Tuesday, August 30, 2011

U.S. OPEN: I'M READY... ARE YOU? (by Jean Kirshenbaum)

It’s another U.S. Open and I’m ready. Are you? You say: “Whadaya mean—am I ready? Am I entered in the tournament, or something? Do I need to practice? What do I need to be ready for?”

No, no, no. Wrong, wrong, wrong. As a tennis fan, you do have to get ready. And it’s not too late.


Here’s what I did:The very first thing? Search online for the TV schedule. Then I printed out two copies, stapled the two pages together, and taped one set to the bedroom dresser that holds the TV, and the other to the living room wall unit, which holds the other TV. I do this so that I can plan my life for the next two weeks? Plan my life? There is nothing to plan, (especially when you are UTF, an unemployed tennis fan; a position I have held for too long). The Open is televised just about all day and all evening. Who has time for other plans? If you want to watch, scroll down for the schedule.

But wait, there is something else I had to do.  I had set recordings, just in case there is a match I want to see but can't  for some reason, such as  leaving home to actually play tennis. If you can’t watch the day matches, they are usually repeated at night. If you are an online tennis reader, or get email from tennis sites, be careful.  You may not want to know match results before you watch your recording. I have a deal with my friend Roseann Williams, (who has written previously for Tennis Is Tops) not to discuss any results until I know that she knows what they are. I learned the hard way, didn't I Roseann?
In fact, I have written to several online editors to ask them not to reveal results in the subject lines of their email newsletters, which I get daily. Women’s Tennis Blog has complied and now uses the generic subject line: Women’s Tennis Blog Daily Update” instead of something like “Wozniacki out, Williams upset by qualifier.” What a relief. When my friend Richard (at left, with me in 2009) was editor of tennisweek.com (now defunct), and later tennisnow, and now with tennis.com,  I implored him not to do this, but he wouldn’t. So I had to do a workaround. I color-coded any email from tennis week and tennis now in red. Any time I saw a red email when I walked toward my computer, I knew to turn around and leave the room. He now works for tennis.com, which doesn’t send out many newsletters. Nevertheless, whenever there is an email from Richard, I see red.
I engage in a few more activities to prepare for U.S. Open, which I do for all the Slams. Since, as my tennis buddies know, I generally read a lot about tennis online, including the pundits’ analyses and opinions about who’s going to win, who isn’t, how the top players might perform, and who might come from out of nowhere. The overwhelming picks this year are…drum roll…. Serena Williams (photo at left was on a practice court, 2009)  and Novak Djokovic. (I confess that my bias against him is evident with this unflattering photo below.)

Speaking of picks, you can pick ‘em all  yourself with Racket Bracket. This is an online contest sponsored by Tennis Channel, which asks you to pick the winner of every match, from first round through the final. You must submit this after the draws come out and before the matches begin, of course. ( I am the only person I know who ever does). Doesn't matter this year; it’s too late for you. You might not have bothered anyway. Picking winners for hundreds of matches is time consuming.(UTFs, of course, have the time.) And how can you possibly make a pick when the choices are qualifier A and Qualifier E? You just guess. So let’s talk more about the picks.
With Williams back on the scene after a year-long layoff due to foot injuries and clots in her lungs, many might wonder whether the former #1 is a strong contender.On the other hand, with three-time winner Kim Clijsters out because of injury, most of the pundits, as well as the odds makers, are picking Williams to win, although some are going with Maria Sharapova. Why Williams? Why not? She has won it three times (’99, ’02,’08), and her US Open match record is 52-8. Wow.  I want Serena to win, but I really think it will be some longshot further back on the track. 


