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更新时间:2006/8/29
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Tennis, Anyone?
网球网罗你的心

Turn the TV on to one of the cable sports channels anytime and there's a pretty good chance you'll see two or four powerfully built young people grunting and yelling as they smash a rubber ball across a net. Such is the modern style of tennis, once the genteel afternoon pastime of the idle rich.

Lawn tennis, to give the sport its full title, developed from real tennis, an indoor game that dates back to twelfth or thirteenth-century France, when balls were hit with the palm of the hand. Rackets weren't developed until the sixteenth century, when the game became popular among aristocrats and was played in a walled court.

The game's French origins also account for some of its unique terminology. "Love," for instance, representing a zero score, is thought to have derived from l'oeuf, which is French for "egg," while "deuce," similar to the French word for "two," refers to the situation in which two consecutive points are required to win a game.

Nowadays, tennis has evolved into a highly charged, tense encounter between dedicated professionals who more than likely acquired their hunger for success at a very tender age. The degree of commitment required to reach the heights is matched only by the tremendous financial rewards to those who make it into the top rankings.

Asked to name the top male player of recent years, most tennis fans would agree there is only one candidate. With the number of Grand Slam titles to his name at twelve and counting, Pete Sampras has more or less dominated the sport for the better part of a decade.

The son of Greek immigrants, Pete Sampras's first contact with tennis was hitting balls against the basement wall of his family home in Washington, D.C. After the family moved to sunny California when Sampras was seven, it became apparent that he was a tennis prodigy. His professional career began in 1988 when he was just sixteen, and within two years he had reached the top ten rankings and become the youngest winner of the U.S. Open ever.

The 1993 to '94 season was when Sampras acquired the nickname "Pistol Pete" after slamming down a thousand aces on his way to three Grand Slam titles in a row. Since then, his only setbacks have been the death of his coach and mentor Tim Gullikson and his continuing inability to come to grips with playing on clay. The French Open championship on the clay courts of Roland Garros is still the only Grand Slam title to have stayed beyond his grasp.

Whether or not Pistol Pete manages to break the clay court jinx in the twilight years of his playing career, one thing is certain: When he does finally decide to call it a day, his place among the great names of tennis is guaranteed.
 

  打开电视,转到某个体育频道,你很有可能看到两个或两对体格健壮的年轻人,在网两侧相互回击着一个橡皮球,一边打口中一边念念有词,不停地喊叫。这就是现代网球。在过去,它可是富贵人家用来消磨午后悠闲时光的活动。

  这项全名为草地网球的运动,源自十二、十三世纪法国的“宫廷网球”。当时还是室内游戏,玩者徒手以掌心击球。直到十六世纪球拍才问世,而此时网球已在贵族间蔚为风行,比赛场地的四周也隔起墙来。

  网球的法国血统也可以解释现今一些专用术语的由来。例如“Love”(零分)一般以为源于法文的“l’oeuf”,意即“蛋”;“deuce”(丢士),表示比赛中一方需要连赢两点才能拿下该局的情况,与法文deuce的原意“二”相近。

  时至今日,网球已俨然成为一种斗志高昂、对峙紧张的职业运动。参赛者虽然年纪尚未稚嫩,但是都能够表现出强烈的获胜心。他们必须争取世界顶尖排名、赢取巨额奖金,才能在职业网球事业上勇攀顶峰。

  谁稳坐近年来男子网球第一把交椅?相信在多数球迷心底,候选人只有一个:他是十二次大满贯赛的冠军得主,记录还在持续累积,他几乎等于近十年来网球运动的代名词:彼得.桑普拉斯。

  桑普拉斯,这位希腊移民后裔,生平初次接触网球是在他位于华盛顿特区老家的地下室里,对着墙壁击球。七岁时,举家迁徙至阳光普照的加州,他绝伦的网球天赋瞬间展露无遗。一九八八年,他以十六岁的年龄进军职业赛,两年不到,他已晋身世界排名前十位,并成为历史上最年轻的美国公开赛冠军。

  九三至九四年,桑普拉斯连续夺下三项大满贯赛冠军,并在此期间发了超过千个 ‘爱司球’(发球得分)。如此优异的表现,为他赢得‘快枪球王’的雅号。自此,他几乎所向披靡,只有在他的教练兼顾问──古力克森先生逝世时,才陷入过低潮;除此之外,他最大的遗憾,就是一直未能在红土球场称霸。在罗兰加洛红土球场举办的法国公开赛,迄今仍是他满桌大满贯赛冠军杯中唯一的遗憾。

  无论‘快枪球王’是否能在他日薄西山的职业网球生涯的末年破除这项‘红土魔咒’,至少有一个事实绝对不容磨灭:在他终于决定褪下战袍引退的那一刻,他已在网球殿堂立下了难以撼摇的地位。

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