Cimperman > Sportsmanship: The Name of the Game

| February 18, 2015

Sportsmanship: The Name of the Game


South African Kevin Anderson

Gary Cimperman, Valdosta Today Sports Contributor

All too often, we as fans get hung up on our favorite teams and players, cheering and supporting them any chance we get. More often than most of us care to admit, we live vicariously through these franchise athletes, imagining ourselves hoisting the trophy or leading our team to victory. Nothing is inherently wrong with this behavior; however, it is when we cross the line and begin to degrade others that we lose something within ourselves as sports fans.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit court-side for a professional tennis match featuring two top 100 players in Kevin Anderson, from South Africa, and Sam Groth, from Australia. As they took center court at the Racquet Club of Memphis and began their pre-game rituals, it occurred to me that tennis may be the only sport where the players warm-up with their opponents! We never see Peyton Manning throwing footballs around with Tom Brady, or LeBron James shooting hoops with Kobe Bryant. Furthermore, in no other sport do we see the players making the calls. Now, this does not happen on the pro circuit, but at the junior level, participants are expected to uphold the Code of Conduct and call an opponent’s shots fairly.

The two men playing before me we attempting to advance to the 3rd round and a guaranteed $17,320. They were attempting to provide for their coaching staffs, their sponsors, and most importantly, their families. Can you imagine playing a tennis match where thousands of dollars are on the line, week in and week out? Can you imagine traveling all around the world, far from childhood friends and family, for months at a time? It takes a very dedicated – and respectful – person to compete for big time money against the same players over and over again.

Friendships and trust are continuously tested on the pro tour.

And yet through it all, tennis players show the epitome of sportsmanship. From warming up, to shaking hands after the last point is played, tennis players have historically lived up to the billing. Our local junior players can learn a lot from watching a professional tennis match. Through tennis, we learn to become exceptional individuals, acquiring such attributes as respect, fair play, and yes, teamwork. Often times the skills we learn on the court transcend and impact our behavior off of it.

Climperman Gary 002Gary Cimperman is a full-time tennis professional with Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority and has been coaching for 7 years. He is USPTA/PTR certified, and well as a Tennis Performance Trainer with the iTPA and a Cardio Tennis authorized provider. He has won numerous awards including the 2014 USPTA Southern Assistant Tennis Professional of the Year, as well as the 2014 U.S. Tennis Congress scholarship.

E-mail: or call (724)-518-4153 for questions regarding private and/or group lessons.  His website is

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