Despite the fact that she lost Wimbledon this year, Williams has already won two other titles—Bank of the West Classic (Stanford, CA, 7/31) and the Rogers Cup (Toronto, 8/14). I don’t think she played her best in those tournaments-- not even close to her previous level-- but still she won, beating Marion Bartoli and Samantha Stosur. That raised her come-back ranking from 170 something to 29. There was noisy controversy about whether and how she would be seeded this year. Some felt that, given her successes, as well as the danger she can pose to the current crop of top players, she should have been seeded in the top 10. But seeding rarely goes against rankings, and some felt it wouldn't be fair to knock a player out of the top 10 seeds group. And it wouldn't be fair. However, in this case they made an exception and she is seeded 28. That means that she doesn’t risk being knocked out by a top player in the first round. And TV doesn’t risk basement-poor ratings. Well, that won’t happen. Her first-round opponent is a no-name Serbian, Bojana Jovanovski, age 20, whose career match record is 32-24. Her current rank is 54.

Enough said on this topic.

But what about the guys? Since I find the women’s tour so much more interesting (and spouse Gary does, too) I’m not going to say as much about the men. The big buzz, of course, is around #1 Novak Djokovic, who has lost just two matches this entire year (57-2) to two other likely champs, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, in addition to winning the Australian Open. And remember, Raphael Nadal won last year, and was #1 until the Djoker toppled him. Take a look at these other top 10 seeds to see who else is in the mix: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Robin Soderling, Gael Monfils, Thomas Berdych, and Nicolas Almagro. Just one American is among the top 10--Mardy Fish, seeded 8th. In case you didn’t know, Andy Roddick, who won the Open in 2003, and who was in the top 10 for as many years as Roger Federer, has been out of the top 10 for several months and is seeded just 21 this year!

What are your thoughts? Who are your picks? Are you ready yet? Leave a comment. I'll address them in my next article.
Although it's only Tuesday, I have just two days to get ready for Thursday, the day Gary and I will be at the Open. I have to check the weather, which is expected to be perfect. I have to pick out my clothes- pants, not shorts, because it's cold on the bus. And lots of pockets for money, camera and cell phone, to avoid the long wait at the security bag- check line. Those pants must go to the cleaners today! This is just personal trivia. For all the important news, go to http://www.usopen.org/  and http://www.tennis.com/



2011 US Open TV Schedule (USA)

(all times Eastern and coverage is live unless noted otherwise)


Monday, August 29

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

 
Tuesday, August 30

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2


Wednesday, August 31

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2


Thursday, September 1

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2


Friday, September 2

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2


Saturday, September 3

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round Tennis Channel


Sunday, September 4

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 Tennis Channel


Monday, September 5

11a.m.-6 p.m. Round of 16 Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Primetime Round of 16 ESPN2


Tuesday, September 6

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2


Wednesday, September 7

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Quarterfinals ESPN2


Thursday, September 8

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Quarterfinals, Mixed Doubles Final ESPN2


Friday, September 9

12:30pm.-6 p.m. Mixed’s Doubles Final/Women’s SF CBS


Saturday, September 10

12-6 p.m. Men’s SF CBS

8 p.m.-10 p.m. Women’s Final CBS


Sunday, September 11

1-3 p.m. Women’s Doubles Final ESPN2

4 p.m.- 7 p.m. Men’s Final CBS



Sunday, June 19, 2011

WHO'S ON TOP AT WIMBLEDON 2011 by Jean Kirshenbaum

In the month preceding Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, June 20, (tomorrow) the buzz among the tennis pundits focused on how Serena Williams would be seeded at the tournament this year.
Seeding at most tournaments, including the Slams, traditionally goes according to player ranking. But because she hadn’t played tennis until last week, her ranking had dropped from #1 to #25. At Wimbledon 2011, she is seeded #8. I think that bumping her up to #8 is entirely appropriate. Although she hadn’t played tour tennis for almost a year, she has won Wimbledon four times, including the 2010 tournament, when she beat Vera Zvonerava, currently ranked #3 and seeded third. Venus Williams has been out for injury as well, and had dropped to # 33. A five-time Wimbledon winner, she is seeded 24. Top seeds for the men are the usual suspects, but there is one new name in the #2 spot- Novak Djokovic.  That means that while Nadal is seeded first, Federer, the former king of Wimbledon with 6 titles, is seeded third. Keep reading if you want to know the rest of the 64 seeds.

