No Cure For Kyrgios

Omar Rashad, Sports Editor

The one thing I despise the most in athletes is when they choose to neglect their own innate talents and abilities. An athlete that just shot up my shortlist of “Has the Talent but Not the Heart” is professional tennis player Nick Kyrgios. Despite his continual history of arguing with umpires, fans, and wildly throwing his own racket around, his latest unprecedented actions at the Shanghai Masters is beyond bothering.

It was just two years ago when an inexperienced nineteen-year-old beat the world No. 1 at Wimbledon, and in turn, surged to the fronts of magazines, world rankings, and the image of tennis itself. Yes, I’m talking about the match that made Nick Kyrgios’ world tennis ranking go from 101 to 34 after beating Rafael Nadal, ranked number one at the time.

Of course, that was the beginning of Nadal’s downward spiraling career, but it was the niche that Nick Kyrgios needed. Since then, the young prodigy has made it all the way up to No. 14 in the world, beating many well-known veterans of the game including Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic. He has consistently made it to semifinals of championships, only losing to the “top dogs” like Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Now, you would think that the only thing holding him back from winning a tournament like the US Open would be his all too experienced, extremely talented opponents ranked in the top 10, but you’re wrong. Kyrgios, quite honestly, is holding himself back. His on-court antics fueled by his ravenous ego makes tennis fans just shake their heads in disappointment. For example, in a match against Milos Raonic, his racket bounced into the seated crowd after he threw it into the ground out of frustration. In a match against Stan Wawrinka, he taunted and cursed his opponent, using vulgar statements to describe Wawrinka’s personal life. That doesn’t even include the countless times he has argued and fought with umpires.

Kyrgios has gotten his fair share of fines and punishment, but his antics continue. In the 2016 Shanghai Masters, he purposely didn’t try in his second-round match. He lightly tapped serves and even before his opponent returned balls, Kyrgios turned away, slowly getting ready for the next point. He purposely gave up the match and lost. During the match, the umpire even asked him if he wanted to play. He also got into an argument with a fan who was showing his dissatisfaction of the level of game he was watching.

The ATP didn’t tolerate any of Kyrgios’ actions and handed him hefty fines. The ATP said that Kyrgios’ actions were “contrary to the integrity of the game” (USA Today). The young tennis player now has to pay 25,000 dollars for purposely losing and 16,500 dollars for verbal abuse with a spectator and displaying a lack of effort. The young tennis star is also being handed an 8-week suspension which officially ends the season for him.

Even West Varsity Baseball player, Bennett North (11), said, “If you’re getting paid large sums of money to play a professional sport, you should be putting 100 percent of your effort on the field every time, because people are paying to watch you. And if you don’t it really ruins the game.”

Kyrgios said later in a complete statement, following his fines and suspension, “I regret that my year is ending this way and that I will not have a chance to continue chasing the ATP finals. This was an important goal for me. I do understand and respect the decision by the ATP and I will use this time off to improve on and off the court. I am truly sorry and look forward to returning in 2017.”

Whether the suspension means Kyrgios will finally find the antidote for his own irrational behavior, or whether it will just make things worse, will be unknown for now. However, there is one thing the 21-year-old can do over his suspension term. He should look at the top two ranked tennis players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, and see how old they are. He should understand that although his prodigious talent is more than just outstanding, he has a lot time left in his professional tennis career, so he should learn how to spend it right.

Much like how West Varsity tennis player, Daniel Hermosisima (11) said, “At age 21, he has potential because he is about ten years younger than some of the best players, however, if he continues his behavior it will continue to get in the way of his own performance.”

Nick Kyrgios has to focus on how to get better and improve, instead of cowering about how the umpire might need new prescription glasses. He should learn to enjoy these first few years of his career and benefit as much as he can from it, because sure enough, down the road, when all athletes are questioning why they don’t have one more championship, one more ring, or one more trophy, they will know it’s because they weren’t making the right choices when they were young in the league.

Be sure to tune back to The Athlete’s Dilemma for more on athletes and the big decisions they make.