Tennis! That’s right, tennis.

On Jim Rome’s show today, the clones from C-town and Chi-town took a break from phoning in smackdowns and referring to their fellow clones with such terms as “testosterone challenged dwarf from Orange County” long enough to talk, respectfully, about the James Blake – Andre Agassi match that ended around 1:15 am New York time last night. How cool is that?

The match was a titanic struggle by two thoroughly likable and courageous American tennis players. That American part is important. Tennis was very popular in the US when Connors and McEnroe were going at it. Now that European countries have increased the number of tennis courts and training centers and turned out the bulk of top players, the popularity of tennis is stronger in Europe and less so here.

Spain has eight players in the men’s top fifty, the most of any country. They also have the Sanchez-Casal, Bruguera and JC Ferrero Tennis Academies, among others. Everyone from Andy Murray to Svetlana Kuznetsova has trained there.

The US has tennis academies also but a precocious athlete here will usually end up playing basketball, football or baseball if their plan is to make money as a professional. In Europe, the game of choice is likely to be soccer.

Still, it’s a good sign that Rome’s show and many others devoted a good amount of time to talking about tennis instead of the usual staples at this time of the year – wild card races in baseball and the start of the college and professional football season.

If only Rome knew when to put a lid on it. He spends a lot of time keeping his clones under control when he could be talking about something interesting in sports. Instead of ignoring it totally and keeping any futher ideas out of the heads of his already overactive listeners, he read the following email:

Dear Romie,

I hereby nominate myself for man of the year.

Signed, Martin Navratilova

Two steps forward and one step back.

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