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TV commentators. From Growltiger. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on September 16, 2010


New Topic

Jenny got us all going with her great “animal” question.

I got so frustrated listening to Dick Enberg running his mouth during the final that I was screaming “SHUT UP” at the television.

So let’s have at it at the commentators. And don’t be nice except when it’s warranted.

I’ll start.

Patrick McEnroe – Needs to put on a little bra, short tennis skirt and wave pom poms when Federer, Nadal, Murray, Isner or Querry are playing. He is not objective.

Brad Gilbert – smart but with a mean streak.

John McEnroe – A good commentator who doesn’t deserve to be paired with Mary and Enberg.

Mary – Used to be the best but recently talks constantly.

Enberg – Will not shut up. He ran his mouth to the point I wanted to mute the TV but was interested in what McEnroe was saying so couldn’t. He and Mary even talked about the concession stand during one long point.

Conners – The best

Martina – Up there with Conners.

Tracy – Grating voice. Knows tennis but says stupid stuff.

Leif Sheiras – Is that how you spell it? What’s he doing there? Was he a tennis player? I never heard of him.

Courier – Super

Arias – Good, too.

Justin – Irksome but knows what he’s talking about.

Now it’s ya’ll’s turn.


53 Responses to “TV commentators. From Growltiger. Thanks.”

  1. overcaffeinated said

    Sadly I find Jim Courier extremely annoying. He has been commentating at the AO on the Australian commentary team for the past few years. He hogs the microphone and just rambles on and on and on and on and on and on… The cardinal sin is that he talks during points and seems to love the sound of his own voice. He comes up with crappy new terms such as “baby set points” or “baby match points” when someone is on a break point at a clutch point in a set. Pronounces Rafa as RAAFAA, pispronounces his worms and trys to chat up the female commentators when he feels they are good looking. This said, he is quite a good analyser.

    Then there is Tracy Austin hired by the AO team as well. Somebody needs to give her the network bullet. The female version of Jim Courier, however somewhat less relevant as she keeps referring to her days of playing… at least JC is within the last couple of generations and understands the current game.

    As for the Aussie commentators – heck, don’t let me get started… but I will 😉

    Nearly all of the network 7 team for the AO are atrocious. Be thankful if you are don’t watch Australian network coverage. The sickening bias towards a hack Australian player, is hard to stomach. Seriously you would think there was only one player in the singles match. Names of serial offenders: Sandy Roberts (never played pro tennis in his life and is just a network sports dude); John Alexander (former pro and now a State politician); Roger Rasheed (plonker who formerly coached the other plonker, Lleyton Hewitt); and Nicole Pratt (former hack of a pro player) – her commentary is bland, obvious, and non insightful. For someone who recently retired, you would think she would offer better insight.

    John Newcombe and Fred Stolle are in the same boat of being sickengly myopic when any Australian is playing. They are well past an value to commentary and nothing has changed in their sytle or comments in at least the 23 years I have been hearing their warbling.

    The Martina Hingis experiement some years back was indeed an failure. She never returned.

    Perhaps the best commentator on Australian TV is Mark Woodforde. Excellent balance as a commentator. Excellent insight to the game. Reads the game very well and commentates just as well.

    Finally, the best commentators I have heard in recent years are the team of Robbie Koenig, Jason Goodall and Doug Adler. Super trio. Super excited and thrilled by the game. They have their favourites, but are very, very fair in all their commentary. Great analysts and usually bring in some interesting trivia during the slow periods of a match.

    Thanks for getting through this folks … A happy day to all 🙂

    • M said

      “pispronounces his worms”

      *once again, tries not to laugh*

    • sally said

      i used to love fred stolle back in the 90’s when he was on espn with
      cliff drysdale. miss them as a team so much.

    • Bjornino said

      I must disagree about Robbie Koenig. I think he says zero interesting things, and just keeps repeating stupid pre-programmed sentences like “Spot on!” all the time. What is it about Robbie Koenig that you like? Sometimes I have a feeling they brought him on board just cuz he’s got a funny accent.

