No love lost between tennis and football

Tennis columnist

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By LYNNE HIGGINS

Because I live near the Oak Park and River Forest High School Football Stadium, I can hear the school's band and the roar of the crowd on Saturday afternoons. For some, it brings back memories of long ago autumns and school spirit and homecoming. To me, football means shivering in the cold, envying the lucky folks sitting on the sunny side of the stands, and being grateful that none of my sons wanted to play football in high school. They didn't play tennis either, but if they had they would probably agree with my Top Ten reasons why tennis is better than football:

10) No pre-game tailgate parties?#34;we'd rather be in full control of our senses and celebrate after the match.

9) No loud, obnoxious fans?#34;in fact, we'd rather play without an audience, or at least pretend that there is no audience.

8) Marching bands get on your nerves after a while.

7) Almost everyone looks good in tennis apparel.

6) Tennis is a sport you can play well into your 70s! Have you ever seen a 60-year-old play football?

5) Good shots are celebrated with an emphatic arm pump, not a hootchy-kootchy dance.

4) Tennis players are smart enough to play inside when the weather turns cold. There's nothing to prove by playing in rain or snow!

3) You only need to round up one other person for a game.

2) We get two serves (sometimes more) to hit into the service box; football players only get one try to kick the football through the goal posts.

And the Number 1 reason why tennis is better than football ... There's no love in football.

Williams sisters rule

I remember when the press first mentioned the amazing talents of Venus Williams and her younger sister, Serena, back in the early 1990s. Like most tennis players, I was happy to see fresh young faces creating renewed interest in our sport. The popularity of tennis was on the wane and the sisters provided a welcome shot in the arm. 

Fast forward to Nov. 17, 2004, at the UIC Pavilion, where Venus and Serena made a stop on a Midwestern Charity Tour to benefit Ronald McDonald House. Thanks to Sports Editor Brad Spencer, I had two tickets to watch the exhibition match.

After a fabulous dinner with friends at the Vernon Park Tap, we headed to the Pavilion. There were so many people going our way that it reminded me of going to a Bulls game in 1998?#34;except that this time, there were people of all ages hurrying to see the two girls from Compton, and not one was disappointed.

The crowd was first treated to a spirited warm-up singles match between two outstanding juniors?#34;Donald Young and Spencer Vegosen. They'll always remember the night they were the opening act for the Williams Sisters. When Venus and Serena finally entered the arena, the love-fest began. They smiled and waved at the crowd and you could feel the affection between the two sisters. I admire them all the more for having to be competitive against each other. As the graceful Venus and the injured Serena played two sets of mildly competitive tennis, I looked around at the sold-out audience of seasoned tennis players, junior tennis players and their parents, teenage girls who came to see their role models, and folks who probably never had the opportunity to play tennis. There may be no love in football, but there was plenty of love for tennis and the Williams Sisters in the house that night.

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