Saturday, October 22, 2005
He doesn't yell when he makes a point; he rarely questions calls; and the only thing he hits with his racquet is the ball.
Who taught Ramsey Bern-ard how to play tennis anyway?
He is polite, well-mannered and friendly on and off the court. I mean, if he keeps playing this way, he is going to give tennis a bad name.
Or should I say a good name?
Last week at the Colorado high school tennis champ-ionships, Bernard kept his emotions in check, even when he lost to Cheyenne Mountain's Dan Colten in a back-and-fourth contest that might have determined the state champion.
There was no yelling, he didn't berate himself for missing a shot, and he even clapped his hand to his racquet when the opposing player made a nice shot -- and Colten made a lot of them.
Sure, Bernard had moments where he stopped and stared into space. He even put his hands on his head at one point. Occasionally his frustration was expressed with a hand gesture -- but not the one most people use when they are frustrated.
But these emotional outbursts, if you can call them that, were never loud enough for the other player to hear or long enough for others to notice.
Hasn't this kid ever heard of John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors? Does he think that this kind of behavior has a place in tennis?
Apparently it does, and thanks to the efforts of players such as Bernard and Colten --both players displayed incredible sportsmanship in their semifinal match -- it seems to be gaining momentum.
Less than 10 minutes after losing to Colten and knowing that his bid for a 2005 state title was over, Bernard didn't retreat to a dark corner where nobody could find him. Instead, he could be found courtside cheering for his teammates.
If Bernard, who won a state title at No. 3 singles last year, was disappointed, he didn't feel the need to advertise it.
To be fair, there were lots of types of players in Pueblo last week, and they dealt with the pressure of being on the court and the disappointment of losing differently.
In most cases, the behavior of players at the state tennis tournament was something that most parents would be proud of. There were a few rare examples of how not to act, but for the most part, tennis seems to have turned a new page -- at least at the high school level.
It seems as if sportsmanship is gaining momentum thanks to teams such as Steamboat and coaches such as John Aragon, who often puts the sportsmanship of his players before things like winning a match.
Sure, Aragon would like nothing better than to bring back a title to Steamboat Springs, but more important, he wants his players to be a shining example of what's good about tennis, Steamboat Springs and high school athletics.
But I can't help wondering whether he's heard of John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors.