Tennis Week Articles
These articles were written in 2009 for Tennis Week, a tennis web site that no longer exists:
By Jean Kirshenbaum
7/3/2009 1:52:00 AM
On the 6th day of Wimbledon, my husband said to me "You are still watching Wimbledon, aren’t you? How much more can we take?"
"What? Yes, you philistine, I am still watching Wimbledon. Remember, I watch repeat episodes of Pimp My Ride with you, buddy!"
He may be right. Gary is now working for a couple of months in Charleston, WV, and he couldn’t take it anymore. In fact, it’s probably good that he left town at this particular time. I am beginning to feel the same way about tennis on TV. I have watched so much that it’s giving me a headache. We have resorted to phone tennis, believe it or not. I call him several times a day with not only match results, but the play by plays and game scores, too.
"Gotta go now. It’s getting busy here," he tells me. A fortnight of Wimbledon. Although it’s been pretty good so far, the best of Wimbledon may be yet to come. The men’s semifinals, the finals, the interviews, the endless, yet insightful, analysis.
Roger Federer’s quarterfinal win over Ivo Karlovic was somewhat predictable. And what about those big-deal upsets: Melanie Oudin's third-round win over Jelena Jankovic, and Tommy Haas over Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. The Andy Murray-Stan Warwrinka fourth-round match stands out as the most exciting so far. Wednesday’s Andy Roddick-Lleyton Hewitt match was a close second. Roddick’s win was truly gratifying for Americans. Serena Williams-Elena Dementieva was also a thriller.
Personally speaking (and for the moment, the floor is mine) not much has happened in my life during Wimbledon. Not that it matters to you, unless you can relate to my experiences. (I hope not) HERE IS WHAT I DIDN’T DO:
• Go to the cleaners.
• Do the dishes (still piled in the sink) I almost handled this task at the beginning of today’s Williams-Dementieva match, but decided against it when the match got exciting.
• Go food shopping (I have nothing to eat)
• Shampoo the rug with my new carpet shampoo vacuum (This is not the fault of Wimbledon. I bought it online and need someone to assemble it for me)
• Talk much to Renee, my best friend, who lives in Washington, D.C. She’s crazy for football, not tennis. In deference to our friendship, however, she reluctantly watched some of the Wimbledon highlight shows. ("Reluctantly? That’s not true, and you know it.")
• Play tennis, because, like the hurricanes that travel from Africa across the Atlantic to the East Coast, the traditional rains of Wimbledon abandoned London, barreled across the pond to the East Coast, and kept tennis players indoors. Fortunately, like Centre Court, I have a roof.
• Feed the bird before noon.
• Pay bills (forget Wimbledon. This is hard to do at anytime when you are an unemployed tennis fan (UTF) a plight you may be aware of if you have read the first edition of Wimbledon from the Armchair. If not, you can read it here)
Yes, readers, I am ashamed to admit that it got just that bad. My own meager sacrifices for Wimbledon, however, don’t even come close to the sacrifice my former college roommate is willing to make. Michelle, who plays tennis five times a week, is a science teacher, so she is off for the summer. Going to an extreme, she arranges her life as The World According to Wimbledon. Michelle strongly resented the blog in which I classified Wimbledon watchers into just two categories. Here is what she wrote in her email:
"Jean. So, let me get this straight. You classify people as either unemployed or employed tennis fans. What about me?!! I'm employed, but off for the summer, and I plan projects around Wimbledon — the only major tournament that I can catch live."
You plan projects around Wimbledon? You’re worse than I am. I thought to myself. But, since she was once a roommate, I instead responded with more tact: "Yes, Michelle, it was truly thoughtless of me to leave out those other dedicated fans who have planned their lives around watching Wimbledon. I guess there isn’t much else that’s important to do when you are employed but not currently working, or are retired (which is what perhaps you should do). It’s really awful that school starts early this year, and that you will be back at work during the U.S. Open. I will miss having lunch with you. I still think you should take a couple of days off for your annual trek from Maryland to Flushing Meadows."