WOMEN’S SEEDS (WTA Tour rankings in parentheses)

1 Caroline WOZNIACKI (DEN) [1]

2 Kim CLIJSTERS (BEL) [2]

3 Vera ZVONAREVA (RUS) [3]

4 Na LI (CHN) [4]

5 Victoria AZARENKA (BLR) [5]

6 Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS) [6]

7 Francesca SCHIAVONE (ITA) [7]

8 Serena WILLIAMS (USA) [8]

9 Petra KVITOVA (CZE) [9]

10 Marion BARTOLI (FRA) [10]

11 Samantha STOSUR (AUS) [11]

12 Andrea PETKOVIC (GER) [12]

13 Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS) [13]

14 Agnieszka RADWANSKA (POL) [14]

15 Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA (RUS) [15]

16 Jelena JANKOVIC (SRB) [16]

17 Julia GOERGES (GER) [17]

18 Kaia KANEPI (EST) [18]

19 Ana IVANOVIC (SRB) [19]

20 Yanina WICKMAYER (BEL) [20]

21 Shuai PENG (CHN) [21]

22 Flavia PENNETTA (ITA) [22]

23 Shahar PEER (ISR) [23]

24 Venus WILLIAMS (USA) [24]

25 Dominika CIBULKOVA (SVK) [25]

26 Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK) [26]

27 Maria KIRILENKO (RUS) [27]

28 Jarmila GAJDOSOVA (AUS) [28]

29 Ekaterina MAKAROVA (RUS) [29]

30 Roberta VINCI (ITA) [30]

31 Bethanie MATTEK-SANDS (USA) [31]

32 Lucie SAFAROVA (CZE) [32]

MEN’S SEEDS (ATP Tour rankings in parentheses)

1 Rafael NADAL (ESP) [1]

2 Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB) [2]

3 Roger FEDERER (SUI) [3]

4 Andy MURRAY (GBR) [4]

5 Robin SODERLING (SWE) [5]

6 Tomas BERDYCH (CZE) [6]

7 David FERRER (ESP) [7]

8 Andy RODDICK (USA) [8]

9 Gael MONFILS (FRA) [9]

10 Mardy FISH (USA) [10]

11 Jurgen MELZER (AUT) [11]

12 Jo-Wilfried TSONGA (FRA) [12]

13 Viktor TROICKI (SRB) [13]

14 Stanislas WAWRINKA (SUI) [14]
15 Gilles SIMON (FRA) [15]

16 Nicolas ALMAGRO (ESP) [16]

17 Richard GASQUET (FRA) [17]

18 Mikhail YOUZHNY (RUS) [18]

19 Michael LLODRA (FRA) [19]

20 Florian MAYER (GER) [20]

21 Fernando VERDASCO (ESP) [21]

22 Alexandr DOLGOPOLOV (UKR) [22]

23 Janko TIPSAREVIC (SRB) [23]

24 Juan Martin DEL POTRO (ARG) [24]

25 Juan Ignacio CHELA (ARG) [25]

26 Guillermo GARCIA-LOPEZ (ESP) [26]

27 Marin CILIC (CRO) [27]

28 David NALBANDIAN (ARG) [28]

29 Nikolay DAVYDENKO (RUS) [29]

30 Thomaz BELLUCCI (BRA) [30]

31 Milos RAONIC (CAN) [31]

32 Marcos BAGHDATIS (CYP) [32]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SEE THE FRENCH OPEN ON TV AND ONLINE [from Jean Kirshenbaum]

I just discovered that the TV schedule is out now. See it at this link or scroll down.

http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2011-05-17/7059.php
 



In the U.S., French Open broadcast rights again fall to three networks: Tennis Channel, ESPN2 and NBC.
 
