Sunday, May 30, 2010

DROP SHOT: WHEN TENNIS IS JUST NOT YOUR THING

  When does an errand top tennis? For me? NEVER!

(Editor’s note-When I first started Tennis Is Tops, I created a segment called Drop Shots. This segment is intended to be made up of brief tidbits and nuggets about anything tennis-related that strikes me as interesting or amusing. This is only the second installment, but there will be more to come.)


My friend Pat and I maintain a friendship via email. The other day I signed off so that I could watch the French Open, which was on NBC. It was Justine Henin (left) vs.Maria Sharapova--(right) a big deal match.

I said, “You can watch it with me.” Pat's reply was disappointing but not surprising:
"I did watch the tennis match from about 2:35-2:37 pm.

It went something like this: girl hits ball over net. Ball returned. Repeat. Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat. Repeat.Then I had to leave to go run an errand. [Where did she go-to the post office? No errand should ever interrupt watching a hot tennis match] What happened after that?"
P
This was my reply:
“One of them won the match. The other lost. It starts again tomorrow, but with two different players.”

As any tennis fan (not you, Pat) would expect, Henin won the match: 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. But Pat doesn’t care. Why should she? Especially when an errand beckons. Or maybe she fibbed and is just a net potato who chose to watch the news on CNN.




Thursday, May 27, 2010

WHO WILL WIN THE FRENCH OPEN?

Please take this survey and pick your winners, male and female. It doesn't take long to do it. I'll report the results in a few days.

                   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XNSDXJ8


            

DRESSED TO KILL: YOU CAN SEE THE CONTROVERSIAL VENUS WILLIAMS DRESS HERE.

Eeuuww La La! Need I say more?

Venus Williams at the French Open

Monday, May 24, 2010

YOU CAN NOW SUBSCRIBE TO TENNIS IS TOPS!




If you or anyone you know would like to subscribe to Tennis Is Tops, there is a subscribe link at the very bottom of the page. I hope that you enjoy this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

OPEN WATCH: DAY ONE


                 So who needs tennis channel?

If you can't be there,(and you probably can't) did you know that you can follow the French Open without Tennis Channel? When TC signs off at noon, ESPN2 picks it up almost every afternoon from noon-6 p.m. And, if you have Direct TV, you can watch 6 screens at once on the Versus channel. Also, remember that we are fortunate to be living in the age of computer technology. In addition to televising the Open, Tennis Channel’s own website is showing streaming video of some of the matches.
And  http://www.espn3.com/  (which apparently has some kind of deal with Comcast) seems to have the best online streaming video. You can watch it live, full screen, although the resolution is poor and the image is occasionally pixilated.



You can always see live scoring on http://www.rolandgarros.com/ ,where
you can catch up on scores for several matches in real time, compared to the two-game delay on Tennis Channel. Now why is that? Perhaps it’s the result of breaks for commercials.

Oh, who has time for all of this anyway?! Is it a waste of a gray day that rained out my morning match? I don’t think so. Watching tennis or playing tennis? Either way is okay by me. Tennis writing—even better.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

FRENCH OPEN PART THREE


You can get all the information you want here           http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

This is a link to the first round match ups. Anyone playing the 32 seeded players barely has a chance. But there could be some upsets, which makes it worthwhile to pay attention. The real upsets will occur when the seeds start to play each other.
http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/players/index.html#Men



Can’t afford to go? Don’t have time? Not to worry. You can watch live scoring from your computer at work, or from wherever you happen to be. Here’s a link:
www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/index.html


Richard with me at the 2009 US Open
For general news and features, go to the sites edited  by my buddy, Richard Pagliaro:
                  www.tennisnow.com
                  www.10sballs.com


 
               (The television schedule was posted in previous article)

Friday, May 21, 2010

CLIJSTERS, HENIN—THEY HAVE COME BACK, BUT WHY DID THEY LEAVE?

How quickly we forget…



Memories can be short. Because there are many people who record all kinds of statistics regarding players and matches, tennis history is generally accurate. Perhaps not as good as the meticulous but ridiculous recordkeeping in baseball (which probably records tee shirt colors of players who caught fly balls in Connie Mack Stadium in 1954). Despite the tennis data bank, memories in tennis can still fall short. Such is the case with last year’s comeback of Kim Clijsters, who returned to the WTA tour in the summer of 2009.


