Dutch tennis player Robin Haase had enough. He became incensed during an ATP Challenger tour match in the Czech Republic against Chile’s Gonzalo Lama.
Lama had been grunting throughout the game, as he’s wont to do, and midway through the second set, Haase snapped. During a rally he returned the ball and let out a loud, mocking, guttural grunt of his own — which prompted the umpire to penalize him and make Haase lose the point for hindering his opponent. Haase was angry.
“What?! He can grunt but I couldn’t? No, no, no, no, no, no. The difference is: He does it every single point and you didn’t say something — but if I do it, then you say something.”
Haase has a point, even if his grunt was a little louder and more pronounced than Lama’s. Grunting has been a contentious topic in tennis over the years, decried by some as an attempt to gain a competitive advantage.
Not only can the grunts themselves be distracting to opponents, but they help mask the sound of the ball as it leaves the racket — potentially hiding the spin put on the ball.