Tennis Channel will carry the brunt of the coverage during the weekdays from first ball at 5am ET to noon ET.  NBC will have weekend coverage and live telecasts of both women’s and men’s finals.

If you can't watch it on TV, live streaming is available on ESPN3.com and Tennischannel.com.

Tennis Channel French Open TV Schedule (Live) (All times Eastern)

Sunday, May 22, 5 a.m.-1pm, First-Round Action


Monday, May 23, 5 a.m.-3 p.m., First-Round Action


Tuesday, May 24, 5 a.m.-Noon, First-Round Action


Wednesday, May 25, 5 a.m.-Noon, Second-Round Action


Thursday, May 26, 5 a.m.-Noon, Second-Round Action


Friday, May 27, 5 a.m.-Noon, Third-Round Action


Saturday, May 28, 5 a.m.-Noon, Third-Round Action


Sunday, May 29, 5 a.m.-Noon, Round of 16 Action


Monday, May 30, 5 a.m.-Noon, Round of 16 Action


Tuesday, May 31, 8 a.m.-Noon, Quarterfinals


Wednesday, June 1, 8 a.m.-Noon, Quarterfinals


Thursday, June 2, 5 a.m.-8 a.m., Men’s Doubles Semifinals



ESPN2 French Open TV Schedule (All times Eastern)


Sun, May 22 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action


Tue, May 24 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action


Wed, May 25 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action


Thur, May 26 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action


Fri, May 27 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Early Round Action Live & Same-day action


Mon, May 30 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Round of 16 Live & Same-day action


Tue, May 31 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action


Wed, June 1 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action


Thur, June 2 8a.m. – 1 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live



NBC French Open TV Schedule (All times Eastern)


Sat., May 28, 1:30pm-4:30pm, Third-Round Action


Sun., May 29, 3pm-6pm, Round of 16 Action


Fri., June 3, 10am-1pm, Men’s Semifinals


Sat, June 4, 9am-noon, Women’s Final


Sun., June 5, 9am-2pm, Men’s Final


(NBC Schedule subject to change)

FRENCH OPEN STARTS SUNDAY: FIND THE WEBSITE HERE. WATCH FOR FUTURE NEWS

I can hardly believe it! The French Open begins in just 5 days.
I haven’t written for Tennis Is Tops since the US Open last September, and that was 8 months ago.
 I can’t explain the long layoff.  Maybe I just OD’d on writing about tennis. It’s not that I haven’t followed it, as I always do. I just wasn’t inspired to say anything, although I have a couple of articles in draft that I never published. One is from the Australian Open, and I may yet post it. Even if the AO is old news, some amusing things happened this year that are worth savoring.
So here it is…the French Open 2011. Find out what you want to know. I'll post the TV schedule when it's out.

http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY…THE U.S. OPEN BEGINS MONDAY


Dear Tennis Is Tops Readers: This is my invitation to you to follow the the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday, August 30, and ends on September 12.

If you can’t be in New York, you can at least follow the Open  here, with me, on Tennis Is Tops, or watch it on TV, if you have the time or the interest. I have both. I will also be at the Open on Saturday, September 5, thanks to my cousin Alex Goldberg,(see his photo at the end of this article) who has generously given us free tickets for the day session. We have in previous years taken a one day bus trip. We don’t know yet where we will be sitting, but it will be somewhere here in Ashe Stadium, which has a seating capacity of nearly 23,000, plus luxury suites. We’ll know where we will sit when Alex picks up the tickets at will-call. Our bus trip seats have always been nosebleed seats at the top of the stadium (yellow). But we could still see quite well.

Since you can't go with us, you can always see the live scoring on the website, www.usopen.org. Below is the television schedule, or you can see it at this link. www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-08-23/5058.php.