Actually, in fairness to myself, I did get one important thing done. I went out to a Fed Ex drop box to send mail to Gary in West Virginia. It’s just as well that he’s away. He would not have received much attention from me. In fact, before Gary left, he sat crouched (crouched, not cowered) on the couch and asked me plaintively, "Do you think I’m a tennis widower?" Yes, of course you are, I replied. And be happy about that. There are golf widows and football widows. Better a Wimbledon widower than the traditional kind. And off to Charleston he went.
Gary doesn’t play tennis, so I am grateful for his interest in it, and his tolerance of mine, which is more than a bit obsessive. Noooo. Really? It’s bad enough I watch a lot of tennis. Now I write about watching tennis. Do I ever play tennis? Yeah, a lot. But not nearly as well as I’d like to, which even the pros will acknowledge. I bet Safina felt that way today when she was slaughtered by Venus. In fact, I’m glad Gary doesn’t play. For sure, the Andre Agassi-Steffi Graf love fest in May, when they played an exhibition match to unveil the new retractable roof on Centre Court, wasn’t typical of the couples I know who play mixed doubles. All too often, I’ve seen couples argue, exchange dirty looks and sling snide remarks regarding errors and poaching. This sort of unseemly mutual tennis torture can suffuse a match with enough tension to destroy a pastime that is supposed to be fun. Doesn’t look like much fun to me, and the pair cringing on the other side of the court can’t stand it either. Although we generally get along very well, I don’t want to take any chances, so I encourage Gary to leave his racket in the closet.
Unemployed and at home alone, I have been doing what is really important to me — I watch Wimbledon tennis matches. Or I write about watching Wimbledon, which is the combination of my two favorite pastimes — tennis and writing. Has anything actually happened in my life for the past 12 days, other than watching Wimbledon or writing about it? Why, no. I did make the big effort and get off the couch to send the Wimbledon.org link to several people, including my friend Roseann, who this year invited me to join a USTA doubles league. Thanks to Meridian and not to me, we won all of our matches. I also held a gun to Roseann’s head until she subscribed to the Tennis Channel. The Wimbledon link I sent allowed her to watch live scoring privately at work. But when I sent her link to the video of Michelle Larcher de Brito screeching at the top her lungs everyone gathered around her cube to see what was going on. Roseann, remember that I did warn you to keep the volume low.
It’s Thursday and we’re in the home stretch. Now that the two women’s semifinals have been won by the Williams sisters, I have time for some phone tennis to report the wins to Gary, do the dishes, feed the bird, drive to the cleaners, make a few more calls, and get back to whatever remnants of a life I have left. This reprieve lasts only until early tomorrow morning, when Wimbledon resumes with the men’s semifinals. (By the way, in case you were wondering, there were just four MJ syntax violations during that long Williams-Dementieva match. I counted them. If this is cryptic to you, see my previous column, Channeling the Queen’s English. Readers have you decided yet who you like for the women’s final on Saturday, or did you already know even before Wimbledon began? My racket’s on Serena, but was on Venus until today. How about the men’s semis? Murray and Federer, for sure. And the final on Sunday? A tough call.
Now for the answer to the question posed by Gary at the beginning of this column (drum roll) "Yes we can. We can take it." Is there ever too much tennis on TV? No. Remember, Gary, and the rest of you out there in Wimbledon Land, for a tennis fan, it doesn’t really matter who wins or loses, it’s how you enjoy the game.
Furthermore, for a tennis fanatic, nothing in life can be more fun than watching professional tennis. What, golf? Okay, you’ve got your grass, but that ain’t Wimbledon. Phone tennis? Nah. Writing about watching Wimbledon? Yeah. When Wimbledon is over in a few days, how will I fill the vacuum it leaves? (Surely not with that rug shampoo vacuum) It’s been a fortnight of mostly great tennis. Murray-Wawrinka! Williiams-Dementieva! I can take that, for sure. Yes I can. I have watched every major for the past three years—all of them. How I will fill the vacuum is a question I ask myself after every two-week tournament.
