While most of us enjoy watching tennis from the comfort of our homes, the hard bleacher seats at a grand slam, or from a bar stool inside your local pub, there are a select few individuals who get paid to watch tennis. No, I am not talking about the coaches of the players on court, or the rouge individuals betting on a match, we are talking about the commentators that commentate the matches. Their voices add a nice soft backdrop of knowledge and education while the ball smashing between player A and player B take place in front of your eyes. It isn't easy commentating tennis. It requires experience, preparation, and knowledge for the game of tennis.
Imagine watching a game of tennis at home on your tv, or now a days on your laptop, and all you hear is the sound of the crowd and the popping sound of the ball being hit by the players, with no commentary. Is this how you enjoy watching tennis? Some of you may say yes, the commentators just add distraction, and some of you may truly enjoy the commentary. There is no right or wrong answer, it all depends on your personal preference while watching tennis. However, with a well prepared and knowledgeable commentator, it can change your game watching experience. Commentators add education, history, and strategy that help put the game into perspective. Most of you have probably watched a match that had been commentated by popular tennis stars such as: John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, and Brad Gilbert. But, the commentator we are going to talk about today is Marc Lucero. For those of you who do not know Marc, you should educate yourself on his involvement within the game of tennis.
Over the past 14 years, Marc has emerged as one of the preeminent coaches for budding stars. He spent a little over four years, 2008-2012, as a developmental coach for the USTA, where he coached both junior and professional players. At the 2018 US Open, Marc is spending his time commentating and when he is not commentating, he is working with an American junior player, Katrina Scott. This is Katrina's first appearance at the US Open Junior event, which is super exciting for both Katrina and Marc. Marc is also working with Shelby Rogers, who is currently working her way back from an injury.
We wanted to interview Marc and have a better idea of what it was like to commentate a tennis match. So, we asked Marc 4 questions related to commentating, and here is what he had to say:
Do you do any prep work before commentating a match? As an example, studying a players game?
"I do quite a bit of prep work prior to a match. I want to know as much as I can about the players competing. I’ll take a look at their season so far, any history of head to head matchups, past results at this particular event, things like that. If its a player that I’m not too familiar with, I’ll ask coaches or players what they think about that player; if I know how that player plays, it helps me have an idea of what sort of tactics to expect from that player, and also from his or her opponent. I will also sometimes speak with the coaches prior to the match if its someone I know. A great example is this year in the first round- I did Kevin Anderson versus Ryan Harrison so I reached out to Brad and told him I was doing the match and asked him what the keys to the match were for Kevin against a player like Ryan. Another day I did Diego Schwartman’s match against Jaume Munar, a young Spanish player. I didn’t know him but I saw he played Stevie Johnson last week, so I reached out to Craig Boyton, Stevie’s coach, to learn more about him. I think it adds to the broadcast to refer to information directly from the coaching team or the locker room, provided that you let people know that you’re asking for info to be used on air."
How would you describe your commentating style? Do you critique shot selection, strategy, or are you high energy with excitement (like a soccer announcer)?
"I try to explain in simple terms what is going on in the match tactically. If Player A is winning, why are they being successful? Or if Player B is struggling, are they just having a bad day or is the opponent making them play badly? I also think it helps to explain why certain shots are picked in certain situations, or why certain plays are successful from certain parts of the court. I also try to explain what a player might be thinking in certain moments or what sort of adjustments they might look to make. I try to bring the energy at all times. My natural Southern California tone is pretty mellow so its something that I’m constantly working on."
Do you have a favorite commentating partner? Or, if not, who do you think would be fun to commentate with?
"I have enjoyed every partner that I’ve been paired with. The play-by-play role in my eyes is so challenging because of what they have to do and how prepared they have to be. And they are the ones who often tee me up and help me look like an expert. So I am grateful to all of them for their patience and their guidance. And I love when they give me feedback, there is so much I can learn from them. My dream partner would probably be either Bob Costas (I think he’s the best in the business) or Brent Musberger. Musberger simply to hear him open the broadcast with “You are looking LIVE…” "
What has been the most entertaining match thus far that you have commentated for at the US Open?
"I really enjoyed doing the Anderson-Harrison match on the opening night of the Open. It was an incredible match from both players. I know Ryan very well, we go back a long way, and to see him play at the level he played made me really happy for him. Kevin is a player I have a ton of respect for; I think the example he has become for a player to make so much improvement and such a big jump on the back end of his career is remarkable and someone all players can aspire to be like. Not to mention how professional and meticulous he is about what he does. We see him occasionally in South Florida when we practice and I really enjoy watching him work. The match had so much drama and Kevin was an absolute warrior. 5 sets on court 17 on opening night was a great way for me to start."
Stay tuned for more news and highlights. Let us know in the comments if you enjoy having commentators during a tennis match, or if you would prefer otherwise. Follow along and let us know what other tennis topics you think we should cover.