Most of you are familiar with the American tradition that began when President Harry S. Truman officially pardoned a turkey sent to him by a poultry and egg board for Thanksgiving. The charming gesture caught on, and now the presidential pardon is an annual ritual that brings a smile to the face of everyone -- especially said turkey.
I’m not as tolerant as your typical U.S. President, and only slightly more powerful. So I’m not cutting any of the ATP or WTA pros a break this Thanksgiving. You all know the pejorative meaning of the word “turkey,” so hand out some turkey awards to the real boneheads who said or did something really stupid in 2013:
David Ferrer: When you hold your hand up to stop an ongoing match point (in your favor) to question a non-call against your opponent in a Masters 1000 final, you had better make danged sure you’re right. Ferrer wasn’t. As a result, Andy Murray went on to beat him for the Miami title, and Ferrer remains stuck with just one Masters 1000 title to show for all those years of grinding.
Gael Monfils: “La Monf” had a set in hand but he was down a break in the second to Tommy Haas when he pulled off a trick shot that had the crowd gasping -- and laughing. Allowing a high lob to bounce between his legs, Monfils then did a 360-degree spin before he nailed the smash. Haas won the point, and ultimately the match, but it was a silly, and to some extent disrespectful, stunt. Light-hearted is fine, but it’s never a good idea to compromise the integrity of the competition.
The Anchorage, Alaska Assembly: For the third time in recent Assembly meetings, the governing body for the city of Anchorage refused to vote on whether to spend $4 million on tennis courts. What could be more important than tennis courts for Alaska?
John Tomic: I suppose I ought to watch myself, lest John hunt me down and head butt me the way he allegedly did his son Bernard’s former hitting partner, Thomas Drouet. But I have to say: John Tomic is rewriting the book on whacko tennis parents, and perhaps contributing to the ruination of his son’s reputation, if not his career, in the process.
Milos Raonic: The easygoing young Canadian is a nice kid, but he still owes Juan Martin del Potro an apology. Make that two apologies. During their match in Montreal this past summer, Raonic took an 11-minute injury timeout just three games in to take treatment on his shoulder. (Hello? Pre-existing condition, anyone?) Then, on a critical point, he inadvertently slid into the bottom of the net. But Raonic wouldn’t make the interference call against himself. Disgusted, Delpo faded and Raonic won in short order.
Victoria Azarenka: Shortly after squandering five match points while serving for the match against Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open quarterfinals, Azarenka left the court for a 10-minute medical timeout to deal with what later was called a “locked rib.” You have to wonder if the break wasn’t intended to loosen up her throat, or elbow, instead.
Sabine Lisicki: Somebody forgot to tell the young lady dubbed “the Laughing Girls from Germany” that you need to keep it light when you’re losing, too. Sure, we all sympathized with the 23-year-old whose dream Wimbledon turned into a nightmare of choking and paralysis against Marion Bartoli in the final. But coming totally unglued and crying on court just isn’t very professional -- or fun to watch.
The WTA: The organization looked the other way when the promoters of Linz did some unethical, if not necessarily illegal, maneuvering to get WTA star and local attraction Angelique Kerber a last-minute wild card into the tournament. She ended up winning it, displacing Caroline Wozniacki as the final qualifier for the elite, eight-woman WTA Championships.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova: This probably is the only time you will see both women mentioned in the same breath and treated as co-conspirators. But the bottom line is that both of them ought to have known better than to get into that nasty little cat fight over boyfriends and other things last June.
Martina Hingis: Shortly after being inducted into the International Hall of Fame, the former No. 1 and five-time Grand Slam singles champion Hingis announced that she’s making another comeback. Granted, it was just in doubles (she is, after all, 33), but even that didn’t work out so well. Hingis and current tour pro Daniela Hantuchova were 3-5 and (thankfully) pulled the plug after their first-round loss at the US Open. Yes, Martina, you’re still good. But not that good.