1. Know the tennis calendar forwards and backwards. Following just Grand Slams is for wusses. You’ve got to know your nine Masters tournaments inside-out (think quick: which one is unofficially known as the fifth slam?). And then know which ATP 500 or ATP 250 tournament is taking place each week, right from Acapulco to Zagreb. (Hint: investing in an atlas might help).
2. Get intimately acquainted with Internet scoreboards and/or online feeds. If you depend on television to meet your tennis needs, you’ll never get to tennis nut territory. To follow the tournaments from Tokyoto Estoril (see above) you’ll need to a) watch choppy online feeds from said corners of the world (with Japanese/Portuguese commentary) or b) refresh the online scoreboard obsessively.
3. Reset your body clock for two-week periods during far-flung Grand Slams i.e. the Australian Open and U.S. Open. You need to be getting up at 2 a.m. to watch the five-set matches – and we’re not talking just the semis and the final either. If you’re getting enough sleep during these slams, you’re not there yet.
4. Spend far too much time on Internet forums. This is an essential and often overlooked aspect. To truly hit the zenith of tennis nut-hood, you need to be active on at least four dedicated tennis forums online, boldly defending your favourite players, trashing others, and getting down and dirty in the flame wars that result.
5. Be familiar with the names in the Top 50, or at least the Top 30 players, their quirks and their game. If your knowledge of tennis stops at ‘Nadal’ and ‘Federer’, you’re falling way short. We’re talking about knowing, for instance, that Feliciano Lopez (rank 34) is a Spaniard with pretty hair, a penchant for posing in the nude, and a surprising serve-and-volley game.
6. And finally, the true mark of a couch tennis nut is the tendency to wax eloquent on past matches/rivalries/records of the game. The further back you go and the more obscure the reference, the closer you are to attaining tennis nut nirvana. When a casual fan looks at you and goes “Who cares?” you know you’re almost there.