When I met the 1977 US Open champ and British tennis great Virginia Wade, I didn't ask her about her box at Wimbledon that was being auctioned tonight to raise money for CityParks Foundation. I asked her about Tennis Hate.
Does she have any tips to keep it from creeping all over my psyche like English ivy at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club?
"One word?" she asked.
"Sure, if that's all it takes," I said.
"Why are you supposed to be perfect?" she said.
"Okay, that's seven, but I'll write it like this to make you consistent, Miss Wade: Whyareyousupposedtobeperfect?
"You're only human, you're allowed to make mistakes," she said, and then quickly moved on to other guests at the event. Maybe it was my quizzical look when she told me I was human.
John McConnell, the former senior programming exective at ABC Radio Networks, hung in there with me a bit longer. McConnell loves the game, went to Pepperdine on a tennis scholarship. I asked him about his most memorable meltdown.
"I remember when the No. 1 junior in the world threw his racquet over the fence and into my court, just missing me, at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. I picked up his racquet and tossed it into the swimming pool," McConnell said.
Okay, Mr. McConnell, that was someone else's Tennis Hate meltdown that you just described. However, it did include two -- two! -- instances of racquet abuse, so I'll take it.
He probably wouldn't call it Tennis Hate, but McConnell suffered from something approximating it in his years playing college tennis. "I once was up in a match, 6-1, 5-0, and I lost it," he said. "I will never forget how bad I felt."