I had to do a double-take Tuesday when scrolling through the Hamburg scores. According to official ATP results, Tommy Haas lost in the first round to Robin Soderling after he retired in the second set due to a pollen allergy. That’s right, a freaking pollen allergy. That is, a runny nose, watery eyes, etc., you know it.
Think of all the great heroic efforts in sports we’ve seen: Terrell Owens playing the Super Bowl with a cracked leg, Curt Schilling pitching in the MLB playoffs with a stitched-up, still-bleeding ankle and Willis Reed hobbling in the NBA with a broken leg. Those guys sucked it up for themselves, their teams and their fans. That’s sports. That’s competition. Testing the limits. Going against the odds, but not quitting due to something like an allergy, which affects many of us especially this time of year but we get thru it.
“I always have hay fever at this time of the year, when I get over here (to Hamburg),” Haas said after the RET. “But as soon as the match started and I realized that I didn’t feel well, I got a sort of panic attack. All of a sudden nothing worked. I had the feeling that I couldn’t see properly, couldn’t focus properly, my eyes were watery and I couldn’t breathe properly.”
Let’s see if I understand you Tommy. Match started. You were losing. You got a panic attack – likely because you were losing in front of the home folks. Then your eyes started to water, maybe you got a little runny nose which clogged your breathing so you had to quit. Nice effort.
Sorry Tommy, but whatever you had and however serious, you can’t retire due to a pollen allergy. Never ever ever. Not in sports.
Your nose and eyes could be gushing like Niagara Falls but you still have to suck it up and play it out, and Tommy should know better. The guy’s had like 25 shoulder surgeries among other injuries, been thru a family crisis, always gets the worst draws, and now to pull this in of all places in front of his home fans in Germany at an event which had just lost Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian. No wonder why they booed your exit.
Tennis players have always got a bum wrap as far as toughness goes, and Tommy’s latest doesn’t isn’t going to change many minds.
Next time Tommy, make sure you take that allergy medicine – they do make that ya know – or just take the entire spring clay season off. And if you do have to play and then need to retire, please call it a collapsed lung or breathing blockage or eye malfunction or clay in the nose or just anything but a pollen allergy. Got it? Thanks.
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