Before I go, let me illustrate with this embarrassing and shameful confession: I actually cancelled a tennis match for today, just so I could watch the women’s semifinals. What?! What nut gives up actually playing a tennis match (one that I would likely have lost) on a beautiful sunny day, just to stay indoors to watch some of the best athletic competition in the world? Yup, I am the kind of tennis fanatic who would do that—because I want to see it all for myself. In fact, I literally see red if someone tells me the results before I have had a chance to watch my recording or to see the evening repeats on TV. Roseann, I know that you understand and appreciate that, as does the editor of tennisweek.com, who is uncomfortably familiar with the lengths I have been willing to go to in order to avoid knowing results before I have had a chance to see the matches for myself. I don’t let anyone take that away from me, even TennisWeek.com. But, if you are someone who doesn’t have time to watch TV, and who does want to know, be the guest of TennisWeek.com. You have only to read the subject line of the newsletter for a quick take on who won and who lost.
Now that Wimbledon is almost over, what’s next? Between now and mid-August, I’ll happily meander through the summer’s Master Series events, which I also love to watch when they are televised. Meantime, Gary will be home soon, and, with Wimbledon over, he can surrender his status as a tennis widower, (and we can dispense with the phone tennis nonsense). But temporarily…just until about eight weeks from now, when the U.S. Open settles in to the three or four televisions here. It should not shock you that I like to have tennis on in every room so that I don’t miss a shot if I have to leave one room to go to another. Tennis fans, writing this column about Wimbledon has been a blast. I just hope that Tennis Week invites me back to resume my blog during the U.S. Open, my favorite of all the slams.
Jean Kirshenbaum is a Tennis Week contributing writer and avid tennis player based in Pennsylvania. This column is her fourth in a series of Wimbledon From The Armchair blogs that includes For Crying Out Loud and Channeling The Queen's English.
Channeling the Queen’s English
If we are going to host Wimbledon in our homes, and listen to all that tennis chatter, it’s only right that we hold our tennis-talk guests to the standards of the Queen’s English, which seems to be lacking in tennis commentary. Let me explain at the outset, I am not going to talk about the substance of the tennis commentators’ commentary, just about how they deliver it. As in this Wimbledon highlight comment from John McEnroe, who was talking about a Roger Federer match:
"That helped him win the French, the drop shot."
Did I hear that right? I did, and it’s a prime example of just how McEnroe, an otherwise astute and excellent commentator, generally talks to the viewers at home. McEnroe is from Queens, but he doesn’t exactly speak the Queen’s English. He is guilty of what I call cockamamie syntax. This is a strange speech pattern that reverses the order of subject and verb (or the predicate) as in his statement above. That’s just not how most people talk, right? Whatever happened to stating one’s thoughts front to back, as in subject then verb. Let me go front to back and translate McEnroe’s comment: "The drop shot helped him win the French." I can just hear him now, John McEnroe:
"You cannot be serious!!! Whadya want from me, lady? What do you think I am, an English teacher? I’ve won seven Grand Slam singles titles and nine majors in doubles. I have been a stellar tennis player. Added to that, my knowledge of the game makes me a fantastic tennis commentator. When did you win one, a Pulitzer Prize?"
Well, Mr. McEnroe — (may I call you John? probably not) — I get your point. I can reassure you, however, that you are not alone. Cockamamie syntax is catching. All your colleagues in the tennis Commentariat now talk this way. And just who are the other cast members in this Commentariat, you might ask? Why we all know. Having worked together for years, you are a cozy group; and, like most announcers in sports, along with cockamamie syntax, you have contracted nicknameitis. In random order, they are Mary Carillo, the McEnroe brothers, Johnny Mac and his brother Patrick, aka PMac; Cliff "Cliffie" Drysdale, Pam "Pammie" Shriver, Dick Enberg, Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson, Mary Joe "MJ" Fernandez, Martina Navratilova, Chris Fowler, Bill Macatee, Suzy Kolber, Bud Collins, and the ever-sexist Justin Gimblestob. Did I miss anyone?
Oh, I almost forgot Brad "BG" Gilbert, whose gift of gab is the gift that keeps on giving. Of all the members of the tennis Commentariat, Brad Gilbert by far produces a Niagara Falls of tennis chatter, which even his colleagues kid him about. He is emphatic and intense, which is what I like about him (read his BG Unplugged blog to see what I mean). An exception to that is when he calls Jelena Jankovic "double J". JJ would be a less contrived nickname.
"John," says BG. "John, just who is this vicious nut case from the boondocks of Pennsylvania?"
