Spare a thought for Christina McHale. The 19-year-old from New Jersey held a 5-0 lead in the third-set of her 1st round match against Italy’s Sara Errani at Roland Garros on Monday. What should have been McHale’s second career Grand Slam match victory turned into a 9-7 collapse in defeat. That’s rough. Choking is an athlete’s worst nightmare. Physically you were up to the challenge, but mentally you were Novotna. It’s a hollow, lonely feeling that forces players to question their resolve; to wonder whether they might fold again if presented with a similar scenario; and, worst of all, to seek safety in the lazy pearls of wisdom of those who suffered the same fate before them. Yes, when athletes and announcers have nowhere else to turn, they can always find shelter in the tired sports cliché.
After the match McHale let loose this gold-standard: “It feels awful now, but hopefully in a couple of days I’ll be able to take something from this so it won’t happen again.”
No you won’t. That’s nothing more than cold comfort. In a couple of days McHale will still be wondering why it’s Errani, not her, in the 2nd round trying to figure out why Daniela Hantuchova still bothers.
Here are some other worn-out proverbs that take up real estate in the tennis vernacular:
I don’t look ahead. I’m taking it one match at a time. Is there really an option? Because multitasking a few matches at once would be impressive.
My opponent didn’t beat me. I beat myself. Now forever known as: The Williams Defense.
We both played so well, it’s a pity that someone had to lose. A tried-and-true for Roger Federer when consoling Andy Roddick. Unfortunately for Fed, he’s starting to learn how the other half feels.
It’s the good players that can win when they don’t play their best. Or the lucky ones.
I just need to go out there and play my game. Not you, Berdych. Perhaps it’s time you aspire to greater things.
The guy has an unbelievable work ethic. A little perspective, please. It’s not as though these people are mining coal.
You can’t say enough about the effort he gave today. And by uttering this phrase it means you’re not even going to try.
She’s been here before. She knows how to win in this situation. Just a more complimentary way of saying she’s less likely to gag than her opponent.
Watch out for this girl, she has a tremendous upside. Which from an endorsement standpoint is only slightly more desirable than a tremendous backside.
It was anybody’s match. The difference was he played better on the big points. Serves you right for caring so much about those pesky meaningless points.
Not my finest match, but I did what I had to do to win. Translation: I was every bit as bored playing my opponent as the fans were watching it.
Americans always struggle on clay. Which clearly contradicts another favorite chestnut: Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.