4/15/12

Kramerian Game

                    
     Refinement of the Isner Scoring Method(ISM) is a continuous deliberation of incremental improvements over time.  Time, as we know it, has no end.  Therefore, this scoring method will be subjected to the American developed and Japanese implemented theory of Kaizen which is founded upon the principle of improvements implemented in a continuous cycle ad infinitum.  It is with this intent that two changes were made to the scoring method that significantly impacts isner tennis culture.
     First, the definition of a mahut has changed from 10 games to 15 games.  The benefits of this improvement are:  (1) increased physical exercise.  (2) quicker Isner matches.  (3) rewards stamina.  (4) elimination of mahut ties.  The change has also led to the increased importance of the pre-mahut racquet spin.  No longer is it an indifferent net gathering ceremony prior to play just to get started.  Going forward, its result will determine who serves 8 games and who serves 7.  This significant advantage, especially over time, can have an impact on PCR.  Keck has recently been seen practicing the toss and spin and volunteers at a higher rate since the inception of the 15 game mahut.  Perhaps this task should be rotated and standards set.  Another advantage of this change is the ability to break down each mahut in thirds to reflect, motivate, and strategize.  Going 4-1 in the final third of a mahut can make a 5-10 loser go home enthused and eager to play the next mahut.  The dejection of the opposite scenario is just as impactful.  Up 7-3, imagine the mindset of a player who goes on to lose every game of the final third of a mahut.  Not only loses the final 5 games, but loses the mahut itself 7-8.  The overall impact of the 15 game mahut format is profound.  The word corpse is now used to describe a mahut skunk, although the term moulette, formerly used to describe a 10 game mahut skunk, is still used within the context of the first 10 games (or two thirds) of a mahut.  To date, Keck has scored 3 moulettes, one against J. Vita and two against me, the most recent during a 15 game mahut that was close to the first ever corpse until I broke serve to make it 1-13.  Only two mahuts removed from my second ever mahut win against the man and I was fighting off a corpse.  Keck's recent dominate play has been greatly impacted by two things:  (1) drills and practice sessions with a certified coach, B. Vita. (2)  integration of wood racquets--vintage tennis.
     The next change in the scoring method involves the decleration that the first and seventh mahut of an isner match be played using a wooden racquet.  Modern grips are acceptable, but tension absorbers are not allowed.  The benefits of this improvement, known as vintage, are:  (1) the actual game of tennis is being played.  (2) promotes a focus on swing form and proper pace.  (3) reminds us all of a great American and 1947 Wimbledon singles champion, Jack Kramer.  As executive director and founder of ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals), the retired Kramer also led a principled and heroic boycott of Wimbledon in 1973 for the banning of Croatian player Nikola Pilic from the tournament.  Pilic had refused to play Davis Cup for his native land and was banned from international play.  The American Kramer could not support this draconian state-issued madate in the game of tennis.  That year Czech Jan Kordes defeated Russian Alex Metreveli for the tainted Wimbledon title. 
     Jack Kramer and and his game were described in the free encyclopedia this way:

     Tall and slim, he was the first world-class player to play "the Big Game", a consistent serve-and-volley game, in which he came to the net behind all of his serves, including the second serve.  He was particularly known for his powerful serve and forehand, as well as his ability to play "percentage tennis", which he learned from Cliff Roche, a retired Railroad Engineer, at the Los Angeles Tennis Club.  This strategy maximized his efforts on certain points and in certain games during the course of a match to increase his chances of winning. The key was to hold serve at all costs.

     Who would want Jack Kramer serving on the other end of the court, tied 7-7 in the final game of a mahut?  Inspired by my unpaid for Jack Kramer wooden racquet, the same kind I had played with in my youth, I had put Keck in position he's never been in during the inception of isner scoring methodology. By losing the first mahut of our 7th isner match 7-8 (and the first ever vintage mahut), Keck had the opportunity to understand the mind of a player down in an isner match.  The week of restlessness, the constant air swings, the drawing board.  Keck's response to this challenge was quick and resounding.  A customary 10-5 mahut win the following week and the 14-1 near-corpsing partially described earlier.  Again, the extra focus and coaching was important, but the more deliberate swings required for the vintage racquets has sharpened Keck's forehand considerably and will eventually lead to the same improvement on the backhand.  After witnessing the 1-14 mahut, B. Vita offered me some advice, "You got to slow it down. Get a bigger loop going on your swing. You can beat him, Keck makes mistakes."  I wasn't so sure and I questioned the coach's intentions, knowing that we had just entered into our first isner match, one in which he had won the first mahut 9-6.  Vintage racquets, of course.  Keck was now the least of my insner problems.  My game was in shambles and I was behind in both my isner matches.  Vita tennis players were notorious mind gamers.  Joe with his memory, Bill with his reasons, Nick with his possum playing.  Heard this song, cowboy quarterback opinions, tennis apparel and equipment, east texas days, dollars and cents, prayers too, line calls, string tension, nascar, dirk, smoking habits, smartphone nuances, new york and philly stories, and just about anything to keep you off your game during a changeover.  Due to this, and knowing our inser match would continue to 70, I was initially leery of his advice.  Upon reflection, my pace of play has accelerated greatly and should be tempered.  The looping swings seem like spitting in the wind against Keck's current precision and an adoption of a more Kramerian game seems more worthy of execution.  Never had a coach and it's too late for one now.
     Taken as incremental changes, the evolution of the mahut and the integration of vintage, were easily accomplished.  Two rule changes that have led to the improvement of the tennis experience.  If we are to play this game, if we are to devote a portion of our finite time on earth to the art of playing the game of tennis, we must continue our pursuit of constant improvement and change.