      • jennifur said

        like goodall waaaaaay better than koenig…. fur surrre

      • overcaffeinated said

        I just like they way the trio work together on-air. Tehy bring a geniune interest to the game and to ALL players. I will tune in to the next lot of MS events to check out the “spot on” that Robbie comes up with, and focus a bit more on what he offers. You may well be “spot on” with your comment Bjornino, however I guess I am distracted by the various folks speaking. I don’t mind Robbies South African accent either, especially when he screams out “UNBELEIVABLE” when someone wins a point with an insanely good shot…

        And for M… always happy to know that the occasional something crazy I write, brings you a laugh 🙂

      • Ricke said

        Robbie drives me crazy when he keeps referring to Roger as “the former world number one” and before that “the world number one.” It just never stops. Great at analyzing a match though!

      • Phil said

        Robbie Koenig is not only the worst tennis commentator I have ever heard, he is the worst sports commentator. Period. All his comments are so blatantly obvious that even my clueless-about-tennis mother laughs from the other room when she hears some of his nonsensical “insights.”

        Some of the reasons he sucks include:
        – He constantly talks about his personal life, friends and family, regularly giving “shout outs” to folks back home. He once congratulated a friend for getting married on air IN THE MIDDLE OF A RALLY. How unprofessional is that?
        – He gets way overexcited, shouting obscenely loudly whenever someone hits a marginally good shot. Even if they are relatively easy put-aways he creams his pants if the shots look good. It’s reached the point where I turn down the TV because his outbursts are so frequent.
        – If you take a shot for every time he says “spot on”, “100%” or “couldn’t agree with you more”, you would have alcohol poisoning within ten minutes.
        – He gets super pissed off if the other commentators make fun of him and can’t banter to save his life. I remember once Jason Goodall made a joke about his height (he’s like five foot nothing), and Koenig got really offended and said barely another word for the next 45 minutes.
        – He often says blatantly untrue and demonstrably false things, and regularly contradicts himself. He also seems to forget what happened in the match HE IS COMMENTATING ON five minuets after the fact. When Fed played Djokovic in Rome last year (I think), I remember distinctly that one dude whistled during Djokovic’s second serve, causing him to double fault. That made the score 15-30 or something at 5-6 I think. For the rest of the match Koenig talked about the double fault that Djokovic served at set point to lose the set, and that the spectator was at fault. EVEN AFTER BEING CORRECTED, he kept making that mistake.
        – He has zero objectivity. Whenever someone is winning a match he can’t shut up about how awesome they are, but if they are losing or struggling they are the worst ever. And God help us if someone turns a match around. I’ve seen him trash Federer at the start of matches only to kiss his ass the second he starts winning. Especially in Fed matches he constantly talks about how unreliable his forehand is, but whenever he hits a great winner he says how rock-solid that shot is.
        – He says the same things about the same players over and over and over again. Even in the same match. The observations have zero insight as well.
        – He says ALL Spanish words like a a normal-speaking person would – i.e. say “s” instead of “th” – EXCEPT when talking about “Felithiano Lopez”

        A knock against Doug Adler, Goodall and Koenig is that they wear kid gloves when talking about matches, never criticizing players when they deserve it. That’s probably the ATP’s rule or something though, so I’m willing to let that one slide a little

      • Jenny said

        “EXCEPT when talking about “Felithiano Lopez”


    • Growltiger said


      YES! Commentators letting on who they’re backing is probably just as annoying as Enberg’s diarrhea of the mouth. I don’t care who they want to win. I might be backing that player, I might not be, or, as in the case of the US Open final, I like them both. I don’t to hear how great Federer is. I know he’s great. I can see it. No flaws in his game. Okay, enough of the cheerleading. There’s a reason tennis doesn’t have pom pom girls shaking and shimmying on the sidelines.

      Americans want Roddick, Isner, Querry, Fish et al to do well (though they don’t give Mardy half the hype they give the others). So do I. But I watch for the GAME – the beautiful strokes, the nearly chess-like strategy. I know they don’t like Djokovic. GET OVER IT. Let those of us who admire his game watch without being “treated” to some inane comment about how sorry his box dresses. They’re Serbians. They probably think we dress funny, too.

      Now we’re staring on Nadal. “Best Ever”, all that hype. He’s great. Love him. But let us make up our own minds. Andy Murray is one of my favorites but I despised the way they promoted him in the US Open.

      THANK YOU TP for letting me rant.

  2. Dante said

    Corina Morariu: well spoken and balanced
    John McEnroe: fun, but talks about himself a little too much
    Brad Gilbert: Nicknames, cute sayings, and promoting his favorites is beyond annoying
    Darren Cahill: Always fair and insightful. (As a side note, saw him at JFK coming home from the open and he is pretty yummy in person)

  3. Jenny said

    Thanks, Growltiger. I can’t comment about the American guys, we don’t hear them, maybe on a stream occasionally, but not enough to be irritating. Peter Fleming is an American, but he’s lived over here for years and comments for Sky and Eurosport. Leif Shiras is also American but visits here occasionally and joins our team, no complaints about Peter or Leif. However, I can’t criticise the other regular British comms too much either because they are, on the whole, pretty good and fair. I only grizzle when some over-hype Murray, which to an extent is understandable, but sometimes I feel they don’t always give his winning opponent enough credit.

    • Growltiger said

      I guess I forgot what a wonderful international blog this is.
      We get Robbie Koenig here and for those who don’t like him, you ought to have to listen to Enberg for an hour, and you’d be worshiping at his altar. I personally like Koenig because he’s objective. I hate it when I can tell who the commentator is rooting for. Or when the commentator tells me what I can obviously see. It’s like a football commentator saying — “the center is centering the ball”. Then they add something inane like, “he’s feeling scared because he’s gonna get smushed as soon as it is snapped.” Conners doesn’t do that. When he and Martina are commentating, we even get dead air which is WONDERFUL.

      • Jenny said

        Connors has been a guest pundit here and I thought he was good, very fair, far different than he was when he was on the courts, I mean demeanour wise! My late mum used to love him. Do you listen to our Virginia Wade? A former Wimby and US? champ. I like her too, and imo she always credits strengths in a player, rather than over-plays any weaknesses, irrespective of ranking, male or female.

  4. sally said

    dick enberg is an embarrassing buffoon and needs to be taken off the broadcast.
    carillo and mcenroe talk way too much.

    • Growltiger said

      The problem is our archaic law that doesn’t allow Tennis Channel to carry a slam (or big event) IF one of the guys with clout (CBS or ESPN) bid. They ignore tennis except when they think they can make money whereas the Tennis Channel broadcasts the stuff they don’t want. (I do not work for the Tennis Channel in any way and know no one who does.)

      My second biggest peeve is having to listen to Brad and Patrick knock Djokovic. I know not everybody likes him, but I do. It got so bad during Wimbledon and Cincy that I DID put the tv on mute. A friend watches and she told me they even criticized Djokovic’s box for dressing alike.

  5. banti said

    Fred Stolle hands down the best! Cool as a cucumber. Cahill my number 2. Wow, what’s with the Aussies.

    • banti said

      “Robbie Koenig, Jason Goodall and Doug Adler. Super trio. ”

      Killing it in Oz.

    • Phil said

      Stolle is OK, he just needs to stop breathing into the mic. Like damn Darth Vader in-between comments.

      • Bettyjane said

        Guffaw! This is SO true. Poor man. I like his comments well enough and love him for his remarks as to why Soderling beat Fed at RG this year. (the weather conditions favoring Sod!) Don’t you love that. It’s not favoritism sometimes to blame forces outside of the players control.

    • Growltiger said

      Both are GREAT. Forgot Cahill in the above list. He’s one of my favorites.

  6. Jenny said

    Here you go GT. Re Leif Shiras.
    Source Wiki:

    “…..His career-high ranking was World No. 31 in singles (in 1984), and World No. 57 in doubles in (in 1988).

    Shiras retired from the professional tour in 1990. Since retiring as a player, he has worked as a tennis journalist. In 1993, he moved from Toronto, Canada, to where he currently resides in Laguna Hills, California, with his two sons, Emmett and Austin, and his wife Maria…..”

  7. xeres said

    Luke Jensen and forgot the other guy’s name really annoyed me during this Open ! I mean they kept talking about other matches or anything but what was happening on court.
    There’s this other guy(during RG I think) who pronounces winner like weeeeeeener LOL 😀

    What do you guys think about Becker ? Once heard Safinator comment…brilliant analyst he is !

    • Growltiger said

      I never liked Becker as a player but he is a very intelligent, thoughtful tennis authority. I find Safin difficult to understand but he’s probably one of the wittiest players in the game.