And what comeback it has been! She has won three tournaments, including the 2009 US Open, the Brisbane, Australia International in September, 2009, and the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne. FL March of this year. No one ever mentions one of the important reasons that she left the tour at just age 22. What they fail to remember is that when she was 20, she had announced it in advance. She had said openly many times that she it was her plan to retire at age 22. Why? Because her body was taking a beating and she didn’t want to live through more injuries. She said this long before she explained that she wanted to get married and have a child. So there should have been no surprise here. She simply kept her word.


In the meantime, she married US basketball player Brian Lynch in 2007, and had daughter Jada in February of 2008. And guess what! She is now suffering from an injury suffered in Fed Cup play -- a muscle tear on the inside of her left foot. This injury has forced her to withdraw from the 2010 French Open, where she is a two-time finalist. Because of this injury she also withdrew from the Italian Open, which was won by Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez earlier this month. And she didn’t play in the Madrid Open, either.

My point is this: regardless of her more current injuries, she had planned to retire all along because tennis was beating her up her body. She gave injuries as the reason – her wrists. No one mentions that fact now that she’s back on the women’s tour. Here is how the comeback was reported a few years ago by Associated Press, which offered this incomplete background information in its story:
“Clijsters, who retired in May 2007, to get married and start a family, announced her comeback at the tennis facility where she has been practicing. She plans to enter the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31 -- her first competition at Flushing Meadows since winning her only Grand Slam singles championship there in 2005.”

Not exactly so. The AP-- and Kim herself-- neglected to remind the tennis world at that time that the reason she gave in 2003--when she was just 20--was injuries. In 2006 she announced her engagement to Lynch and they married in 2007. Before Lynch, she had announced her engagement -- in December 2003-- to Australian player Lleyton Hewitt. But their relationship ended in October 2004. Aalthough at the time of her retirement she said the reason was to start a family, no one in the media mentioned that she had previously announced that she was planning to retire at age 22, which would have been in 2005! It’s unlikely that either Hewitt or Lynch was in the picture at that point. BBC Sport put it this way:

“...But a series of injuries prompted her to retire aged just 23 in May 2007, with a second-round defeat by qualifier Julia Vakulenko at the J&S Cup proving the final straw. She has since married American basketball player Brian Lynch and gave birth to daughter Jada Elly in February 2008.”

So she now has the family she wanted but she is not now injury free. She recently withdrew from the French Open because of a left foot injury. When she first stated anticipating retiring at age 22, her wrist injuries were the problem. Now, will her current foot problem—and her family—start her to thinking again about whether being back on the WTA tour is worth it? No one knows and she probably wouldn’t ever say, and probably doesn’t know yet herself. This is simply my personal speculation. And with so much success—3 titles in just 6 months!—maybe she’ll be able to push all that aside and continue her dedication and commitment for years to come. She’s now 27 years old. There likely aren’t that many years ahead of her before it will be “safe” and acceptable for her to retire again without surprise from her fans and the tennis world. Dismay, yes, but sheer shock? No. On the other hand, she could choose to retire again before then to have another child and save her body. Who could blame her?


There have been other notable comebacks:

Tennis’ “Date” with a different Kim—Some might say that Kim Date Krumm, is THE spectacular comeback player – at age 39! Her return to the tour after 12 years of retirement (encouraged by her husband, race car driver Michael Krumm) has been way under the radar, even though she won the Korea Open last September, just one day before her 39th birthday. Kim’s new-found light has been shining brightly at the French Open, where she blinded Dinara Safina into 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 first-round defeat.

Lindsay Davenport retired in 2006 to have a family, but there was little shock and fanfare. She had married John Leach in 2003, and in 2007 her son, Jagger, was born. It was just 6 weeks later that she was back on the tour. Now that’s a comeback! She won several lesser tournaments. Then we didn’t see her for a while. She left the court again when she gave birth to a baby girl, Lauren Andrus, on June 27, 2009. She hasn’t broken ties with tennis, however. She is frequently a commentator on Tennis Channel, and a pretty good one at that.