Like Gilbert, all the members of the Commentariat are infamous for their gift of gab. Perhaps many of you can’t wait ‘til they shut up, already. For me, it’s not what they say, but how they say it that drives me nuts. Cockamamie syntax. Here’s a little quiz .Which sentence does not belong in this group (see the answer at the end of this article).
1. Fowler: "He’s never lost in the first round, Andy."
2. Fernandez: "She’s served very well today, Venus."
3. Fernandez: "Why does she play so much better here, Venus?"
4. Carillo: "She’s got all this power, Venus Williams."
5. Carillo: "She’s had a couple of funky results here, Venus Williams."
6. Fernandez: "Venus hasn’t allowed a lot of break point chances."
7. Drysdale: "He lost to Roger Federer the year before, Del Potro."
8. Patrick McEnroe: "He’s totally demoralized right now, Kolschreiber."
9. Patrick McEnroe: "There’s only so much she can control, Radwanska."
10. Shriver: "First time on center court, Lisicki."
Wimbledon from the UTF Armchair
“For crying out loud,” an expression of exasperation, takes on new meaning in the world of tennis, as does a shriek of joy.
When the women are playing at Wimbledon, or any other tournament, sometimes the emphasis is on loud and not joy. Today, when my “get up, it’s Wimbledon” voicemail alarm rang at 7 a.m. so that I could catch the first match on ESPN, I instead rolled over and went back to sleep, one of the perks a UTF (unemployed tennis fan) can truly enjoy.
When I could no longer resist, and finally tuned into Wimbledon about 20 minutes later. Mary Carillo, Dick Enberg, Cliff Drysdale, Darren Cahill, and Mary Jo Fernandez were in deep conversation about the grunting of the women during their matches. Clearly, what sparked this discussion was the impending Sharapova-Dulko match. Come on ETFs (employed tennis fans) you know why a Sharapova match be such a conversation starter! Not surprisingly, they sided with quiet. The most intelligent feature of the chatter was Fernandez’s suggestion that, If junior level players are prohibited from grunting, and penalized a point if they do, the grunting might “disappear” in 5-6 years. Could it be? Hallelujah!
I had already planned to write about this topic today, so how fitting is it that the group was on MY wavelength. And how unlucky your UTF I missed a part of it merely because she didn’t want to get up--one of the perks of being a UTF. But, technology saved me once again. I hit record and was able not only to capture the conversation, I was also able to a press conference clip of Michelle Larcher de Brito, of Portugal, whose loud screams on the tennis court are becoming more controversial than those of Maria Sharapova. Just 16 and a relative newcomer who has won about a dozen matches in her short career, de Brito, ranked 91, made it to the third round at the French Open. This is her first Wimbledon, where she is now in the second round. Even if she never wins a tournament, she could someday capture the trophy for the loudest grunt-- perhaps by next week, if she gets that far.
I’ll get to her comments in a moment. I have something I want to say here and perhaps you will agree. It’s not really accurate to describe the noises of these women as “grunting.” Unless my hearing is way off, those noises sound more like shrieks and screams. Judge for yourself with these clips on YouTube, where you can see and hear both de Brito and Sharapova in separate action:
You can also make your own comparison from this clip, which shows Sharapova, DeBrito and Venus Williams.
Speaking of grunting, Gary [my spouse] says his worst tennis nightmare is a doubles match with Sharapova, de Brito, Monica Seles, and either of the Williams sisters. I explained to my friend Jerry, only a sometimes tennis fan (he says he thinks Ana Invanovic is so hot that he would happy to watch her just fold laundry), that the shrieks are not only annoying but can prevent an opponent from hearing the ball come off the racket. “If that’s the case,” he joked, “then no one would even know where the ball is!” Speaking of Ivanovic, she has a two-part little cry that sounds like a high pitched uh huh. Personally I also find Dimentieva’s high pitched “whoop” annoying
But back to de Brito:
At the recent French Open she was so loud that her opponent, Aravane Rezai, of France, even complained to the umpire about it. Supposedly it was so loud it could be heard two courts away. I’m surprised the players on those courts didn’t come over to complain, as well.
