By TW Contributing Editor Andrew Burton
Brits, Australians, South Africans, Indians, West Indians and other members of the cricket diaspora will recognize 50 not out as a decent knock, but no great feat. In tennis terms, it's the equivalent, I suppose, of winning a Masters 500 - your family and friends take notice, but the rest of the world is likely more interested in whether Michael Vick can still scramble past defensive linemen in a pre season game, or how the Japanese Little League team is doing at the World Series.
Today marks 50 not out for me, and Pete has kindly allowed me to mark the occasion with this Your Call. I spoke with Pete briefly yesterday: he's in full swing for the start of the US Open, with a Tribe social event lined up for the middle weekend of the tournament. I'm sure it'll be a terrific event - a virtual community is one thing, but nothing cements relationships like meeting face to face, preferably with a GE or two in the mix.
It's been three years since I made my first comment at TennisWorld, a characteristically geeky post using a decision tree to analyze the potential outcomes of the 2006 Wimbledon SFs and F (if memory serves, I had Federer 98% over Bjorkman, Nadal 65% over Baghdatis, and Federer 75% over Nadal). Since then, there's been a bunch of geek stuff - the Picks Games, stats analyses of the ATP Open Era Elite, and even an attempt to run Monte Carlo simulations on Nadal's and Federer's chances of getting a calendar year Grand Slam. That post confused more people than Sarah Palin's attempts to explain how she was stepping down as Alaska governor to give a point guard an open shot.
I've also had fun with a Site Rules compliant story of the Federer/Nadal bromance, Encounter in Red, and sounded off on why the CBS commentary team should be more like silent Steve Ulrich.
Even more amazingly, I've had the experience of working with Pete, Steve Tignor, Kamakshi Tandon, Joel Drucker and other journalists covering Masters 1000 tournaments at Indian Wells and Toronto in 2008 and 2009. Writers like Asad Raza and Ed McGrogan were commenters to TennisWorld before they were contributors to Tennis magazine: Rosangel's action photos from the European clay and grass tournaments can be placed alongside the best of reuters and Getty.
But I'll keep coming back to friendships - some coming from long, almost interminable discussions about who is or who isn't the GOAT (or a member of several sub species, goatus numericus, goatus aestheticus, or goatus dentroadmirabilus). Others have literally popped up initially as a text message on my computer screen, with online chats going late into the night about whether players respect their opponents too much, or just can't handle the shots they hit. Binding us all together is a love of the game - some as players, some as ex-players, some (where have you gone, Chris Lewis?) Wimbledon finalists, some just wannabes.
Wherever you find it, community is precious. Keeping a spirit of passionate but civil debate alive about a sport which retains the power to provoke, amaze and delight has been Pete's mission, and steggy's (alas), and the current crew who make TW work. That includes all who watch, read, lurk and post, whether out of joy, despair, a desire for comfort or just a need to figure out who can be no 2 at the end of the week.
So, the picture I've attached is me applauding all of you - Pete, who makes it all possible, the Mods for keeping it pleasant, Sylvia (who's put up with this blog taking up more of my free time than she bargained for three years ago), a few coaches who've tried and failed to teach me a consistent service toss, and all the friends I've made (including the ones I've disagreed with) over the past three years. A votre santé.
This is, among other things, your Your call for today. Enjoy today's tennis!