As in the past, I will be contributing articles to Tennisnow.com, and I will also post them here. http://www.tennisnow.com/


As usual, the early rounds will be televised by ESPN2, and Tennis Channel; CBS handles all the finals.


(all times Eastern and coverage is live unless noted otherwise)


Thursday, August 26

Noon-1 p.m. Draw Announcement Show ESPN2


Sunday, August 29

Noon-1:30 p.m. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day CBS (tape)

Monday, August 30

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Tuesday, August 31
11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*


7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

 
Wednesday, September 1

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Thursday, September 2

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Early Round Action ESPN2

Friday, September 3

11a.m.-7 p.m. Early Round Action Tennis Channel*

1-7 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2

Saturday, September 4

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round Tennis Channel

Sunday, September 5

11a.m.-6 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 CBS

7-11 p.m. Third Round/Round of 16 Tennis Channel

Monday, September 6

11a.m.-6 p.m. Round of 16 Round CBS

7-11 p.m. Primetime Round of 16 ESPN2

Tuesday, September 7

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

Wednesday, September 8

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Quarterfinals ESPN2

Thursday, September 9

11a.m.-7 p.m. Tennis Channel**

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals ESPN2

7-11 p.m. Primetime Men’s Quarterfinals, Mixed Doubles Final ESPN2

Friday, September 10

12:30pm.-6 p.m. Mixed’s Doubles Final/Women’s SF CBS
Saturday, September 11

12-6 p.m. Men’s SF CBS

8 p.m.-10 p.m. Women’s Final CBS

Sunday, September 12

1-3 p.m. Women’s Doubles Final ESPN2

4 p.m.- 7 p.m. Men’s Final CBS




Here's Alex...(Thank you for the tickets, cuz.)
(By the way, you can read my articles about last year's Open by clicking on Tennis Week Articles link at left)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Confessions of a Tennis Fan—I May Be A Traitor

(ed. note- This article was written for  www.tennisnow.com; this is the direct link: 
http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Featured-News/Confessions-of-a-Tennis-Fan—I-May-Be-A-Traitor.aspx)


August 5, 2010) Philadelphia, PA—The 90 degree plus temperatures that have plagued the Northeast have kept me off the courts for weeks. The most exercise I’m getting is twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the US Open. And, just as Dinara Safina can’t decide between tennis and chocolate in her 2009 It Must Be Love ad — seated in a chair, she expresses such ambivalence that it makes you feel sad: "Tennis, chocolate cake, tennis, chocolate cake, Tennis!" — I am engaged in a similar summer conflict.



Picture me in a chair, racket in my right hand, baseball bat in my left. I look from one to the other and think to myself:


Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball?



Although, as a good tennis junkie would, I am tuning into Tennis Channel to watch US Open Series tournaments. As you can tell, my loyalties are divided. On any given night, events in these two sports are televised at the same time. The Phillies home games typically begin at 7 p.m. EST, and sometimes 9 or 9:30 p.m. for away games in the Central or Pacific time zones. Tennis matches televised by either ESPN2 or Tennis Channel often coincide with those timeframes. So, I ask you:
Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball?



Most die-hard tennis fans like me would wonder, what kind of conflict is she talking about? It’s tennis, hands down. You just wouldn’t understand. This writer’s hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies, has been the National League champion for two years in a row—2008 and 2009, and won the World Series in 2008. In 2010 they held first place for most of May, and then slumped in June, and are now once again nipping at the heels of the NL’s first-place Atlanta Braves. I ask you: How can I abandon such a successful hometown team? Yankees fans, would you? Or fans of all those other first-place teams in their divisions—the Rays, Braves, Astros, Reds, Padres and Cubs—would you?


