A Sportsman’s Mulligan

ON THE TUNNEYSIDE OF SPORTS February 9, 2015 # 527 Up next…A Sportsman’s Mulligan!

After further review…February is an exciting month on the Monterey (CA.) Peninsula. The PGA tour departed from the Hawaiian Islands, blew through the Arizona desert, paused in La Jolla (CA.) and now arrives in Pebble Beach as the AT&T Pro-Am gets underway. National attention to golf will intensify. This is always the time of year when beloved golf films like “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “Tin Cup” come off the shelf. So this story is about a mulligan – a word not in a professional golfer’s vocabulary.

 A mulligan is defined by some as a “do over” as in a golfer who hits a shot that he/she doesn’t like, and drops another ball to do it over. In tournament golf, mulligans are taboo! But among weekend warriors hacking their way through a Saturday morning round they’re plentiful.

A mulligan was allowed recently in the game of tennis. Again, for those who play a friendly game of tennis each morning and a faulty serve occurs, a do-over is often acceptable.  Ironically, it is allowed in professional tennis as well, although it almost never happens, except…

The 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne won by Novak Djokovic (his fifth) over Andy Murray in five sets. But the real story in this event belongs to Tim Smyczek. Who? Tim Smyczek (he needs to buy a couple vowels from Vanna White, but saying“Smee-Ckeck” gets his attention) is from Hales Corner, Wisconsin – not a hotbed of tennis.

Smyczek, 27, a certified tennis professional, is currently ranked 103rd  in the world by ATP.  At that ranking he must qualify to get into the main draw of this tournament, which he did. He battled through an early round to set up a second-round match with Rafael Nadal, currently ranked third. The match looked like (yawn!) an easy win for Nadal. But, Smyczek took the match to a tie after four sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(2), 6-3.

In the fifth set, Nadal was leading 6-5, serving at 30-love and about to rock his lefty service motion.  As he made his toss some yo-yo in the stands loudly shouted something indiscernible. It startled Nadal whose serve was long.  Nadal’s tough luck? Not to Smyczek, who approached the chair umpire and offered Nadal a mulligan based on the fan’s disruption. Able to repeat his first serve, Nadal went on the win the point, the game, the set (7-5) and the match. Smyczek said afterward, “It was just the right thing to do”.

Will you consider Smyczek’s sportsmanship in whatever you do?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email jim@jimtunney.com.

The Monterey Herald has advertised a special offer–three books that I authored:              Impartial Judgment; It’s the Will, Not the Skill; and 101 Best of TunneySide of Sports as a package – all three ($60.) for just $40. Please use the email address for your order and include names for which you wished them autographed.


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