Ryan Harrison, John McEnroe, temper tantrums and the sad state of American tennis

It appears we have a new blowtorch in American men’s tennis.  This time around, he’s sans afro and headband.

Hey, whatever gets us to watch, right?

It’s been a long time since American men’s tennis fans have had anything to cheer about.  We fondly reminisce over when our talent was actually relevant, yet only one man not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic has won a major tournament in the last twenty-six tries.  That was Juan Martin Del Potro, who won the US Open in 2009.

The drought has been even longer for American men.  Andy Roddick won the only major of his career, the US Open in 2003.  Since then, we’ve been waiting impatiently, and rather fruitlessly, for Roddick’s return to greatness.  The 2009 Wimbledon final was as close as he got, where he lost to, none other than, Roger Federer.

American men’s tennis has been so boring lately, it’s no wonder Ryan Harrison has been losing his temper.

For over a decade, from Michael Chang’s French Open victory in 1989 to Andre Agassi’s Australian Open title in 2001, American men dominated tennis.  Pete Sampras won fourteen majors during that time.  Agassi won eight.  Not to be forgotten, Jim Courier won four.

Then of course, there was John McEnroe.  Johnny Mac won seven majors from the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s and became as renowned for his tantrums as for his championship trophies.  The new generation loved him; the older generation resented him.

The difference is Mac won.  Ryan Harrison, and his comparable temper, has yet to come close.  In this year’s U.S. Open, the unseeded Harrison lost in straight sets to 27th ranked Marin Cilic, throwing his racket several times in the process, and leaving us once again clinging to the hopes of Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and James Blake.  In other words, why watch?

For years now, we’ve been thirsting for the chance to anoint our next American hero, especially since Federer’s reign is on the decline.  But Nadal is 25, Djokovic is 24 and our next hero is still nowhere in sight.

Harrison, 19, is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and like all men’s tennis players of note, was trained at the Bollettieri Academy.  (How long has it been since you’re heard that name?)  Harrison is currently ranked 66th in the world, but climbing those next sixty-five spots will be the most difficult thing he’ll ever have to do.  Plenty of rackets will be shattered in the process.

Harrison’s temper tantrums will catch our eye and on an opening Monday at Flushing Meadows, he probably gave folks a hearty chuckle.  With Harrison’s demeanor, comparisons to McEnroe are inevitable.  Just like with Mac, some fans will find it entertaining and others will find it immature.  But as long as Harrison gets bounced in the tournaments that matter, the comparisons will end there.

And still we will wait for our next grand champion.

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30 Replies to “Ryan Harrison, John McEnroe, temper tantrums and the sad state of American tennis”

  1. Pingback: Ryan Harrison, John McEnroe, temper tantrums and the sad state of American tennis, Tennis | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Chris

    The day another US male becomes relevant at the top tier of men’s tennis may well be the reason why I’ll become might take more of an interest in the game ! Everyone now seems to be on the Djokovic bandwagon but as impressive as his season has been it’s nowhere amongst the best to be had by any male player over the last decade plus . See the accomplishments of Wilander , Federer in winning three majors in a season .

    Never mind the fact that on the PGA Tour the world rankings is now littered with none US males at the upper tier of the game . And three of the four majors on the Tour were won by foreigners .

    tophatal ………….

  3. Can we seriously have a legitimate US men’s contender for any of the Majors ? Roddick now spends more time using last part of his surname pleasing his wife Brooklyn Decker (SI Swimsuit model) than he does in showing his prowess on the tennis court . James Blake , Mardy Fish and and the rest of the men on the domestic scene have and show about as physical ability for the game as Chaz Bono has for making a play at a female .

    Let’s get real the days when the US ruled the roost is long gone . And when the only real interest shown is they’ll do in the Davis Cup … is there really a need to deal with this at all .

    It’s bad enough that now you have Paul Azinger proving what a tool he is in his criticism of Obama , bearing in mind the guy has spent less time than his two previous predecessors during in their first terms in office spending it on vacation. Never mind the fact he’s become an odious bore and an a$$ as it relates to the US players on the PGA Tour .

    tophatal ………..

  4. I heard about his temper tantrums, but never really saw him play. I was hoping Isner was the American answer, but he hasn’t panned out so far. Maybe this Harrison kid will get us excited about tennis again, but I have my doubts…

  5. Pingback: Sports Chump » Ryan Harrison, John McEnroe, temper tantrums … « Tennis Community

  6. Al…

    I think men’s tennis is now comparable to boxing’s heavyweight division.

    Where are all these athletes?

    These are sports Americans used to dominate or at least have some relevance in.

    Who’s the highest ranked American men’s tennis player in the world? Roddick still? And who’s our number one contender.


  7. I didn’t hear Azinger’s comments on Obama, Al. If you find a link, post it here, will ya’.

    I’d also be interested in reading anything you find on why we’ve seen such a dramatic decline in competent men’s tennis players.

  8. Chap…

    It’ll be a long time before we get excited about anyone like Mac again.

    Those clips are vintage, man.

    What a freak!


