Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Ryan Harrison Should Hang Out With Heather Watson

Ryan Harrison was his own worst enemy at times in his straight-sets loss to Marin Cilic today. This intrepid tennis writer thinks he has a plan for the hot-headed kid.

It occurred to me while I was watching Maria Sharapova take out Heather Watson in a fantastic battle on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, long after Ryan Harrison lost in a very disappointing performance against Marin Cilic: Wouldn't it be a good thing if Ryan Harrison went out for ice cream with Heather Watson?

Before you start thinking I've gone whacko on you, hear me out, as I get into match-making mode.

Throughout the ages men have always learned the finer points about how to behave like proper adults from women. Why should Ryan Harrison be any different? Clearly, the promising young Shreveport, La. native has a little too much Tabasco sauce in his bloodstream, and I think we can all agree on that fact. It was the hot topic around the grounds as play began today, and Mats Wilander and Martina Navratilova, who had the call for Tennis Channel were quick to call him on it, saying that having an "attitude" can be a good thing, but in Harrison's case he was simply taking it way too far.

Oh, Harrison took it far alright. So far that he sabotaged his chances of making his first round match with Marin Cilic competitive by doing so. It could have been a thriller. It should have been a tense dramatic affair. But because of Harrison's penchant for getting his knickers in a twist, it was a dud.

Which is why I'm recommending that Harrison have some ice cream with Heather Watson. Perhaps they could walk a while together and discuss the finer points of keeping your cool under pressure during a match, and behaving like a lady or a gentleman, regardless of the final outcome of a tennis match. I think Watson could talk some sense into the young American, and they both might have some fun too.

They have the same agent by the way (just saying).

Watson was in a similar situation to Harrison's today, but her demeanor was a hundred times better. Watson too, was facing a more experienced, more proven player in a hotly contested match, but when things started to fall apart for the 19-year-old, she took a deep breath, looked inward, and calmly went back to her business.

Much like Harrison, who was getting pushed around in almost every rally by the more powerful Cilic today, Watson was up against a powerful shrieking devil of a foe, but not once did she resort to berating herself, kicking tennis balls or throwing her racquet.

What Watson did was keep battling like a player who loves to compete and is willing to put her thinking cap on and try to find solutions when things aren't going her way. What Harrison did was berate himself and fly off the handle during crucial points of his match, and it hurt his chances badly. What Watson showed us is that she's a player worthy of our respect. What Harrison showed us is that he's a player that has yet to grow up.

When Harrison left the court today, it was hard not to wonder if he's headed down the same road as Andy Roddick in terms of his behavior. Will he ever cure himself of the annoying capacity to act out during matches? Will these tantrums still be hounding the 19-year-old 10 years from now, the way that Roddick's angst saps him as he approaches his 29th birthday?

There's no doubt that Harrison is a player on the rise. The sky is the limit in terms of how high he can go in the rankings. He's not blessed with enormous power like some of the giants on tour today, but his tennis IQ is high, and his game is varied, intuitive and crafty. His serve is dynamite too. But that temper, oh, that dreaded temper.

Meanwhile, Watson may not be the most daunting specimen on the WTA tour, but at the age of 19, she was a picture of calm repose today. Even with the constant pressure that Maria Sharapova was putting on her, she never let her mind wander.

She received a huge hearty applause when leaving the court today, and signed a bunch of autographs with a smile for the fans she had won over. When Harrison left the court, there were only crickets.

I know it sounds crazy, but I think ice cream with Heather Watson could be the answer right now for Ryan Harrison. They could even catch a movie or go to a play. They can do whatever they want, just as long as there's time for Heather to do what so many good women have done for so many confused men over the years.

Harrison hears about his temper over and over but it never seems to sink in. Maybe Watson could be the difference. Sometimes all a man needs is a good woman to tell him how to behave.

I speak from experience on that.


  1. It's funny, John McEnroe was criticized for his temper, but he managed to win the majority of his matches. So to a certain degree, his temper was tolerated. When a player like Harrison loses his temper and then loses the match, he gets more heat for it than if he had won. I'd say that is true for most players.

    Federer admittedly had a bit of a temper when he was a teenager, but found ways to channel his anger as he got older. I'd give Harrison a few years to get his head together. Spending some time with Heather couldn't hurt...

  2. McEnroe is always given credit for using his temper for positive results. But did it really help him? The guy was a genius so I think he was pretty much going to beat everybody anyway.

    I am the hugest McEnroe fan but during his tantrums at times I would ask myself why? I do the same thing with A-Rod. I'm still a little mad at him that he headhunted on Robin Haase at least year's AO and nobody ever talked about it because Haase was able to duck the ball.

    Thanks for stopping by, Paula


Leave your two cents here!