Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Tennis players must stop squealing

Maria Sharapova of Russia in screaming action. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Maria Sharapova of Russia in screaming action. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Thank heavens the Women's Tennis Association is clamping down on the shrieking and wailing that has spoiled so many games for tennis fans over the years.

Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are the worst culprits. They're like human vuvuzelas in the annoyance stakes, with their ear-splitting squeals rising in volume and frequency as they progress throughout their games.

But they're not alone. A number of other female players are also guilty of producing the noise that is blighting so many tournaments.

The WTA says squealers who are on the circuit at the moment will not be disciplined as they developed this particularly annoying habit when it was allowed.

Some say the players do it to generate an extra ounce of power when they're hitting the ball, yet Sharapova still shrieks even when she's producing a drop shot requiring finesse, not force. And one of the greatest players of all time, Roger Federer, barely lets out an exhalation as he sends the ball powering towards the backhand corner at 200km/h.

So that theory doesn't wash.

Others say it's a form of cheating, preventing the opposing player from hearing the sound of the ball on the racquet and depriving them of knowing how and when the ball was struck.

For the spectators, it doesn't really matter. It's off-putting and many fans, myself included, simply won't watch the shriekers no matter how well they play. I'll read the result of the Australian women's final in the calm and quiet of my office.

Coaches of up-and-coming tennis stars have been told not to instruct their proteges to scream when hitting the ball and if young players commit vocal violations, the WTA has promised that in the future, they will be fined.

Can't come soon enough for me.

- Herald on Sunday

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