  9. Never heard of him until this week. Not a bad rant but nobody did it like Johnny Mac (not even Connors or Nastase)!

  10. McEnroe got angry for completely different reasons though. I bet if McEnroe was around in this day in age he wouldn’t be getting so angry because there are challenges now. McEnroe was frustrated with umpiring but Harrison is always frustrated with his case of right arm shittiness. It’s sad that the Men are still relying on oldies Fish and Roddick for all their hopes and the women are still relying on the Williams sisters. You would think someone is bound to come up sometime but the question is obviously when?

  11. Yeah, Drew.

    Connors was tennis’ bad boy (hard to imagine with that bowl cut… which he’s still rocking, by the way) until Johnny Mac came around. Then Connors’ tirades became and afterthought.

    And speaking of hairdos that never change, Eckersley is STILL rocking that Journey mullet.

    Things that make you go hmmmmmm.

  12. I don’t know if I entirely agree with you, CR.

    Mac was born with that short temper. That’s just who he was. He’d probably smash his racket over that electronic eye if one of his calls didn’t come back reversed. In fact, I bet you he still throws a hissy fit if a waiter delivers his steak over-cooked.

    As he should, he’s Johnny Mac.

    But you bring up an interesting point. When the Williams sisters retire, which might be coming up pretty soon, then what?

  13. Chris

    Hence one of the reasons I no longer have the time to follow boxing . I’d rather watch the Animal Planet view the mating rituals of the hump back whale !

    When a former athlete steps out of their comfort zone and starts to talk bu__hit , it’s time to mute the button on the tv set . Paul Azinger ought to take a lesson from Fuzzy Zoeller ……… ” what no grits and barbeque chicken ” …… on his (Azinger’s) agenda ” ?

    Though it’s not quite as venal as Glenn Beck’s take after the atrocity that took place in Norway it does beg the question are people that f_##ing dumb ? Now he’s ( Beck) saying that Hurricane Irene should be seen as a blessing from God ? F##k him and the horse he rode in on !

    ESPN rebukes Azinger for mocking Obama

    tophatal ….

  14. Tennis? When I was growing up in the early 1900’s Ivan Putski would backhand you if you mentioned the word “10S”. How times have changed. Chris do you really think the Russian Dogopolov was throwing matches?

    I’d prefer to talk about the AL Manager of the Year. Yeah, that’s right the guy in your backyard Maddon. A little September push by the Rays and he’s the chalk.

  15. Chris

    Long before McEnroe was throwin’ tantrums like a bitch there was the Romanian player Ilie Nastase . Need I say anymore on the matter ? Nastase was the “modern day template “ for that type of behavior .

    tophatal ……………

  16. List of US male players thought to be taking the next step up … Isner ( his claim to fame longest Grand Slam tennis match in history … not much else ) , Mardy Fish (ranked in the top 25) though still stumbles around like a drunken sailor on furlough . Andy Roddick ………. see Brooklyn Decker for the answer . James Blake ……….. looks like Tarzan …. plays like Jane ! Donald Young the US men’s answer to Tiger Woods but without the sexual trysts or intrigue as of yet . There’s hope that’ll change . But the USTA lives in hope .

    tophatal …………

  17. Pingback: Sports Chump » Ryan Harrison, John McEnroe, temper tantrums …

  18. Yeah but our young phenoms are GREAT(!!!!!) at video games! We rule the world, baby! We’re incomparable! The greatest wrist action you’ll ever see!

    Now… How many five foot wide doors do you want to order?

  19. tophatal said,”James Blake , Mardy Fish and and the rest of the men on the domestic scene have and show about as physical ability for the game as Chaz Bono has for making a play at a female.”
    Not bad.lmao! Wait until you see Chaz and America’s Sweetheart Nancy Grace on the upcoming “Dancing with the Stars.”

  20. Ronbets

    Nancy Grace while she has her litany of supporters out there . Let’s just say I’m not one of them ! She may well have been a DA at one time but not she lets her emotions get the way better of her in some of the most innocuous stories .

    James Blake won yesterday ………. oh wow ! But the thing is he only made it to second round of the US Open . Let’s see if he can make it to the quarter finals at least before we jump for joy.

    Chris & Ronbets

    The latest invention for the female techie who wants to really feel empowered . See link provided . Let’s just say that’s the long lasting memory she’ll always crave ?

    tophatal ………………..

  21. RB…

    I wouldn’t say Maddon’s a shoo-in but he’s certainly in the running. His team probably won’t make the playoffs so that’ll hurt him.

    Plus his team is too inconsistent.

    I’m not sure whether the franchise is hoping he wins that award or not. It’ll be another notch in his belt come contract time and someone with deeper pockets might make a run at him.

  22. Yeah, Al.

    According to that list of American men tennis players, I don’t see any one of them making a splash this year.

    Not with the big three still in the mix.

    Let’s hope I’m pleasantly surprised.

  23. Dwin’s blaming video games on our current lack of great athletes?


    Ladies and gentlemen, per Dwin, please get your children out from in front of the TV and have them go outside and play some ball.

  24. No odds yet. Maybe trying to find willing pro’s to partner-up with the above mentioned misfits. As soon as available will post.

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