Sports News

Game, set and sorry, what was that?

LONDON (Reuters) - The Oscar for most garbled syntax goes to ... Serena Williams (Applause).

The Oscar for wittiest press conference performance goes to ... Andy Roddick (Laughter).

Jaime Morrocco has no hesitation in picking out his winners as the lightning-fast stenographer who captures post-match pearls from star players at Wimbledon press conferences.

By the time reporters get back upstairs to write their stories, ASAP Sports has zipped out the transcript for them.

They roll up thick and fast to talk. For Morrocco and his team, their nightmare day is Monday when all the fourth round matches for both men and women are played on the same day.

Who then makes his head explode?

It is a close-run contest between Belgian Kim Clijsters and American James Blake when it comes to speedy delivery.

“James Blake has been the bane of our life for many years,” he laughingly admitted. “Kim Clijsters is lightning fast but she has such a perfect cadence that she is not that difficult ... She gets close to 300 words a minute.”

But ASAP has superb software with audio to back up his flashing fingers. The keyboard is a phonetic form of shorthand. One key can stand for a letter. You strike syllable by syllable. Words like Wimbledon are taken down as WIB in shorthand.

ASAP, based in New York, covers every sport from golf to American Football, from baseball to tennis, working under the slogan “When all is said We’re done.”

The transcripts are truly verbatim.

“Andy Murray in a 15-20 minute interview had 87 ‘You Knows.’ Maria Sharapova is a ‘You know’ girl and Laura Robson starts almost every sentence with an Um.”

One of the trickiest assignments is the Stanley Cup. “You have East European (ice) hockey players. It is almost impossible to understand them. It is like interviewing 30 Glaswegians.”

Asked to reflect his Oscars, Serena gets the nod for twisted grammar. “Probably so, I think you’re right,” he said.

Performancewise, Roddick makes him laugh.

“Andy is fantastic. He is the wittiest except when he loses in a big match,” Morrocco said. “He is smart, he almost has a British sense of humour and British wit which is my favorite.”

Listening to all these words pouring out every day must surely haunt Morrocco and his fellow workers in their sleep.

“The dreams we tend to have is that we are taking things in long hand with a piece of paper. Consistently stenographers have this dream where they are trying to keep up,” he said. “That is the only nightmare I get.”