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Tennis explains everything – The Atlantic Ocean

Tennis explains everything – The Atlantic Ocean


Tennis is an elegant and simple sport. Players stand on opposite sides of a rectangle, separated by a net that cannot be crossed. The gameplay is full of invisible geometry: viewers can follow parabolas, angles and lines depending on how the players move and where they hit the ball. It's an ideal representation of conflict, a perfect stage to pit one competitor against another, so it's no wonder the game comes to mean all kinds of different things off the field. Googling tennis metaphor and you will learn how marriage is the call and response of a meeting; how doing business is like trying to find the best angle on your opponent; how sometimes in life it is important to come to the net.

Of course the main characters from Luca Guadagnino's film Challengers, whose entire existence revolves around tennis, also gain meaning from themselves through the rules of the game. To hear them talk to each other is to experience their monomania: everything they really mean is hidden beneath layers of tennis puns and analogies, and the boundaries between life and play become as imperceptible as those on a well-worn clay court. If this is a movie about love or longing or anything else, it's only through tennis.

The film's story takes place during the finals of the fictional Phils Tire Town Challenger tennis tournament, held in New Rochelle, New York. Through flashbacks interspersed throughout the match, we learn about the rivalry between top-tier champion Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and the scruffy, down-on-his-luck Patrick Zweig (Josh OConnor), as well as their relationships with Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), a once-promising player whose career fell apart due to injury. Although Art and Tashi are now married, the film slowly reveals the evolution of these relationships. We see how they all met at a sponsor party during the US Open Junior tournament, where Tashi promised her phone number to the winner of a match between the two guys, who were best friends at the time, and stated that they would like to have a good fuck wanted to watch. tennis. We see how Patrick and Tashi were a short-lived couple and had an affair long after their breakup, and how Doctor's unstoppable flirtation with Tashi led to a career-defining romantic and coaching relationship between the two of them. As we realize how much of their lives plays out in the Phils Tire Town final, every look, serve and movement becomes charged with meaning.

The story progresses in a manner similar to John McPhee's 1969 book: Levels of the gamewhich tells the story of a single match between two American players, Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner, in the semifinals of the 1968 US Open. Between McPhee's descriptions of various points played during the match, he travels back to key moments in the lives of each opponent, recounting the personal and social circumstances that shaped their respective playing styles and characters on the field, and how the two rivals view each other.

For McPhee, a person's tennis game begins with his nature and background and is expressed through his motor mechanisms in stroke patterns and playing characteristics. Graebner sees Ashe's short hitting and risk-taking as an extension of his casual lifestyle, equating his on-court confidence with the rising social position of black Americans. For Ashe, Graebner's cautious and predictable playing style is indicative of his traditional values ​​and conservative, family-oriented life: he calls it Republican tennis. While in some ways it was just another meeting between two old rivals, the match takes the place of competing cultural currents in America, with the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s looming in the background.

A few years later, another contest focused on post-1960s gender politics in a famous theatrical showdown. The 1973 Battle of Sexes match, between Billie Jean King and the then-retired Bobby Riggs, has since been mythologized as a turning point for women's sports. The social allegory of the Ashe-Graeber match may have been subtextual, but that of this spectacle, which ended in a decisive victory for King over the cartoonishly chauvinistic Riggs, was strikingly explicit. At a time when women's liberation was becoming a force that challenged all kinds of conventions, and many people were for or against the achievements of the movement, the debate represented by a game of tennis certainly had a reassuring appeal. For those with more regressive beliefs, it was certainly easier to argue for Bobby than to actually formulate a justification for perpetuating huge gender pay gaps both inside and outside of professional tennis.

In ChallengersAccording to Tashi, the subject of tennis plays a similar orienting role for three players whose only skill in life is hitting a ball with a racket. Tashi talks to Patrick and Art after meeting them and describes tennis as a relationship. On the court, she understands her opponent and the crowd understands them both, watching them almost fall in love as they battle back and forth. For Tashi, who has nothing but tennis to talk about, the tennis metaphor works because it makes intuitive sense to see things as a game based on one-on-one competition, long-term rivalry, and extensive strategic play. While almost everything else in her life may be complicated, tennis is not.

But this assured confidence does not follow the players off the field. Within their love triangle, tension arises with the realization that in a one-on-one sport there is always someone else who has no place on the field. Except for the night they meet, when Tashi tricks Art and Patrick into kissing for her amusement, they rarely interact at the same time: there's always someone watching from the stands, literally or figuratively. Of course, Tashi's solution to the battle between Patrick and Arts, by giving her number to the winner of their match, doesn't stop the loser from wanting to continue playing. Life isn't that That simple.

The boundaries between sport and play are also not so clearly defined. During Patrick and Tashi's brief romance, a post-coital conversation transitions seamlessly into a discussion about Patrick's poor performance as a professional, ultimately becoming a referendum on why their relationship isn't working. Confused, and trying to make sense of it all as their banter quickly changes definitions, Patrick asks: Are we still talking about tennis? We always talked about tennis, Tashi replies. Frustrated, Patrick answers curtly: Can't we?

What would it mean for them not to talk about tennis? As linguists George Lakoff and Mark Johnson argue in their 1980 book: Metaphors we live byOur ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. In other words, we always talk about things in terms of other things, even if it is not always as obvious as it is Challengers. Metaphors are more than just a poetic device; they are fundamental to the way language is structured. Complex ideas almost always elude easy explanation, so we turn, consciously or unconsciously, to metaphors. When tennis represents these different concepts—love, gender, and race—they become easier to discuss because of the inherent legibility of the sport. No matter what issue is at stake, or how grand it may be, it can always be traced back to the individual performance on the field.

And as a sport, tennis is versatile enough to be a playful and rich metaphor Challengers. While Patrick is still dating Tashi, and Art transparently tries to steal his best friend's girl, Patrick playfully accuses Art of playing percentage tennis, a patient strategy of making low-risk shots and wait for your opponent to mess up. It's something unique to the game because it wouldn't really make sense in the context of other individual sports like boxing, athletics or bowling. As we learn, it is also not a good strategy for love, because although Art do If Patrick makes his decision as soon as Patrick inevitably messes up, his relentless effort isn't enough to make Tashi truly love him.

On the night before the Phils Tire Town final, Art asks Tashi's permission to retire once the season is over. Art knows that this would be the end of their professional relationship – he would no longer be able to play Tashi's dutiful student. But it could also be the end of the spark that animated their love in the first place, since you can't play good tennis after retirement. Tashi says she will leave Art if he doesn't beat Patrick in the finals. Art is tired of playing, but can't escape the game. He crawls onto his wife's lap and cries.

The next day, as the finale nears its end, tensions run high. Art has just discovered the truth about Patrick and Tashi's affair, and the match goes into a tiebreaker to decide the final set. After an intense rally, Art jumps for a punch, falls over the net and lands in Patrick's arms. As she watches her two lovers embrace, Tashi stands up and shouts, “Come on!” with a passion not seen since the beginning of her career. It doesn't matter who wins. Lost in a moment of catharsis, they finally stop talking about tennis.

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