By Grant Vanzura
Holding Court Podcast: An Overview
Tennis is a game rooted on individual competition, skill, and grace. In Patrick McEnroe’s podcast Holding Court, listeners get insight on strategies and qualities that make both a person and a tennis player successful from one of the sport’s sharpest minds. Guests range from athletes such as Sergio Garcia, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Chrissie Evert, etc to famous actors such as Ben Stiller, Alec Baldwin, and Kyle MacLachlan, with whom he draws parallels between the sport and other professions. McEnroe covers topics that include, but are not limited to teaching methods, the mental toll of the game, discipline required, youth sports issues, level of preparation required, and how to maintain love for the sport in general.
Patrick’s endeavors from an early age have allowed him to have first-hand access to many tennis icons including names aforementioned. Fans of the game have been spoiled as of late due to the talents of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and a myriad of other great tennis players that have increased the game's popularity. In his podcast, McEnroe speaks about practices and stories that could help mold the upcoming generation of tennis players. His close relationship with the UTSA has led to him influencing the style of play for tournament style tennis players. In his podcast, McEnroe speaks about a more inclusive method of training and teaching tennis that would help open up the game to more players of all ages and skills. The mental toll of playing tennis, McEnroe emphasizes, can lead an aspiring athlete astray from playing the game. Unlike football, basketball, hockey, soccer, or any other team sport, tennis players are left looking at the mirror for correcting mistakes because they do not rely on teammates and can point solely to their own errors as the reason for why they lost a match. McEnroe desires to aid the next generation of players to understand and excel at possibly the most taxing part of playing the sport.
With a few of McEnroe’s guests in the entertainment industry, he discusses and compares aspects of acting/performing to aspects of tennis, especially the competitive nature and level of preparation success takes in both fields. In both of these professions, the audience scrutinizes every action done by the actor or athlete. Tennis is a sport in which competitors are held to a high standard in how they carry themselves while on the court. When a player loses their temper or shows any sign of bad sportsmanship, the chair umpire and the audience always notice and critique which can be overwhelming especially for younger athletes that have not experienced the mental toll of playing five sets of tennis in a competitive match. This parallels the acting profession as one scene in which the actor breaks character or does not express the ample emotion for a scene can lead to heavy criticism from critics as well as fans.
Holding Court also sheds light on how the pressures in modern day youth sports can affect how parents mentor their children. A common misconception among parents influencing their children in the direction of competitive sports is the amount of training required for an athlete to reach success. McEnroe and guest Dick Vitale speak in episode five about the excessive professionalism of youth sports. Many of the world’s greatest tennis players and athletes played multiple different sports as children. Diversifying these sports allows young athletes to become more well-rounded in their approach to any one given sport as well as not exhaust them to the point of losing their joy for the game.
While recalling many great memories McEnroe has of tennis, listeners can feel the unbridled joy Patrick has for the game. Holding Court is a podcast designed not only for tennis fans, but also for people looking to learn how to compete the right way without damaging one’s inherent love for their hobbies, passions, sports, jobs, or any other field based in competition.