Tuesday, 15 January 2008

fifteen, love

In another life, I'd be the person who makes the TV musical pastiches at the end of tennis tournaments.

It's the Aussie Open down here right now, and prior to that we had a lesser tournament in Auckland. At the end of each day's play there's a minute or two of shots patched together from the best bits of the matches, accompanied by peppy music. The video is timed such that you see the player smash the ball right on the beat of the music. It's very uplifting.

The ruler of all tennis match musical pastiches is, of course, Wimbledon. Not only do they have daily pastiches, but at the end of week one and then at the end of the whole tournament, they have an uber-pastiche of all the pastiches. There is a subtlety and craft in the Wimbledon pastiches that you simply don't see in the lesser versions down here.

After the Smashing The Ball Pastiche, there is usually one for the loser of the final, patching together their best shots (usually quite good in the men's tournament, though the women's final is always so mismatched that they have a hard time finding good shots from the loser). There is always, always a Rain Pastiche, showing players disappearing into the locker rooms, the umpires and officials looking up at the sky and looking at their watches, spectators wearing stupid hats shaped like umbrellas, and groundskeepers running across the court towing the big green covers, always with one person who trips and falls underneath the cover. Then there is a Didn't We Do Badly Pastiche, where they scrape together the best bits of the British players who all got knocked out in the first round.

There's a Losers' Pastiche In General, showing crummy shots follwed by players throwing their racquets, questioning the umpire, or slumping in their chairs looking depressed with how much they suck. If the tournament has a "character", they warrant their own pastiche - when Goran Ivanisevic was playing, he was good for one practically every day. The doubles tournament is good for a pastiche or two - in fact the pastiche is usually the only time you get to see any of the wheelchair doubles; and the "invitation" doubles are usually good for Henri Laconte doing something outrageous (by tennis standards). This segues nicely into the Comedy Pastiche, which is all the best of pigeons on the court; hilarious at-the-net rallies from the seniors' doubles that go on for a hundred shots with both puffing and grunting and falling to their knees to indicate their unfitness; groups of spectators with "Marry Me Roger Federer" t-shirts; pigeons on the court; someone accidentally bonking a ball girl on the head with a wayward shot and then kissing her and making her day; a shot of the commentators in their booth eating cake; er, and pigeons on the court.

The skill and craft of the Wimbledon Pastiche outshines the skill and craft of the tennis. The Wimbledon Pastiche-makers study at a special pasticherie in the South of France, to create the lightest and most delicate pastiches that nail the feel of the day for those who can't be there to experience it themselves. The graduating final is to create a pastiche match that splices together a current player with someone from the game's past to make it look as if they're playing each other: Sampras vs. Ferreiro; Venus Williams vs. Pam Shriver. The pasticherie's class valedictorian last year was the one who pastiched Navratilova c. 1992 playing Navratilova c. 1982.

Incidentally, police at the Aussie Open yesterday ended up pepper-spraying some spectators whose chanting became "out of control". Tennis hooligans?? That's as likely as knitting hooligans. What is the world coming to?

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