25. One answer to why public interest in men's tennis has been on the wane in recent years is an essential and unpretty thuggishness about the power-baseline style that's become dominant on the tour. Watch Agassi closely sometime–for so small a man and so great a player, he's amazingly absent of finesse, with movements that look more like a heavy-metal musician's than an athlete's.
34. A whole other kind of vision–the kind attributed to Larry Bird in basketball, sometimes, when he's made those incredible surgical passes to people who nobody else could even see were open–is required when you're hitting: This involves seeing the other side of the court–where your opponent is and which direction he's moving in and what possible angles are open to you in consequence of where he's going. The schizoid thing about tennis is that you have to use both kinds of vision–ball and court–at the same time.
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The (NAIA) represents a smaller contingent of member schools than the NCAA—about 350 total institutions of higher education located within Canada and the U.S. The NAIA sponsors athletic divisions I, II, and III, which are generally comprised of schools outside the scope of NCAA Division I eligibility requirements. NAIA incorporates a marked emphasis on academics into its student athlete programs. About a dozen individual sports are supported by NAIA member institutions. Key tenets of the NAIA mission foster these principles for student athletes:
Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg are contemporary examples of the classic offensive style. Serve-and-volleyers are often tall  and tall Americans like Pete Sampras and Todd Martin and David Wheaton are also offensive players. Michael Chang is a pure exponent of the defensive tour's Western Europeans and South Americans, many of whom grew up exclusively on clay and now stick primarily to the overseas clay-court circuits. Americans Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein, and Jim Courier all play a power-baseline game. So does just about every new young male player on the tour. But its most famous and effective post Lendl avatar is Andre Agassi, who on 1995's hard-court circuit was simply kicking everyone's ass .
6. Except for the four in the Grand Slam–Wimbledon and the U.S., French, and Australian opens–no tournament draws all the top players, although every tournament would obviously like to, since the more top players are entered, the better the paid attendance and the more media exposure the tournament gets for itself and its sponsors. Players in the top twenty or so, though, tend to play a comparatively light schedule of tournaments, taking time off not only for rest and training but to compete in wildly lucrative exhibitions that don't affect ATP ranking. (We're talking wildly lucrative, like millions of dollars per annum for the top stars.) Given the sharp divergence of interests between tournaments and players, it's not surprising that there are Kafkanly complex rules for how many ATP tournaments a player must enter each year to avoid financial or ranking-related penalties, and commensurately complex and crafty ways players have for getting around these rules and doing pretty much what they want. These will be passed over. The thing to realize is that players of Michael Joyce's station tend to take way less time off; they play just about every tournament they can squeeze in and get to unless they're forced by injury or exhaustion to sit out a couple of weeks. This is because they need to, not just financially but because under the ATP's (very complex) set of algorithms for determining ranking, most players fare better the more tournaments they enter.
Even more illuminating than watching pro tennis live is watching it with Sam Aparicio. Watching tennis with him is like watching a movie with somebody who knows a lot about the technical aspects of film: He helps you see things you can't see alone. It turns out, for example, that there are whole geometric sublevels of strategy in a power-baseline game, all dictated by various PBers' strength and weaknesses. A PBer depends on being able to hit winners from the baseline. But, as Sam teaches me to see, Michael Chang can hit winners only at an acute angle from either corner. An "inside-out" player like Jim Courier, though, can hit winners only at obtuse angles from the center out. Hence, wily and well-coached players tend to play Chang "down the middle" and Courier "out wide." One of the things that make Agassi so good is that he's capable of hitting winners from anywhere on the court–he has no geometric restriction. Joyce, too, according to Sam, can hit a winner at any angle. He just doesn't do it quite as well as Agassi, or as often.
Michael Joyce in close-up, viewed eating supper or riding in a courtesy car, looks slighter and younger than he does on-court. Close-up, he looks his age, which to me is basically that of a fetus. Michael Joyce's interests outside tennis consist mostly of big-budget movies and genre novels of the commercial-paperback sort that one reads on airplanes. He has a tight and long-standing group of friends back home in L.A., but one senses that most of his personal connections have been made via tennis. He's dated some. It's impossible to tell whether he's a virgin. It seems staggering and impossible, but my sense is that he might be. Then again, I tend to idealize and distort him, I know, because of how I feel about what he can do on a tennis court. His most revealing sexual comment was made in the context of explaining the odd type of confidence that keeps him from freezing up in a match in front of large crowds or choking on a point when there's lots of money at stake . Joyce, who usually needs to pause about five beats to think before he answer a questions, thinks the confidence is partly a matter of temperament and partly a function of hard work and practice.
A child's world tends to be very small. If I'd been just a little bit better, an actual regional champion, I would have gotten to see that there were fourteen-year-olds in the United States playing a level of tennis unlike anything I knew about. My own game as a junior was a particular type of the classic defensive style, a strategy Martin Amis once described as "craven retrieval." I didn't hit the ball all that hard, but I rarely made unforced errors, and I was fast, and my general approach was simply to keep hitting the ball back to my opponent until my opponent fucked up and either made an unforced error or hit a ball so short and juicy that even I could hit a winner off it. It doesn't look like a very glorious or even interesting way to play, now that I see it here in bald retrospective print, but it was interesting to me, and you'd be surprised how effective it was (on the level at which I was competing, at least). At age twelve, a good competitive player will still generally miss after four or five balls (mostly because he'll get impatient or grandiose). At age sixteen, a good player will generally keep the ball in play for more like seven or eight shots before he misses. At the collegiate level, too, opponents were stronger than junior players but not markedly more consistent, and if I could keep a rally going to seven or eight shots, I could usually win the point on the other guy's mistake . I still play–not competitively, but seriously–and I should confess that deep down inside, I still consider myself an extremely good tennis player, very hard to beat. Before coming to Montreal to watch Michael Joyce, I'd seen professional tennis only on television, which, as has been noted, does not give the viewer a very accurate picture of how good pros are. I thus further confess that I arrived in Montreal with some dim unconscious expectation that these professionals–at least the obscure ones, the nonstars–wouldn't be all that much better than I. I don't mean to imply that I'm insane: I was ready to concede that age, a nasty ankle injury in 1988, and a penchant for nicotine (and worse) meant that I wouldn't be able to compete physically with a young unhurt professional, but on TV (while eating junk and smoking), I'd seen pros whacking balls at each other that didn't look to be moving substantially faster than the balls I'd hit. In other words, I arrived at my first professional tournament with the pathetic deluded pride that attends ignorance. And I have been brought up sharply. I do not play and never have played even the same game as these qualifiers.
This article is about Michael Joyce and the realities of the tour, not me. But since a big part of my experience of the Canadian Open and its players was one of sadness, it might be worthwhile to spend a little time letting you know where I'm coming from vis-à-vis these players. As a young person, I played competitive junior tennis, traveling to tournaments all over the Midwest, the region that the United States Tennis Association has in its East Coast wisdom designated to the "western" region. Most of my best friends were also tennis players, and on a regional level we were successful, and we thought of ourselves as extremely good players. Tennis and our proficiency at it were tremendously important to us–a serious junior gives up a lot of his time and freedom to develop his game  and it can very easily come to constitute a big part of his identity and self-worth. The other fourteen-year-old Midwest hotshots and I knew that our fishpond was somehow limited; we knew that there was a national level of play and that there were hotshots and champions at that level. But levels and plateaus beyond our own seemed abstract, somehow unreal –those of us who were the best in our region literally could not imagine players our own age who were substantially better than we.