Let me give you some perspective about me and baseball. I had a crush on several boys who played in Little League and, since the field was just a few blocks from my house, I went to a lot of those games Then, in fourth grade, I played center field during the recess games on the school playground. Once, when attempting to catch a fly ball, it landed hard on my right cheek instead of in my glove. (Now you know why I chose tennis. Baseball, however, might have been a better choice since, eight years ago a tennis ball hit me in the neck, which several months later led to a stroke.) In the days of Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn, I watched Phillies games on TV with my mother (not my father). She even took me to Connie Mack Stadium a couple of times. I wore a white shirt, a red skirt, and carried a red and white Phillies flag. Baseball caps didn’t look good on me and still don’t. A tennis headband together with a visor and sunglasses, however, look okay.


On the other hand, when I was 7 I learned to swing a racket at summer camp. My first boyfriend taught me to play. Many years later he became the coach of a tour player. (Does anyone here remember Richey Reneberg? yellow shirt)


So by now your eyes are glazing over. All this talk of baseball is boring. Lady, you say, what’s with you? Don’t you know that this website is about tennis? Okay, let me fill you in on a dirty little secret. I know for a fact that I’m not the only fan at Tennis Now who is afflicted with a baseball-tennis conflict. Out of loyalty, I won’t out him. (He knows who he is and he’d better not delete this.) Here’s a hint: he’s a Mets fan. Eeeuuuww. 

Never mind. Always a tennis fan first and foremost, I have more than once, like my college roommate, Michelle Jordan, arranged my life around the majors. (I never did this for baseball, you should know.) And I am usually glued to the tube for Masters 1000 and WTA Premier events. Additionally, just to prove my point, for the past few weeks I have been loyal to the US Open series events, with just a few time outs for the ball games. I’ll be there in front of the TV for the weekend’s Legg Mason and San Diego semis and finals.

But I feel sooooooo guilty.

Last week I did the unforgivable. I did forego some of the Farmers Classic matches for a couple of Phillies games. What a waste of good tennis time. The Fightin’ Phils were swept by the Nationals, a third-rate team that is 14 games out of first place.

But I have figured it out. I can usually resolve the conflict with mixed media. Here’s what I mean by that: sometimes I watch live scores on my laptop while watching the ball game. Or I listen to the ball game on the radio and watch tennis on television. Who says you can’t have it all?

Ridiculous? No. It’s perfectly rational—the best of both worlds for me. There is one other option. Baseball games encore when the live game is over, and the next day, too. Tennis Channel repeats matches several times. Call me petulant. If it’s too hot for me to play tennis, I want to watch ballgames and tennis matches in the here and now. I don’t want to watch them stale, although I could if I wanted to. And I don’t. (Sports fans, this should be the worst problem I ever have.)

Summer will soon be coming to an end. But am I back where I started?

Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball? Tennis? Baseball?

 Can the crack of a bat ever compare to the sweet pop of a Roddick serve or the solid thwack of a Nadal forehand?


 No way.


Relief is on its way, all too soon. In early September, when the Open has come and gone, I will be happy to toss over my conflict to the football fans, who can wage their own internal baseball-football battle.

Me? I wouldn’t get near the Eagles.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

WORLD TEAM TENNIS: PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS BEAT THE NY BUZZ

(I was assigned to cover this Philadelphia Freedoms Team Tennis event by Richard Pagliaro, editor of TennisNow.com; thus, as contributing writer, I didn't have to pay to get in. You can see another version of this article on website: http://www.tennisnow.com/News/Featured-News/The-Buzz-Is-About-Philadelphia-Freedoms.aspx)
Philadelphia is often viewed as a step sister to New York, but its Philadelphia Freedoms had no trouble prevailing over the New York Buzz, 24-17, in their recent World Team Tennis encounter (July 21)at suburban Villanova University.

Martina Hingis was the Marquee player, and while her game may have had some bubbles on Monday against the New York Sportimes, by Wednesday this champagne champ came out somewhat flat and looked more like vin ordinaire.