At this point in her career, de Brito could not care less what anyone thinks or says. In fact, in a clip from a press conference, she in effect said so what. Yes, she answered, as the matches get tougher, she will be grunting, and possibly even louder. “Yes, I think so....I am here for myself…to play, to win. No one can tell me to stop grunting.” So if you were hoping she would change her tune, I mean her shriek, forget it. De Brito said, “I’m not here to be quiet for anybody….if people don’t like it, they can leave.” Well, that ends any mystery about her attitude on this subject.
Should they or shouldn’t they be permitted to grunt./shriek/ scream? Is de Brito right? If screaming is what helps her to win, then so be it. But, among the fans, the pundits, and the pros, agreement is unlikely. Think about this: the annoyance quotient may also be pinned to the ability of the player, such as Sharapova, and to general likability, as well. I don’t think that de Brito’s attitude, however, will win her many friends, but, so what.
Historically speaking, Monica Seles is the player that most often comes to mind in any discussion of noisy tennis. Many years ago, I watched a Seles match in Philadelphia. She was so riveting that I could not tell you today whether she uttered a sound, or even took a breath, during that match. Even with a seat close to the court (I was an ETF at that point) I didn’t hear anything remotely distracting or irritating. Some people are just gunning for a fight. Remember the flap over Ana Ivanovic’s squeaky sneaks at the 2008 Australian Open? Speaking of Ivanovic, she has a two-part little cry that sounds like a high pitched nuh huh. Personally, I find Dimentieva’s high pitched “whoop” quite distracting.
On the subject of grunting, my husband Gary’s worst nightmare is a doubles match with Sharapova, de Brito, Serena Williams and Monica Seles. As I explained to my friend Jerry, not a tennis fan, employed or other wise, such shrieking is not only annoying but can prevent an opponent from hearing the ball come off the racket. His retort was great: “In that match, no one would even know where the ball is!”
Now admittedly, on my one day at the US Open, my seat in Arthur Ashe Stadium is in the nosebleed section. What else can a UTF afford? Because Ashe Stadium has been so well designed, I can see but I can’t hear. Perhaps those of you ETF who sit closer to the court are exposed to the grunts, screams and shrieks. But I am not, so it doesn’t bother me, although it does when I am watching it on TV.
De Brito is still trying to prove herself, If the grunting helps her to play well, then she’s not getting rid of it. A lot of men will probably say so what. She’s kinda cute.
So, on that note, let’s turn to the men. Not much to turn to, really. Their grunts are lower-pitched and not as loud as those of the women. The men’s grunts sound like grunts of effort. No one seems to be bothered much. And that’s the way it should be.
Meantime, going back to this morning and my unwillingness to get up, even to watch Wimbledon, it occurs to me that I could actually record a de Brito shriek on my voicemail alarm from that YouTube link. I doubt I would be able to roll over and go back to sleep with that as an alarm. I think I’ll try it.
In closing, dear readers, I can’t scream, shriek, whistle or even play tennis all that. But in writing, I can at least do this: Aaaaaaaaaaggghhhh.
DOES SISTERLY DEVOTION TOP SIBLING RIVALRY?
As glad as I am that Serena Williams has won Wimbledon, I am even sadder that Venus Williams lost. I felt just awful when the camera showed a downcast and disappointed V. Williams. I attribute my strong reaction to the fact that I have an older sister with whom I am very close. Judy and I have never been competitive as adults, especially since we don’t play the same sports. I play tennis. She plays nothing.
As children? That’s another story. I think I hated Judy for most of the years we were growing up. I thought she hated me, too. We fought endlessly and my mother could not bring herself to be the referee. I was so mad at Judy during one fight that I chased her into the bathroom with a baseball bat. To this day I don’t know how she got out! I couldn’t wait until she left for college. Anyone who knows us would say that it’s not at all that way today. And anyone who knows us is envious of our relationship. Since we are so very different, how did this come about?
We have always given the credit to our parents, who obviously did something right. In fact, my mother’s strongest was that Judy and I have this closeness. That may be so because it wasn’t always the case for her and her brothers and sisters. And because my father and his younger brother became estranged as adults.
