PLEASE, be different, be yourself, don’t be pressured into being someone you’re not, or growing up too fast. Self-expression should be celebrated and the old stigmas of times gone past are being broken down, stand with us and be buoyant about the progression we’re making as a people..
..unless you’re at Wimbledon, or a young Australian tennis player.
Wowee, wasn’t that a fun week for the men’s game in this country? Two of our most promising sportsmen lambasted, beaten from pillar to post, insert many more clichéd sporting analogies about archaic violent discipline here.
Upfront let’s not call the boys angels, I don’t think anyone would say that (Anthony Mundine might, sure).
No-one in the slightest would be so approving of Bernie’s public disapproval of Tennis Australia, no matter the real story behind closed doors there’s better ways. And no-one really likes Nick’s petulance towards court officialdom; again, there are certain expectations around respect and sportsmanship.
But the response from all the experts, the pubic, even the Minster for Multiculturalism and Cultural Diversity Dawn Fraser, really?
Talk of Davis Cup bans, even just general pro-circuit suspensions, the boys should lose their sponsorships, they’re less marketable now than a Greek bank, they’re brats, ignorant, disrespectful, borderline national disgraces who we are equally ashamed, disapproving and distancing ourselves from.
Well that’s fair enough I suppose, because we are all so perfect in our lives, and for those particularly interested in tennis we never really liked the flamboyance of a John McEnroe or Henri Leconte.
No, not at all, more robots and dull personalities please, imagine for a second being stuck in a lift with Andy Murray, you’d take the stairs for the rest of your life just to 100% rule out it ever happening.
Let’s tick off Tomic first, given he has ticked off the nation, again.
And this is possibly a devil’s advocate view, but we should in the least avail ourselves to it.
Bernard is 22, born to a Croatian father and Bosnian mother who fled their country before things got really hot, spent some time in Germany where Bernie was born before migrating to Queensland.
Lleyton Hewitt aside Australian tennis was so on the nose ten years ago we were five minutes from some federal politician calling for a Royal Commission.
A sport we’ve dominated for years, with names like Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Rafter and we found our Davis Cup teams losing to Gibraltar and whoever else got a tennis racquet for Christmas.
Tomic first came on our radar at aged 12. Bang!, the media jumped on him and saw him as the saviour, the prodigal son, he would win the grand slams we long yearned for.
At aged 12? He’s only a couple years past getting his pen license and he’s already on a pedestal.
Combine this pressure, this long wait, the rising expectations with a clearly, well, ‘passionate and slightly ill-informed’ father ruling his life, no wonder he has clunky moment after clunky moment.
The staggering thing is that when Bernie had a go at Tennis Australia mid-week, there’s probably some truth to it in the background. Alas his execution of airing those concerns and any validity in the story gets overlooked.
He is definitely a slow maturer, his level of performance hasn’t been there and he too has been accused of tanking. He is now a bonafide top 30 player in the world, no whiff of tanking for ages and he is genuinely on the rise.
How far he’ll go will inevitably rest on the relationship with his father (and a big hello to Jelena Dokic), and that’s unfortunately a very sad thing.
As for Nick, wasn’t he our golden boy five minutes ago, based on the perception he was more talented than Tomic with half the other rubbish? Or where we wearing our rose-coloured glasses again?
Let’s rattle these off, starting with his personality. He has a joke with the crowd, he doesn’t take himself so seriously (big cheerio to Andy Murray), he had such an interaction with a member of the audience he found him post-match for a selfie. And he is 20.
He is 20. He is a young, talented individual who is enjoying being in the spotlight and making you smile. He attracts the massive crowds and for all the right reasons. You see a brilliant tennis talent who will take you along for the ride, how good?
Ok, so he gets grumpy. He is 20. We’re lucky he doesn’t partake in golf weekends with Karmichael Hunt, let’s be real about it.
And sure, he didn’t give a yelp for four points in the second set against Richard Gasquet. The naysayers and the chest-beaters won’t be telling you that if he really was into tanking, explain the comeback from two sets to love down to really rather impressively take the third set and come ever so close to pushing it into a fifth?
The world’s best player, Roger Federer, didn’t just excuse the tactic but said he does it as well. Well, what do you know?
Further, Richard Gasquet is a fair player in good form, he is taking on world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals so in terms of overall performance, not a bad campaign for Kyrgios at the age of 20.
And let’s be even more honest, you reckon Beats by Dre are going to withdraw their support? Whether you like it or not his marketability probably increases, by accident, once again. Stiff cheddar.
He had an indifferent day in what’s been a wonderful start to what will be a huge career – sincere apologies for the balanced view, clearly many out there will find that difficult (you still with us Dawn?).
Nick, Bernie, and don’t forget Thanasi, are three very young men, who aren’t perfect, aren’t fully grown up yet, but if we’re to shamelessly revel in their inevitable successes to come we need to be balanced, realistic and supportive of their careers now.