Jennifer Capriati returned to tennis after taking a break in 1993. After several years of personal troubles, including shoplifting and drug abuse, she came back in November of 1994, a return to the tour lasted just one match, which she lost. Following that perplexing incident, Capriati went on a sabbatical of 15 months and did not play on the tour at all in 1995. It was not until May of 1999, that Capriati would finally win her first tournament in six years. Due to injury she has not played on the tour since 2004, when she played her last match in Philadelphia.
Monica Seles: Who can forget the comeback of Monica Seles? In my opinion Seles would have been THE greatest female player of all time, had she not been stabbed in the back at a tournament in Hamburg, Germany, by a nut who wanted her rival, Steffi Graf, to claim the #1 ranking. And that she did, for many years to come. Seles was robbed, but she was courageous. After overcoming a debilitating emotional state, Seles returned in August, 1995, and just five months later won her fourth Australian Open. Foot injuries and weight gain slowed her comeback pace and eventually she accepted the fact that she could no longer be as competitive as she wanted to be and retired in 2008. (from her book, Getting a Grip) She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.

Martina Hingis: Hingis-- one of my favorite players next to Seles, Ana Ivanovic, and Serena Williams-- left the tour temporarily in 2003, because of ankle injuries; she came back in 2006. Then, in 2007, she was what I call “driven out of tennis” after testing positive for cocaine use during the 2007 Championships at Wimbledon. She denied this vehemently but was suspended for two years. That was the end of the road for competing on the women’s tour. But I was thrilled to learn that this summer she will be playing Team Tennis, which includes a stop in Philadelphia for matches to be played at Villanova. I doubt this is a precursor to a return to the women’s tour since she will be 30 in September.

Martina Navratilova: She retired in 1994 at 48 and came back in 2003 at age 47. She has continued to collect titles in women’s and mixed doubles to this date – at age 54!. This year Martina Navratilova will team with Jana Novotna (left) at the French Open, where the two will play in senior doubles competition.

Justine Henin: To me, Henin-- queen of “Never say Never land.”-- is the most puzzling comeback of all. It was only 2 years ago in May of 2008, that Henin, ranked #1 at the time, shocked the tennis world when she announced she was retiring – just one month before the French Open, which she had won three years in a row (2005-2007). Her reasons? She was mentally and emotionally drained, her body couldn’t take it, and she wanted to do something else with her life. (By the way, Henin’s retirement left the road open for a 2008 French Open victory by the newcomer, Ana Ivanovic, who shot up to #1, and who has faltered ever since, with a current ranking of just 41.)
At the time of her retirement, Henin said during a news conference:” I realized that I was at the end of the road. I lived through it all, I had given it all.”

 
No, she would never come back. She was done with tennis. Done, done, done.

Well, we all remember that, right?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FRENCH OPEN-PART 2

Bonjour Once More!


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

After I published the French Open article, I realized there were some things I left out. I promised to find out what the pundits are saying about who will win the French Open.This ESPN online site says some dark horses may have their day in the French Open court:


www.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/blog/_/name/espntennis/id/5195227/who-surprise-us-roland-garros

 It’s an article by Ravi Ubha, whom I have never heard of, despite the fact that I regularly read this ESPN site. Briefly, although he cites Nadal as the favorite, he notes these dark horses for the men’s tournaments: David Ferrer of Spain, Nicolas Almagro, also of Spain, and a few so dark, you can’t even see them. On the women’s side, he mentions the winners of the two previous tournaments: Another Spaniard, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who won the Italian Open; and Aravane Rezai, of France, who won the Madrid Open last Sunday.


By the way, it's important to know that some of the big names in tennis won't be playing. Kim Clijsters has a foot injury. Other withdrawals announced by the French Tennis Federation include the 2009 men's U.S. Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro, sixth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake of the United States, and David Nalbandian of Argentina.

Not many other sports writers have yet jumped into the predictions pool. I’m most interested to hear what  the legitimate know-it-all Nick Bollettieri has to say. During the grand slam tournaments he makes his picks round by round. He’s not always right but he does a pretty good job.