Speaking of our father, Judy and I were both Daddy’s Girls. Once I even confessed to her that I was his favorite. She insisted she was his favorite! We argued a little over that and still joke about it today. We finally settled on the opinion that it’s a clever and loving Dad who can make both of his daughters feel like the favorite. Congratulations, Richard Williams and Oracine Price. The story of your family is a fascinating miracle.
But here is what I really wonder about. When tennis is long behind them and the Williams sisters have become old women, I wonder how they will look back on these golden years of their youth and their tennis careers. My picture is that only when they are old will they l be able to retrace their matches, and finally reveal to each other the emotions they felt-- both good and bad—about some of the many points, games and matches they have shared and will likely to continue to share, if we are lucky enough to have them stay around for a while.
Until they meet again. Maybe in early September at the U.S.Open?
Armed For The Open
By Jean Kirshenbaum
8/14/2009 4:07:00 PM
I don’t know about you, but I am still recovering from watching two weeks of Wimbledon on television. And now it’s full speed ahead toward the US Open. That Andy Roddick-Roger Federer Wimbledon final wore me out—from all the tension as they battled it out in that exciting fifth set. Eh, that’s old news. Now most players are fighting for titles in the US Open Series. I hope that none of the big guns, or any of the players for that matter, is injured between now and the end of this month.
Nadal’s sore knees make him a mystery, of course. And if you've been watching Montreal you may have seen David Ferrer (knee tendonitis) and Tommy Haas (blister on his racquet hand) retire within 20 minutes of each other last night. Fernandon Gonzalez is also battling a knee injury, James Blake has been out since last month's Davis Cup quarterfinals with a broken bone in his toe and on the women's side Maria Sharapova continues her comeback from shoulder surgery, Sorana Cirstea has been pained by a foot injury and World No. 1 Dinara Safina is playing Cincinnati with her hand taped after a coconut-cutting accident.
So, while we’re on a majors break, let’s ponder the big question: Is watching the US Open better than watching Wimbledon? That's like asking is Coke better than Pepsi? (Coke. No, this is not a paid endorsement, but I’d like it to be since I am still an unemployed tennis fan, UTF.) Wimbledon is a name known to just about everyone on the planet. But in my planet, not everyone knew when it was going on.
When Labor Day rolls around, however, and I say I have to get off the phone — even if I initiated the call — my friends will say, "Oh, are you watching it, the US Open?"
This tells me that not only do my friends know me very well, but also that everyone in America knows when the US Open is taking place, no matter what sport they like. Or even if they have no interest at all in sports, which is the case with most of my friends, except for Renee, who has season’s tickets to the Redskins' games. Philistine! I have to forgive her, because even she watches the finals of majors.
I don’t have to tell you…it’s clear that the US Open is the big deal here in the U.S. To hell with those tournaments in Europe. By the way, do you realize that each of the majors has a sobriquet? The Australian, the French, and Wimbledon. But there is only one major known simply as, not the American, but THE OPEN. That’s my segue to this question…
Are you prepared for the upcoming two weeks, August 31- September 13? I am. I've had the armchair steam cleaned and the cable television bill is paid up. And, after more than two months away, the Wimbledon Widower, Gary, is back home and has relieved me of my responsibilities as the West Virginia Widow. Now that he is also UTF, he will have time during THE OPEN to make himself useful by doing all the things I didn't do when I was watching Wimbledon: go food shopping, go to the cleaners, wash the dishes and even feed the bird before noon. That done, he can sit down on the couch and watch THE OPEN with me.
The tennis commentariat will be back, of course, along with the sentence disorder that I call cockamamie syntax, something no commentator should be guilty of. On that score, it has been a relief during the US Open Series tournaments to listen to the tier-two commentariat — Corina Morariu, Leif Shiras, Jimmy Arias, and sometimes Lindsay Davenport — all of whom speak English in the appropriate format and sentence order.
But, yea though I walk through the valley of Flushing Meadows, there are other more important things to ponder, the obvious being: Who will win? Yes, just Who? Until we know, for the next several weeks, we can quell the suspense by considering these subthemes:
• Who is playing well and who is not?
• Who is injured and who is not?
• Who will win the trophy for shrieking — Maria Sharapova, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Victoria Azarenka or Serena Williams? (Or me, from the frustration of listening to them?)