The player with the fizz was the 19 year old Thai player Noppawan “Nok” Lertcheewakarn, who in women’s singles defeated Hingis 5-3. Hingis did win her mixed doubles match with Scoville Jenkins, 5-4, against the Freedoms team of Courtney Nagle and Prakash Amritraj. But in women’s doubles, she and partner Sarah Borwell lost 5-2 to the Freedoms team of Nok and Courtney Nagle. But Hingis is Hingis, so even with a defeat by a player ranked only 294, there is no need to Thai won on!


The crowd, which filled only about half the indoor stadium, the Pavilion, was there to see Hingis, (always this writer’s favorite player )who is still great, but didn’t look the Hingis of old.

Not on this particular night. Her game clearly had some rough edges and still lacks a sparkling serve, which averaged about 80 mph, but was bookended by 2 serves of 103 and 101mph. None of this should be surprising since she is not on the tour playing top players, and because she turns 30 next month--one of the reasons she cited on Wednesday for not returning to WTA tour tennis.

On the other hand, she said “It was great to be back at Wimbledon,” where she played an invitational doubles match with Anna Kournikova.(above) She acknowledged that continued doubles at the tour-level is not out of the question, “But I still have to get a partner.” She does have some exhibitions ahead of her. The unanswered question is whether she would want to play during the indoor season. Even so, she is glad to be on the Buzz team. While her passion for horses is well known, they are apparently in the stable for now. About returning to tennis, she had this to say: “Sports keep you fresh.” Here’s the comment I found most interesting:

“In the past few months I’ve played as much tennis as in the last three years.”

In reference to the current state of women’s tennis, now dominated by strong, tall women (see just how tall in Roseann Williams article, The Vertically Challenged Player, in the April archive), she responded this way to the question of whether she has to develop new strategies since she is a smaller player:

 “There are still some smaller players- Schiavone ( with the trophy)is small (nearly 5'6")and Stosur (outstretched) is not tall (nearly 5'7") Who would have thought 10 years ago that schiavone would win the French Open? On the slower playing surfaces the smaller players still have a chance. And on the faster surfaces, the smaller players can still do it.”
So let’s talk more about short. At just 5’ 6” and 132 lbs., (Hingis is taller by an inch) Noppawan (at left), who plays two handed on both sides, is a rock-solid fireplug whose game as is as solid as her muscular compact build. And it was a lot of fun to watch her hurl so much energy and precision at her opponents.

 Hingis sometimes had a tough time returning many of her shots, not because they were hit that hard, but because they came back fast and well placed. The slow pace of the Hingis serves was also an advantage for Lertcheewakarn, who with Courtney Nagle again defeated Hingis and partner Sarah Borwell 5-2 in women’s doubles.

Doubtless, however, it's a struggle to pronounce her name;  thankfully, she has the nickname Nok. But with her good game and strong confidence, Lertcheewakarn, currently ranked 294, could be a player to watch and a name we may get to know better. And, if someday she starts “Nok”ing ‘em dead, her tongue twister name will be a lot less troublesome.

She has an impressive record as a junior, and her junior highlights include one Grand Slam singles title (2009 Wimbledon) and three Grand Slam doubles titles, as well as the #1 ITF juniors ranking in 2008..She clearly is beginning to show some promise. When asked whether she is playing on the main tour, she is quick to let you know that as a wild card in the 2010 Malaysian Open, she achieved a first-round, straight sets victory over Ksenia Pervak-- her first-ever WTA main draw win. She is happy with the way her career is going, “but I need to improve a lot,” said this charming young player from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

But back to Hingis: When asked about her "pick” for the U.S. Open (August 30-September 12), she was coy, and exclaimed diplomatically, “I have no idea!”

