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The Underrated Trait of Showmanship in Tennis
Thursday, 02/04/2021
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Image Source: Unsplash

Fundamentally, sports participation is, at its very core, a matter of striving for success. In tennis, this is no different. That said, because of the racquet-sport’s set format, some top-level players seek to integrate elements of showmanship into their styles. For many years, there has long been a debate regarding the balance between showmanship and sportsmanship, particularly with their distinct differences. However, if contemporary tennis is highlighting anything, it’s that entertaining players are grabbing the headlines more frequently than model professionals.
Of course, participants need to back up their styles with technical ability, but, on the whole, the 21st century has seen tennis enjoy something of an entertainment revolution. Moreover, the same can also be said for many sports, including MMA, for example, where Conor McGregor has led the way by generating interest in his contests through his personality. So, let’s take a look at why college players shouldn’t shy away from embracing an entertainment-centered playing style.
The Need to Captivate Audiences 
In many walks of life, success can often be quantified numerically. For tennis, this could relate to Grand Slam victories or career longevity at the top of the sport. However, those with more on-court success aren’t always going to be the ones that spectators remember in the coming years. Personalities, on the other hand, typically live long in the memory.  
Throughout the past few decades, Andre Agassi is a prime example of how showmanship can heighten tennis’ entertainment. Having won eight Grand Slams throughout his trophy-laden career, the former world number one is widely considered to be one of the sport’s most captivating players. Agassi would often integrate showmanship into his on-court style, as he once wore a neon-lit dress for a game. On other occasions, the Las Vegas-born star admitted to wearing wigs.
With Agassi, it’s apparent that he found the balance between entertainment and arrogance. That, combined with his talent, has seen him become one of the sport’s most famous stars. While adopting an out-there style like the now 50-year-old won’t guarantee success, it could help to add further dimensions to any aspiring players’ games. Early in your career, it may be more beneficial to focus on honing your talent and keeping a level head, as highlighted in our report on Tyler Zink being named Rookie of the Year but a personality on and off the field surely helps draw attention to that skill.
Finding the Balance Between Entertainment and Arrogance While Staying Professional
Following the Agassi era, tennis endured something of a decline regarding unique players who thrived on being a showman. One of the reasons for this perhaps concerns the dominance of the sports Big Three; Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. Generally, these three are regarded as being model professionals who pride themselves on adopting a traditional style.
That said, in many ways, tennis’ 21st-century growth can be attributed to their success. Following the rise of digitalization, the sport has become increasingly prevalent in various forms of pop culture. For example, video game franchises, like AO Tennis and Top Spin, took tennis to the forefront of mainstream gaming. Furthermore, it is now also a highly attractive market in the sports betting industry. Interestingly lists the UK’s most popular tennis bookmakers, including 888sport and bet365, who offer sign-up bonuses across the sport’s four major tournaments. Additionally, many operators cover live betting, allowing prospective bettors to bet on matches featuring the Big Three.
There’s a widespread opinion, however, that to be successful in any professional sport, then participants need to have a degree of arrogance about them. In many ways, this is true, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to entertainment for the right reasons. In the past, Nick Kyrgios has been accused of arrogance while on the court. However, for all of the anti-hero's flaws, his highlight-reel shots have seen him become an entertainer. From his comical comments, interactions with spectators, and infamous underarm serve, few can argue that Kyrgios’ actions haven’t seen him become one of tennis’ most exciting players.
Act Respectfully, but Don’t Always Stick to a Traditional Style 
At a time where more eyes than ever before are on tennis, there’s an opportunity for the next generation of players to make their mark, particularly with the Big Three nearing the end of their careers. While practice is of utmost importance to any aspiring professional, allowing your personality to come across in your approach is also advisable. In turn, don’t always follow conventional strategies and try something different now and again.