• Yeah, Federer and Nadal always take center stage in New York and at the other majors, but is Murray, Roddick, Djokovic or even a dark horse in the wings?
• Will either Safina or Dimentieva finally have a breakthrough and win one of these majors?
• Will Serena Williams mow everyone down, as she is capable of doing?
• Will Jelena Jankovic or Svetlana Kuznetsova be up to it, and will Ana Ivanovic return to form?
Doesn’t look like it. To date, the biggest buzz around Ivanovic is what she’ll be wearing, since her tennis game has been unzipped since the 2008 French. In an attempt to recover from a bewildering downhill slide that began after winning the French and becoming No. 1, she has changed her service motion. So, perhaps things will change in Ivanovic’s fashion shop. Not looking too good. As I am writing this, she has just lost 7-6, 7-5 to Melinda Czink (Who?), a Hungarian player ranked No. 59, at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, also known as Cincinnati. Ana, get the pretty dresses ready. You may look hot, but not like a hot prospect for THE OPEN.
And what about Dinara Safina? Will this be her finest hour? Will she win that ever elusive major, or will she get to yet another final, only to dissolve into a meltdown of double faults. Still more delectable questions: Is Sharapova ready yet for a crescendo in her comeback? Given her 10-month layoff due to shoulder surgery, she is playing remarkably well. Like Ivanovic, she has changed her serve. They are each now using an abbreviated motion. Although it doesn’t yet matter in the case of Ivanovic. Clijsters, too, is making an impressively strong comeback but is not a likely winner just yet. And what about the Williams sisters? Like it or not, you just cannot ever count them out.
On the men’s side, is it time for Roddick to repeat his 2003 victory? Wouldn't all of us Americans just love to see him take it? He lost Wimbledon by just a hair — what a performance! — and by another hair at the Legg Mason in D.C. He’s been playing just great for most of the summer, and appears to be regaining his footing (literally, now that he is in so much better shape) as the hope for American tennis, which was his mantel when he was the number one junior in 2000. I’m no analyst, but I can still ask the questions that are likely on the minds of all tennis fans here on planet earth. Yea, nothing is a given in the tennis universe. Roddick has reached four other finals in majors, losing to Roger Federer every time. However, given his stellar performance at Wimbledon, a lot of people think that he might just have a sliver of a shot, especially on a hard court.
Federer? He’s on balance, too, with few doubters left after the French and Wimbledon. Probably the biggest buzz surrounding Federer is not only whether he can sustain his current level of play, but what if any impact fatherhood will have on his game. This is underpinned by the gossipy question on my mind, which is whether his wife, Mirka, will bring the twins to New York. Nah, too young, we might say, but the wife and kids accompanied Roger to Montreal this week. And remember, Lindsay Davenport returned to the tour just weeks after her son was born, and she traveled with him when he was just a few months old. Yebbut, she was the one who actually gave birth, which makes it an apples-oranges comparison.
Regardless of the outcome, until it begins, let’s hope that all the players remain injury free and can play their best.
So I’m really excited. My favorite major of the year will soon be here. And I will soon be there. After the countless hours I spent watching Wimbledon on television, I have to confess that my set will be turned off on at least one day — Friday, September fourth. Why? Because, lucky me, I will be in New York that day at THE OPEN.
Jean Kirshenbaum is a Tennis Week contributing writer and avid tennis player based in Pennsylvania. Her previous columns for this web site include Tennis Nearly Killed Me...Then It Saved My Life, Wimbledon From The Armchair , For Crying Out Loud and Channeling The Queen's English.
Overheard At The Open
By Jean Kirshenbaum
9/7/2009 6:15:00 PM
With average daily attendance more than 60,000, which includes seating for nearly 40,000 in Ashe, Armstrong and the Grandstand stadiums, plus thousands more wandering the 46.5 acre grounds, the US Open — one of the most famous sporting events in the world — is fertile ground for amusing comments and the sharp wisecracks that New Yorkers are known for. I can assure you, eavesdropping offered value added to our days at the US Open.