 A few other notes about this event:

• I was sitting at the media table, which is practically on the court. I was behind a lines person so I was able to see her line calls. One of them was dead wrong. The ball was clearly out and she didn’t call it. No wonder John McEnroe got so furious with calls and made a spectacle of himself. In retrospect, that may not have been such a bad thing. In part, it was his tirades ultimately led to the use of video replay challenges. A really awful call against Serena Williams  cost her the quarter final match at the 2004 U.S. Open . I saw it on TV; the ball was about 2 feet inside the court, but was called out by an overrule from the umpire. This was the last straw and pushed professional tennis even further toward instant video replay.


• It can be dangerous for people to sit close to the court. Many “foul balls” are hit hard out of the court and into the stands and could bop a spectator in the head or chest.


• Hingis was interviewed by a WTT official at on open area in a section of the floor roped off for a private party. She could hardly be heard, which was disappointing.


• A ball boy about 7 years old was behind Hingis on her side of the court. She was very polite and sweet to him when she motioned to him to give her a ball for her serve. She was more businesslike when an adult was behind her.

• They just couldn’t get the crowd excited and to cheer on the Freedoms. Cheering and lively music are supposed to be a part of World Team Tennis matches. Maybe over time Freedoms fans will become less inhibited.


The new venue (at left; all WTT courts are multi-colored)  is something unusual for the Freedoms this year. They are now playing at an indoor facility that has air conditioning.

 It was a good time of the year to make the switch since area temperatures have climbed into the 90s for 27 days in 2010. For the past two seasons, Freedoms matches were played in a parking lot at the King of Prussia Mall, a highly congested and inhospitable location. Before that, the team’s home was at Cabrini College, an upscale Main Line location in Radnor, Pa. The Freedoms apparently grew out of Cabrini, which could no longer accommodate a growing fan base, went shopping and ended up at the mall.


As for the Villanova location, some were skeptical about whether indoor tennis during the outdoor season would draw spectators and attendance and it has been uneven. Not unexpectedly, the July 15 match with Andy Roddick was sold out, but the July 9 event with Ashley Harkleroad was sparsely attended. This is in stark contrast to matches in New York, which seem to field more marquee players. A case in point was the July 19 Sportimes-Buzz match, which included John McEnroe, Kim Clijsters, and Martina Hingis.

 

However, given the comfort and size of the Pavilion (which does hosts some exhibition matches during the winter) it appears that the switch was a very smart decision, at least for this year. How many people would have come out in 90 degree heat? Billie Jean King, who owns the Freedoms, has said that WTT intends to stick with the Pavilion, which should be heartening to all those who attend WTT matches there.

That crowd needs to grow. And from the players’ standpoint fans need to be less subdued, which, in contrast to New York, is the nature of a Philadelphia crowd. The low-key atmosphere prompted Freedoms the relatively reserved Prakash Amritraj to address the Freedoms fans on his side of the court:

“Let’s get a little noise in here! The most noise he got was the noise of victory when he defeated the towering 6’7” Alex Domijan, 5-3 in singles, and with his partner Ramon Delgado, in his 5-4 win over the Buzz duo of Alex Domijan\Scoville Jenkins.

Villanova is just a few miles from the City of Brotherly love, but the N.Y.Buzz, which are in last place and one behind the Freedoms in the WTT standings, got no love from their stepsister city. The results:


PHILADELPHIA FREEDOMS def. New York Buzz 24-17
• Men’s Singles – Prakash Amritraj (Freedoms) def. Alex Domijan (Buzz) 5-3


• Women’s Singles – Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (Freedoms) def. Martina Hingis (Buzz) 5-3


• Mixed Doubles – Martina Hingis\Scoville Jenkins (Buzz) def. Courtney Nagle\Prakash Amritraj (Freedoms) 5-4


• Women’s Doubles – Noppawan Lertcheewakarn\Courtney Nagle (Freedoms) def. Sarah Borwell\Martina Hingis (Buzz) 5-2


• Men’s Doubles – Prakash Amritraj\Ramon Delgado (Freedoms) def. Alex Domijan\Scoville Jenkins (Buzz) 5-4