We can all make our own picks on Racket Bracket, which begins when the draws come out. I’ll send you those dates. I'm not ready to make mine yet.

In the meantime, before I posted the television schedule, I performed my grand slam schedule ritual. I printed out the schedule (it’s usually 2 pages) made a second copy, and taped one to the TV in my living room, and one to the TV in my bedroom. Those of you who know me well are familiar with this exotic (and lazy?) behavior. With the schedule so available to me, I don’t have to check the listings day by day.

These sites also show online scoring and match results:

www.tennisnow.com.
http://www.tennisbetsite.com/ (despite it’s URL, it’s not a betting site)
http://www.cbssports.com/tennis?tag=fastFacts.tennis;Tennis

FRENCH OPEN TV SCHEDULE


It's Almost Here...



The French Open, the next major, begins on Sunday, May 23. Nearly all the matches will be aired on Tennis Channel, but you can catch some of them on ESPN2, although you are likely to be at work at those times. On weekends the hot matches will be broadcast on NBC.  If you can't see the matches, you can read about them online, or see live scores, at the French Open web site: www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/index.html

Roger Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova (left) won it last year. Now that she's back, will Justine Henin, the French Open queen, reclaim the title for the fifth time? I, for one, don't think so. I'll scout around to see what the pundits think.


Sunday, May 23 (EST)


5:00 AM French Open : 1st Round Day 1 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : 1st Round Day 1 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2HD


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Monday, May 24 (EST)


5:00 AM French Open : 1st Round Day 2 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


3:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Tuesday, May 25 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010- broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : 1st Round Day 3 (LIVE)- broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM French Open : 1st Round Day 3 (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


5:00 AM French Open : 1st Round Day 3 (LIVE)- broadcast in HD – ESPN3.com


5:00 AM French Open : 1st Round Day 3 (LIVE)- broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010- broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010- broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Wednesday, May 26 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : 2nd Round Day 4 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : 2nd Round Day 4 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM French Open : 2nd Round Day 4 (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Thursday, May 27 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : 2nd Round Day 5 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : 2nd Round Day 5 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM French Open : 2nd Round Day 5 (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Friday, May 28 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : 3rd Round Day 6 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : 3rd Round Day 6 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM French Open : 3rd Round Day 6 (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Saturday, May 29 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : 3rd Round Day 7 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


*TBD. LIVE SATURDAY BROADCAST WILL BE SWITCHED OVER TO NBC. Check your local listings.


3:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Sunday, May 30 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : Round of 16 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


*TBD. LIVE SUNDAY BROADCAST WILL BE SWITCHED OVER TO NBC. Check your local listings.


3:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Monday, May 31 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : Round of 16 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : Round of 16 (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM French Open : Round of 16 (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Tuesday, June 1 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


8:00 AM French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


12:00 PM French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM – French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Wednesday, June 2 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


8:00 AM French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


8:00 AM French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


12:00 PM – 3:00 PM – French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Thursday, June 3 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : Men’s Doubles Semifinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


8:00 AM French Open : Men’s Doubles Semifinals (LIVE) – broadcast in HD – ESPN2, ESPN2 HD


8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – French Open : M/W Quarterfinals (LIVE) – ESPN Deportes


1:00 PM French Open : Women’s Semifinals – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


6:30 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


10:00 PM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Friday, June 4 (EST)


1:30 AM French Open Tonight 2010 – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


5:00 AM French Open : Women’s Semifinals – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


*TBD. LIVE FRIDAY BROADCAST WILL BE SWITCHED OVER TO NBC. Check your local listings.


5:00 PM French Open : Men’s Semifinals – broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


Saturday, June 5 (EST)


12:00 AM French Open : Men’s Semifinals- broadcast in HD – Tennis Channel


*TBD. LIVE SATURDAY BROADCAST WILL BE SWITCHED OVER TO NBC. Check your local listings.


Sunday, June 6 (EST)


*TBD. LIVE SUNDAY BROADCAST WILL BE SWITCHED OVER TO NBC. Check your local listings.


via ESPN, Tennis Channel, and NBC