      • Phil said

        Becker is annoying. Makes super obvious comments for the most part. Though I respect the fact that he’s not afraid to call players out for BS. He was the only one with the balls to say straight out that Nadal’s “injury” timeout was completely tactical and had nothing to do with his body. He actually laughed when Nadal made a huge running leap after breaking in the next game, saying how stupid it is that he’s doing that after just having been “treated for an injury”. Loved that.

      • Jenny said

        I respect Becker too.

    • grendel said

      Phil – which Nadal match are you referring to?

      Peter Fleming is excellent. He doesn’t say much – he seems to appreciate that the viewer has eyes of his own – and when he has something to say,it is informative and to the point. He’s witty, too, in an understated way.

      Frew Macmillan is the best. Again, quiet, and very shrewd and knowledgeable – without ramming his knowledge down your throat a la Navratilova.

      Andrew Castle is the ultimate greaseball. A commentator is presumably there to act as eyes for the non-tennis playing viewer, who sometimes needs some help in interpretation. He understands that the viewer is interested in the tennis, not in him. With Castle, it more or less seems the other way round.

      re Leif Shiraf – a nice, quirky commentator. I always remember him playing McEnroe in the final at Queens. McEnroe was on one of his rants at changeover, and Leify started swaying from one foot to the other, gently mocking him. McEnroe was livid since a)so far as I know, the other player never got involved in his tirades and b)Leify was, in McEnroe’s eyes, being presumptuous, since he was the star on show. “keep your place, junior!” he spat out, or words to that effect.

      • Jenny said

        Hi Grendel,

        I agree about Frew MacMillan, he has a dry wit too, is often referred to by our other comms as ‘Sir Frew’. He tends to stay with Eurosport, doesn’t he? Ah! Mr Andrew Castle, the ‘suave’ gent from the Beeb, lol I can’t add to your comment! Fortunately, I just hear him when it’s Queens and Wimby time! Good story about Shiras, I think he’s nice.

      • M said

        *waves at grendel*

      • Phil said

        The Petzchner-Nadal match at Wimbledon

  8. Bettyjane said

    I enjoy Johnny Mac but he’s been talking wayyy too much and think he shines best with Ted Robinson and frankly miss their USA TV coverage of the Open. Mary Carillo recently said that she usually doesn’t speak at all during a tiebreak. Hmmm—I’ll have to check that from here on in. I would have muted the sound during the final with him and Enberg but I like hearing the ball being struck.

    Also love Cahill (how can you NOT). Absolutely true about Brad—mean streak, and considering he was merely an ok player I find that nervy.

    Cliff Drysdale is a kick with those frame-freezing analyses. I’m sure the guys in the production booth have to stay on their toes with him on board.

    • M said

      Bettyjane, I think Johnny Mac has been having a yackity spate since he likes Rafa.

      “Mary Carillo recently said that she usually doesn’t speak at all during a tiebreak.”
      I have my skeptic face on right now. 😕

      I like your analysis. I still say we should put you and Jenny in the booth. 😛

  9. ricky said

    Wilander is the most embarassingly painful person as a commentator to me!

  10. D.S.G. said

    This is so interesting… so many different opinions about the same people! I guess that’s why there are twelve people on a jury.

    Here’s my list:


    Justin Gimbelstob
    Ted Robinson
    John McEnroe.

    Can’t Abide:

    Brad Gilbert
    DICK ENBERG (and I’m not even counting his TOTAL rudeness to del Potro after winning the US Open last year)
    Martina Navritolova-talks way too much, her voice is unpleasant to listen to, and when she and Peter Enberg co-announce they won’t shut up.
    Jimmy Conners- talks waaaay too much about the old days when he won this or that tournament

    (I usually agree with you, Growltiger but was surprised to read that you liked both Enberg and Navratalova !)

    Phil: I thought it was interesting to read what you said about Koenig. I have never heard him but I did hear Cliff Drysdale rolling his “r”s when talking about Rrrrfael, etc.
    It was totally annoying.

    This was fun. Great idea !

    • D.S.G. said

      Is my face red !! I looked back, GrowlTiger and saw what you wrote about Enberg. It seems we are on the same page…

      • Growltiger said

        It was/is great to know all the other tennis fans are out there gnashing their teeth over the commentary. I am a Djokovic fan and the amount of trashing these bozos do to him drives me bonkers. He was the No 3 player in the world going into the US Open and all they talked about was Murray, Rafa and Federer. I am a fan of Murray and Rafa and appreciate that Federer is a superb player, but I felt like gagging. During Wimbledon, I was all read for them to say (about Djokovic) “And his mother wears combat boots!” It’s disgusting. Leave his mother and father out of it. Patrick was the worse, but Brad was right there trashing him, too.

        Okay, rant over. But this was fun. We should all thank TP for a wonderful web site. I look forward to opening my email every a.m. (Sooner or later tho’ I’m going to have to get back to work!)

  11. RafaFan said

    My #1 commentators are: Ted Robinson and John McEnroe. They don’t talk to much and are able to bring kind of solemn mood to GS finals i.e. Wimbledon 2009. Pleasant voices. Also the Sampras-Federer match at Wimbledon 2002? was commentated absolutely fair and unbiased by the two and their guy was losing! Thank you!

    • Growltiger said


      Don’t know where you live, but I endured Enberg and Mary during the Finals. The next day the Tennis Channel reran it but with Martina and Conners commentating. It was apples and oranges. Martina and Jimmy were appropriate, didn’t speak during wonderful points (and there were many). Leif Shiras was with them and he was okay. (I like him better now that I know his background.)

      Rafa and Djokovic gave us a wonderful final. Rafa proved he should be No 1 in the world and Djokovic played his guts out and lost to a better player which he acknowledged which is classy.

      I’ve seen three memorial matches in the past three years. Queens (grass), Madrid (clay) and Open (hard) and all three have pitted Rafa and Novak. In all three the loser (Novak) would have beat any other player in the field that day. A testament to how good Rafa is.

  12. Chicago Fan said


    –Darren Cahill–very intelligent analysis
    –Andre Agassi–commented on the U.S. Open last year for a bit
    –Cliff Drysdale
    –Chris Fowler

    –Brad Gilbert
    –The two McEnroes, especially Patrick
    –Serena–When she came into the booth, the two McEnroes were beside themselves praising her; also she mc’d some charity game, where she asked Rafa and Roger to take off their shirts and show their abs; classy as always
    –Tracy Austin
    –Pam Shriver–truly cringeworthy; asked Michael Phelps what was under his Speedo.

    • Growltiger said

      Forgot Pam. She’s awful. Also forgot Mary Jo who is beautiful and very appropriate. I don’t like them interviewing the players before they go on court, however. That’s when they’re trying to get into their game mentality and along comes some bozo who sticks a mic in their face. I also think it’s wrong to make them show up for interviews after they’ve lost. All of them are pros — get over their loss quickly — but just after it happens, they’re devastated.

      • Jenny said

        I don’t like them interviewing the players before they go on court, however. That’s when they’re trying to get into their game mentality and along comes some bozo who sticks a mic in their face. I also think it’s wrong to make them show up for interviews after they’ve lost. All of them are pros — get over their loss quickly — but just after it happens, they’re devastated.

        Absolutely agree. Well said 🙂 Remembers Delpo who was inconsolable after one of his losses, he had to be helped out of the room, very upsetting for all concerned.

    • D.S.G. said

      Oh! I forgot about when the McEnroes asked Serena to the commentators box!!! I wanted to say to them,”Don’t you all know there’s a tennis match going on???”

      Extremely annoying.

      Ted Robinson is my favorite.

  13. larry said

    Koenig, Goodall and Adler focus on the match, provide enthusiasm and insight – they rank with the baseball duo of Dean and Reese from the early 60’s as the best sports broadcast teams of all time.

  14. Dee said

    I enjoy their little feuds.It’s funny because they can’t yell or show how they really feel.when they disagree they have the same tone just randomly making remarks — any one can see what they really want to say to each other.

  15. Michelle said

    Koenig is the best, no question! He is both a tennis players commentator as well as a commentator for Joe Soap. He has great insight, he’s succinct, great enthusiasm for the sport and great accent.
    Phi, i see what you getting at with a few repetitions of words, but him and Goodall do about 3-4 times more matches than anyone else and there’s only so much you can say about a tennis match without repeating yourself…Koenig’s quality over seriously long periods is unsurpassed, a lot of people fail to take that into account!

    My list: 1) Koenig/Goodall combo

    2) All other individuals and combo’s play 2nd fiddle to Koenig and his co-commentater!

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