask Sharapova.
“I’ve done this ever since I started playing tennis and I’m not going to stop.”
She’s not going to stop, its part of her game and completely part of her mindset. Telling someone to monitor or stop doing something that they’ve been doing their whole lives really isn’t fair. If that’s the way Sharapova has practiced her art, then it would be extremely difficult to take that aspect away from her game. It would take time to regain her level of success just by making sure she consciously needs to control her level of noise. Maybe the grunts that Sharapova lets out have played a part to the structure of her game, benefiting her professional career.
Whether this is a dilemma or not, the fans are looked at as the ones who are suffering from the tennis players’ grunts. Some have even resorted to wearing earplugs just to block out the sound from entering their eardrums. But in the end, the fans really don’t have a say in this situation. They’re there to watch the talent and the players, and the players are there to play the game—the same game that they’ve been practicing their whole lives. The players aren’t going to alter their game just to keep the fans’ ears in check.
One can hope that in the near future, the up-and-coming tennis players don’t follow in the footsteps of the Sharapovas and Larcher de Britos of the league, but until then, tennis fans will just have to make sure to keep an extra pair of earplugs handy.