Weather was a hot topic. Granted, while it was the most beautiful summer day at the Open — the sun was high and the humidity was unusually low — it was hot although not the hottest day of my trips to the Open. But certainly hot enough for heat to be a part of the day’s conversation. Heard at an umbrella-shaded table at the food village:
"This sun is making me feel weak. Where’s some shade? I think I’ll bring an umbrella next year."
Seated under an umbrella at a different table, one woman from Columbia, Md., told us that she doesn’t play tennis, but as a loving and loyal tennis widow, she made the trip with her tennis fanatic husband and his equally tennis-crazy friends. Nevertheless, she found something redeeming in her day. "I’ve had to spend so much time watching tennis on television, that I’m just glad to be here on this beautiful day, if only to restore my tan."
Add to that this comment on matches that weren’t as hot as the day — such as the initially tepid match of Andy Murray and Paul Capdeville, a match worthy of this question from a spectator seated in row G in the highest tier in Ashe:
"Shall we go over to Armstrong and see if Clijsters is playing yet?"
The three of us had our six ears wide open for comments, questions and wisecracks. We heard some gems. I’ll regale you here with the best of them.
• Overheard in the top tier of Ashe, row G: "Oh, are these your seats?"
• At lunch in the Patio Café: "I’m not paying $5 for a shrimp"(4 in a $20 appetizer).
• People here are friendly and nice. You mean civilized? Yes, not like an Eagles football game.
• $3.75 for a pint of water? That’s $33 a gallon. Makes a gallon of gas seem like a bargain.
• I think they turn down the water pressure so you can’t get a drink from the water fountains and have to spring for the $3.75 pint of spring water.
• With all that fan support for Melanie Oudin of Marietta, GA, Maria Sharapova probably wishes she were a US citizen. She’s lived here about as long as Oudin has been alive.
• I like the colors of Sharapova’s dress — lavender and yellow. She looks like an Easter egg!
• In a 5-set outer court match between Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, "People are going crazy. He has them singing the national anthem every time he scores a point."
• "We didn’t collect any parakeets this year (huh?) (last year a parakeet flew into the top tier of Ashe and this couple took it home.)
• Heard during Murray -Capdeville: "I think she could beat this guy herself, Serena Williams.
• I wonder how far down the men’s ranking Serena would have to go before she began beating them consistently.
• Speaking of Serena Williams: "She doesn’t look as big in person as she does on television." "I think she looks bigger."
• "Even though he beat Roddick, Isner doesn’t strike me as a really good player."
•"Now Roddick knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a ballistic missile. Is turnabout fair play? I doubt Roddick thought so."
• Dementieva lost. I thought she would win the whole thing. Now I owe Ted $10.
• Serena is ahead at 6-2, 3-0. This is as bad as I thought it would be for Hantouchova. No. Actually, it’s worse. When they shake hands at the end, Serena can’t exactly say "nice match." More like "better luck next time."
Anyone eavesdropping on my conversation with my husband would have heard this at least 3-4 times at various intervals:
1. "Hasn’t this been a great day?!"
2. "Isn’t this a wonderful day?"
3. "It’s too bad we have to wait until next year to come back."
Jean Kirshenbaum is a Tennis Week contributing writer and avid tennis player based in Pennsylvania. Her previous columns for this web site include Armed For The Open, Tennis Nearly Killed Me...Then It Saved My Life, Wimbledon From The Armchair , For Crying Out Loud and Channeling The Queen's English.
US Open Rain Delay: What's A Girl To Do?
By Jean Kirshenbaum
9/11/2009 6:20:00 PM
What do you do when it’s raining and there are no matches to watch on television? Beat up on Zeus, god of rain? Is it all doom and gloom? Looks that way.
The matches already played will likely be televised just to fill scheduled air time, but who wants to see those again? I was there in person on two days and watched most of the others at home. I will stay tuned for some of the matches I missed — those that I am really interested in such as an encore of Wednesday’s Bryan brothers loss to Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy. I was there to see it and was so disappointed that I left Ashe before the Yanina Wickmayer-Kateryna Bondarenko match to soothe myself with the PG50 match on court 4, where coaches Billie Jean King and Ivan Lendl coached a team tennis format with such old timers and middle timers as Stan Smith, Guillermo Vilas, Todd Martin, Luke Jenson, