Is this a silly question? Yes. But it’s the offseason, which means there’s no better time to wonder which Philadelphia Flyers player would make the best tennis player.
As I flipped through the channel guide on Tuesday night looking for something worth watching, I was met with two solid options. Highly touted prospect J.P. Crawford was making his MLB debut with the Phillies, making the baseball game a must-see event. But instead, I found myself drawn to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.
Tennis is a funny sport. Its scoring system is irrevocably screwed up (in what world does 40-love equal 3-0?) and there’s plenty of potential for strange things to happen on the court. But it’s also fascinating to watch, and not just because of the inherent aesthetic appeal of a bouncy ball flying back and forth. It’s fascinating because the psychological stress of tennis is truly unfathomable. Each swing of the racket is defined by far more than the mere physical act. Tennis players’ most insidious opponents are often their own minds.
So when tackling the admittedly silly question of which Flyers player would make the best tennis player, mental makeup is one of the most important factors. Without having done any research whatsoever on the players’ actual tennis skills, let’s run through the top contenders.
Surprised? After a disappointing season that we’ve noted several times, not much is expected out of the veteran goalie. But Neuvirth might be the Flyer best equipped to make the hypothetical leap into the sport of tennis.
Being a hockey goalie (playing in the city of Philadelphia, no less) is perhaps the only position more psychological demanding than that of a tennis player. Goalies know they won’t be perfect, yet they strive for perfection anyway. And when they inevitably get beat, they must forget it immediately and move on to the next play. Neuvirth has this ability, not to mention the thick skin he’s likely built for himself as a Philly athlete.
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If you’re talking physical attributes, Gudas is the Flyer-turned-tennis-player you want. His strong 6-foot frame and respectable mobility would make him an excellent offensive baseliner (think Sam Querrey, not Rafael Nadal).
It’s easy to see what his shortcoming would be: keeping his emotions in check. Gudas would be the kind of tennis player who spikes his racket, curses out the chair umpire, and refuses to sign autographs for kids after a loss. But that fiery demeanor might also help him elevate his play in difficult circumstances.
Ghost just seems like he would be perfect as a scrappy, unrelenting baseline player. He’d be quick and aggressive and would get to every single ball. The concerns with Ghost-the-tennis-player would be power and consistency. Gostisbehere would have to hit each ball extremely cleanly to keep pace with a player like Gudas given his comparatively diminutive size.
Ghost might also be the kind of player who makes it to the finals of every Major one year, then continually gets knocked out in the first round the following year. But hey, at least his coach wouldn’t be able to bench him anymore!