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Thursday, April 5, 2007
Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Member

(This article is re-printed from the very latest issue of the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club Newsletter for those of you who aren't fortunate enough to be on their mailing list and just can’t get enough information about your favorite regular Thursday Chapel Hill Herald columnist.)

Hollow Rock Member Spotlight

Starting (and perhaps ending) with this issue, the Hollow Rock Newsletter (HRN, to those in the know) will feature a Member Spotlight, bringing out from the recesses of the unlit backcourts a member who all the other members would or should have some reason to know more about. This might be a member with notable recent accomplishments on the courts or off, or a person with an interesting life story, or maybe one with a checkered criminal past -- somebody we club members may all want to keep our collective eyes and ears on. (I was thinking here of extremely interim club manager Terry O'Culligan or board member in perpetuity Terry O'Regan but I can't remember which. Perhaps I will clear this up in a future issue. Perhaps not.)

Rather than beginning the Member Spotlight with the obvious and hackneyed "member with another national championship" or "up and coming junior we may be seeing at Wimbledon in five or six years," we will begin (and perhaps end) our series with Hollow Rock's most mediocre tennis member. I know a lot of you are getting excited at this point in anticipation of a feature about you; sorry, this story features the "most mediocre member," not just any ordinary player. Mediocrity, in its technical sense, is just as rare as excellence. Just as only one player can be the "best in the world" (Roger Federer), only one member can be Hollow Rock's "most mediocre" (Gary Gaddy). Again, I know many of you, male and female tennis players alike, are saying, "Wait, I'm every bit as bad as Gaddy. How come I'm not Hollow Rock's Most Mediocre Member?"

Let me go through this slowly and carefully, so those of you who are of sub-mediocre intellect or education can understand. People toss the word mediocre around like it means bad. It doesn't. Look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls. Mediocre means average, in the middle. Its etymology is from the French médiocre, which is from Latin mediocris, meaning "midway up a mountain." Notice the word midway, not at the bottom. Remember your bell-shaped curve from college psychology or statistics? Mediocrity is the high point on the curve. OK, that's confusing. Just believe me, it means average.

In any case, the ultimate in mediocrity means in the middle in every respect. Mediocre forehand, average backhand, middling serve, ordinary volley: this is Gaddy. The only thing that would make Gaddy any more mediocre would be if his given name was Norm. (When he went through elementary school, however, the most popular name at the time was Gary, which is to say, Gary was the modal, or average, name.)

But more than the elementary mediocrity of his individual skills, his overall tennis game is mediocre. Regardless what level the group he's playing with, how good his partner, how bad his opponents, whether it's with men, women or children, competitive or social, his chance of winning: 50%. Every time, all the time. Although he doesn't keep match detailed records on each of his matches like some of our members (you know who you are), his lifetime career winning percentage is 50%. His lifetime first serve percentage is 50%. Likelihood that any given volley will land in or out? 50%. Probability that an overhead will hit the fence? 50%. You get the picture.

A few miscellaneous facts on Hollow Rock's médiocrité extrodinaire: USTA rating 3.5 (the most common rating for men or women), height 5'9" (the average height for American men), weight 178 lbs. (the average weight for American men), education Ph.D. (the average educational attainment for an adult Hollow Rock member), current USTA national ranking (335,112 out of 670,224 USTA members). Other informative statistics: Gaddy has two cats, two above-average natural children, two above-average stepchildren and one wife who is smarter than he is -- as is true for the average married Hollow Rock male.

Next issue (if there is a next issue): A statistical analysis of why our doubles partners are always losing more points, games, sets and matches than we do.


Gary D. Gaddy really is a member of the Hollow Rock Racquet and Swim Club, which is conveniently located on the Durham/Orange county line, halfway between Duke and UNC. If you come by on any given day you can easily recognize him: he’s the one in tennis-appropriate attire with a tennis racquet in his dominant right hand.

A prettied-up version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, Thursday April 5, 2007.  Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 10:07 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2007 10:18 AM EDT
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