7/14/2010 5:00:00 PM
It happens every day. To good people with the best of intentions. And it breaks my heart. They just want to reach out, share a little of themselves with someone else, maybe make someone's day! But then, like the Hindenburg or Sex and the City 2, disaster strikes.
Don't think it's not lethal. I can't tell you how many players I've fallen out of love with just by virtue of how unmitigatingly awful they are at life in 140-characters or less. It's not that they were boring, though that's the cardinal sin of social networking. It's that they broke one of a number of rules that ultimately made them a waste of cyberspace. But it ain't all doom and gloom, kids. The good news is, as many players as I've had to unfollow, at least off the tennis court, there are those players who I'd known very little about personality-wise who I've now come to adore just because they were little 140-character slices of heaven. You want to be one of those slices. I want you to be one of those slices. So consider this a twittervention as the Sweet Spot presents its TENNIS PLAYER TWITTER TEN COMMANDMENTS. Take notes.
1. THOU SHALT NOT BE BORING.
I told you this was the cardinal rule, did you think I was joking? This is going to hurt, but I say it with love: I don't care what you had for lunch. Seriously. Did you just have a killer workout and now it's off for treatment? You and everyone else chick. Flight delayed? Loving your new iPad? Zzz. No one's asking you to spread locker room gossip (Direct Message me with that shiz) or trash talk your next opponent, but behind the scenes anecdotes? We love 'em! Unless they're about Jean-Claude Van Damm. Then we're just concerned for you. Ain't nothin' going on but the rent? Start a twitter slapfight with another player.
Exhibit A: From Andy Roddick and Serena Williams:
Andy to Serena - @serenajwilliams you shut your mouth when you're talking to me
Serena to Andy - @andyroddick u r such a jerk. Lol
There's some context here, but it doesn't matter. Mommy and daddy are fighting! Not boring. Well done, Serena and Andy.
2. THOU SHALT TWEET PICTURES.
Will Tsonga become a top tweeter?
Almost as good as tweeting with other players is taking pictures with them. We want to see who you're buddy buddy with! Or, off the court, which famous people you know. (Unless it's Kim Kardashian.) Or what you look like before you put a comb through your hair in the a.m. Or, hey, poolside. You're a professional athlete with a bangin' body, don't be shy. Sex sells baby.
Exhibit B: From Anne Keothavong (@annekeothavong): Every time I see @BMATTEK, she has another tattoo. I can't think of anything worse to do to myself! http://twitpic.com/1urjjm
Notice how Anne references another player (in this case, Bethanie Mattek-Sands) and makes what appears to be a nasty swipe at her life choices. See how she not only includes a pic, but in it also reveals a) it wasn't a dig and b) she's horsing around with Bethanie! Bang up job girls.
3. THOU SHALT STOP TAKING PICTURES OF YOURSELF AT DINNER.
Is that all you do? Eat?
4. THOU SHALT DROP THE F-BOMB!
Whether you're telling off haters like Svetlana Kuznetsova (@SvetlanaK27) or telling off more haters like Victoria Azarenka (@Vika7), nothing makes readers sit up, take notice and say Oh no she &^%$ didn't like the F word. You want to get in the game? Bombs away!
Exhibit C: From Philipp Petzschner (@Petzsche): Sorry but i ve to say i [censored] won wimbledon!omg
Dude won Wimbledon dubs and dropped the F bomb. What's not to love? Head of the class, Philipp!
5. THOU SHALT STOP SELLING ME STUFF.
You know who you are. Uncle.
6. THOU SHALT BE REAL.
No one's asking you to be fabulous. We just want to get to know you a little better. Mrs. Andy Roddick, @BrooklynDDecker, struggles to wait until Thanksgiving to bust out the Christmas music. Now I feel like we're twins. There's all sorts of special crap in you. Bust it out!
Exhibit D: From Andrea Petkovic (@andreapetkovic): I'm the most exciting tennis player in the world. Here's the proof: http://twitpic.com/21t5c8
Notice how Andrea appears to be bragging. In a photo of her own, she not only reveals how humbling professional tennis can be, she also employs snazzy graphics to emphasize the point. Aces Andrea!
7. THOU SHALT STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR STUPID FANTASY FOOTBALL PICKS.
This may be a personal thing. Or maybe not. Do you really want to take that risk?
8. THOU SHALT TAKE A STAND.
Think a fellow player caught with HGH has no business playing tennis? Think rules like no eating in the Wimbledon locker room are stupid? Speak up! We wanna hear it.
Exhibit E: From Venus and Serena's limelight-eschewing mom, Oracene Price (@Oracene), who technically isn't a player but in the week since she's joined twitter has already amassed more followers than most: Where I live their isn't a bakery. I miss the smell of fresh bread in the morning. The bakery at the market sucks and so do the bakers.
Notice how Oracene isn't afraid to take a stand. Also, while she doesn't drop the F-bomb, "sucks" is a worthy, more family-friendly alternative. Finally, she isn't hung up on perfect spelling or perfect punctuation. She's real (see Rule No 6). And thanks to the power of twitter, I want her to adopt me.
9. THOU SHALT SNATCH YOUR ACCOUNT AWAY FROM YOUR PUBLICIST
You're not fooling anyone. We know it's not you. Don't make us hate you for it.
10. THOU SHALT NOT GIVE UP.
Twitter's like a graveyard of failed attempts, and they all start and finish the same way: "Trying out this twitter thing…" I'm talking to you @mardyfish. And you @Dancevictennis. @ashlyharkleroad left for a meeting with a TV producer back in December "to see what it all entails" and never came back. WHAT DID IT ALL ENTAIL?!
Listen, I know it's not easy. Social media can be a scary thing, MySpace and Friendbook and all the rest. And God forbid someone pick apart my twitter page. It reads like the stream of conscious ramblings of a psychotic 15-year-old girl. But I want you to succeed. Your fans want you to succeed. And if you're the competitive freak we know you are, you want to succeed. So go on, go give 'em something to tweet about.
Props to the Top 5 Tennis Tweeters:
5. Laura Robson (@laurarobson5)
4. Andy Roddick (@andyroddick)
3. Svetlana Kuznetsova (@SvetlanaK27)
2. Oracene Price (@Oracene)
1. Andrea Petkovic (@AndreaPetkovic)
Top 5 Players I Wish Were On Twitter:
5. Marat Safin
4. Novak Djokovic
3. Pam Shriver
2. Ernests Gulbis
1. Nikolay Davydenko
Have a player you think might need a twittervention? Or deserves a pat on the back for being so darn awesome? Feel free to pass this along. Together we can make the world a better place.
Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.