Ten years ago, they hardly existed but now there are thousands of podcasts, so if you are interested in tennis, who should you be listening to? We speak to the BBC’s Simon Mundie about his new sports podcast Don’t Tell Me the Score and round up the best of the tennis pods
“In a way podcasts are a more natural form of broadcasting,” says Simon Mundie who has temporarily swapped the headline-grabbing role of BBC sports reporter to present his new weekly podcast. “You can go to places you wouldn’t be able to in a normal radio interview and explore issues at greater length.”
The result is a series of broadcasts that focus on what sport can teach us about everyday life.
“The sports calendar is very full and as a sports reporter there is always a story to look ahead to or one to report on. It a fast-paced world and you don’t normally get a chance to reflect. But all the key skills, particularly mental skills, you need in sport serve you well in life and that really interests me.”
Subjects in upcoming editions include sports tribalism and how it influences everything from politics to social media, and how sport generates the same kind of anxieties that we feel in everyday life while giving us a chance to manage them in a safer environment.
“Don’t Tell Me the Score” coincides with the launch of BBC Sounds, a replacement for BBC iPlayer with a new emphasis on podcasts. It is a dramatic reflection of the way listening habits are changing and something of a surprise given that this is supposed to be the era of the “soundbite”.
“Podcasts are very popular with young people,” says Simon. “They are a very immersive form of broadcasting and as a presenter I can give more of myself – I represent the listener in the conversation.”
Simon’s podcasts aren't all about tennis, though as a self-confessed “tennis nerd” and a man whose idea of a well-spent evening is playing DVDs of ancient Wimbledon matches, you can expect tennis to be well covered. This week’s episode features an interview with sports psychologist and author of Head Start: Build a resilient mindset to achieve your goals, Ian Price. Ian, who by his own admission, is not a natural sportsman, successfully applied his analysis of “resilience” in sport to his own tennis, refusing to accept that a "great backhand" couldn't be his. It’s worth a listen, as there are lessons there for all aspiring players not least in not accepting self-imposed limits to what you can achieve.
Lessons, indeed, that Simon, a pretty-good player himself, looks to be taking to heart. “I’ve actually been playing pretty well thank you for asking. Then in April I ripped the meniscus in my knee serving to this guy I had been really keen to play. So I’ve had to have surgery. I’m aiming for a return to the court in March.” With the kind of positivity the sports psychologist would be proud of, he adds: “Hey, if Federer can do it, and we are roughly the same age, then what’s stopping me?"
Don’t Tell Me The Score is available on the BBC website and through the new BBC Sounds App via Amazon, Google Play Store and iTunes
Five of the best tennis podcasts
A long-running weekly, and daily during Grand Slams, podcast presented by British journalists David Law and Catherine Whitaker. The pair evidently know the game inside out and provide excellent insights and analysis on everything you need to know from the world of tennis each week with big name guests often making an appearance too. If you are looking for updates on the British players' results and performances, this is also the place to come.
Another well established podcast, brought to you by Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim. Rather than just focusing on the latest news, Jon exclusively interviews different guests each episode with topical conversation and discussions on all elements of the game from the future of tennis to the sport in the middle east and what's new in tennis gadgets and products.
Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen, this is a typically casual and fun American show with new episodes “uploaded every weekish” as they put it. Not only do you get an in-depth analysis of the latest happenings, where the presenters can often go off on tangents, but there are also interesting and personal interviews with journalists, coaches and authors that you wouldn’t normally hear.
Toronto-based hosts Jonathan and James have a clear passion for tennis and use their good humour and expertise to provide entertaining and insightful coverage on a mix of the goings-ons on the ATP and WTA tours and the main talking points from the general tennis community. There is a breakdown of each episode on the website, so if you’re short on time you can easily skip to the parts that interest you. Be advised there is some colourful language, so it may not be one to listen to with children around.
Tennis professional Ian Westermann has been providing tennis instruction and tips through his podcasts for nearly a decade. This may be one to listen to on the way to the court with the focus on improving your game and making you a better player. The approximately 30-minute episodes answer all types of questions from listeners including how to play left handers to how to handle tennis cheaters and drills for fixing your game.