Saturday, August 31, 2013

Only The Good Die Young Remembering Shank Tennis

Young ShankTennis

This entry won't be an easy one to write but it's very necessary. As the title suggests the man known to the Twitter sphere as Shank Tennis (Steve), died last night due to cystic fibrosis. It was a testament to his character that he kept the condition secret from most people.

Steve was only on this planet for a short time but he was the epitome of quality over quantity. He contributed so much to the various online communities he participated in and in the real world.

My experiences with Steve were always pleasant, the only thing is they didn't last long enough and I never had the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoyed our interactions and he helped me in many ways. As an individual he was very intelligent on many subjects, not just sports related, humourous and possessed a sharp wit.

Both of us are from small countries where tennis is very much a minority sport. This contributed to the way he wrote and formulated his various viewpoints always looking at the wider picture of the game he loved and not just the narrow coverage of the top players,and not just the narrow coverage of the top players which dominates the tennis narrative.

The facts are people like Steve should have been setting the standard for mainstream tennis writing. If this was the case, then the overall standard would have been very high, forcing people to improve their quality of work which unfortunately is not the case now.

Enrico Beccuzzi one of Steve's favourites

Why he was outstanding as a writer and communicator. Yes, he had his favourite players but he would criticise them when deserved, it was done in a way not like the usual fanatics. Steve did his research from many sources which is a vastly underrated skill, produced well thought articles in an engaging, well written manner which is something I'd love to be able to do, but can't. Steve also had a lot of patience with different views even the most ludicrous, being an Arsenal fan patience is a virtue.

It was down to Steve, he told me when Louk Sorensen, Conor Niland, James Mcgee who tweeted the news of his death that they were playing the Aussie Open qualies. I went to their matches, tried to give as much info as I could so he could report back to the Irish tennis fans. Yes, I wish he warned me about the lack of a neck on Louk Sorensen, this was his way of hinting that's always good to discover things without it being spoonfed.

One subject we were both passionate was the poor level of prizemoney for players on the Challenger and Futures. It's not a sexy issue, but very important to the fabric of the sport. As Steve knew the financial struggles of the Irish players on tour, it was something that he'd love to see improved and as per usual argued eloquently pursuing the case. These are my tennis memories of Steve.

Besides tennis, Steve had a great interest and taste in music, he also covered Gaelic sports, global political issues which were all discussed in his usual style. I will never forget him decrying how awful the music taste is among the vast majority of ATP players. Then when he found out Sergio "Escopeta" Roitman liked the heavy metal being a Motorhead fan. When Roitman was 17 at a show of Hermetica an Argentine metal band where the crowd went a bit crazy, where he got a rubber bullet in the stomach. That gave him instant credibility in Steve's eyes.

It's obvious that he was well respected within the online tennis community. The message board where we first met and the inspiration for this blog, which he helped me create there has been many tributes RIP Steve


Steve was a mentor to many people from around the world. It didn't matter what religion, racial, social, ethnic or sexuality you were, he was always there to help, listen and provide advice to individuals in spite of his illness. He cared more for other individuals, entertaining and informing them at the same time.

Definitely don't believe this entry will do justice to Shank Tennis and wherever he is at the moment. He'd be laughing or telling me not to be so sentimental. The world has lost a great guy, one who contributed so much with his intelligence, strong commitment to critical thinking in all areas, sharp wit and great personality. Gone in body but not in spirit.

RIP ShankTennis

Gone but never fogotten


rhinooooo said...

Great tribute mate.

Never knew him personally. Communicated mainly on forums and betting regarding tennis. I really have not had much time to do those things but would always always always check the forums and twitter just for his perspective and more often than not he'd manage to say something very interesting while also raising a smile or a chuckle.

You're completely right that his writing should be setting the standard. There is such a scarcity of good tennis writing yet he managed to do such a magnificent job. I honestly mean it (and this is not being sentimental at all) - I think he was a special mind for the perspective, knowledge and wit he offered.

Anonymous said...

A voice of sanity on the Internet.

Does anyone know his actual last name?

Denys said...

That was a great tribute to an outstanding individual who I loved reading his work.

Shank last name is Kelly.

cobalt60 said...

Thanks for leading me hear. I have been a bit aloof lately.

Anonymous said...

I never knew him but followed him on twitter. Well put tribute, great shame but your last sentence summed it up well. He will definitely be missed on different social media.