I just finished the challenger in Busan. I had a relatively good week, after a few weeks of injury and disappointing comeback tournaments. I made quarters, won some good matches but more importantly, I found my game and my rhythm. I have to say I was a wee bit worried after my last two tournaments, where I was all over the place, but difficult conditions definitely played its part.
There were more exciting things happening at the tournament, though. We were so lucky to experience the world’s fastest serve, ever being recorded – a pretty significant and impressive accomplishment. It was served by big Aussie, Sam Groth, who clocked and ace down the ”T” in the first court – at blistering 263 km/h!
Sam is no stranger to big serving, as he has had fast serves recorded previously in his career, and most of the tour know of his serve. I almost had my manhood compromised on a body serve in doubles last week! Thank God for my racket and jedi-like reflexes…
The interesting thing for me, is how this is welcomed around the world. Just to clarify, the measuring equipment used is ITF approved and used in other events. Still I see people trying to discredit the achievement. One prominent tennis writer saying he didn’t accept it as ”it wasn’t done at an ATP-event”. What – are the balls faster at challengers? Is it only a fast serve if Roger or Rafa returns it? Or is it only a big deal if a big name like Roddick does it? I remember some years back, Ilja Bozoljac of Serbia served one of the fastest serves at the time in Davis Cup, but no deal was made of that.
I’m happy ATP at least writes about it on their webpage, but I wish they would make a better effort out of selling this thing. It could be great for the lower level tournaments. I’m in Korea this week for a future, and so is Sam. The world’s fastest serve is playing a future event! How cool is that for the futures tour? It could help people understand, that there is some pretty interesting players and things happening outside the ATP Tour circuit.
The world of tennis actually has some pretty big servers outside the ATP tour. Everyone knows that a big serve certainly helps you out, so these guys are maybe the guys outside the top 250 that have the best chance of beating a top player. Ever heard of Albano Olivetti of France? He played the future in Karlskrona last week. I bet not many had heard about him when he beat top 10 player Mardy Fish, in Marseille this year. To many a big surprise. For me too, of course, but having played him, I was aware that he was born with a bazooka on his shoulders. He actually served a serve last summer, that would’ve been the fastest, had it not hit clipped the net. In the same tournament I played him in doubles on a very cloudy and dark day, that made it difficult to see the ball. That was the only time I have been worried when returning a serve.
Obviously players with this kind of serves, who are not better ranked, have some flaws elsewhere in their games. But the days when it comes together for them – uh mama, be ready!
Now I’m focusing on the serve, because Sam just beat the world record, but there are so many interesting players out there in the world. There has been talk of the game losing personalities compared to a few decades ago, but there are still great characters in the game. Just because you don’t see them on TV it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Especially in tennis, the gap from minor level to the top is so little. One day a player is playing a future in front of a coach, a girlfriend and an official. The next day he qualifies for a Grand Slam and with a lucky draw he gets to play on Center Court against Roger. So when I think like this, it happens I wish the ATP and tennis community would embrace it, in order to put futures and challengers on the tennis map.
You never know when Sam Groth makes it big.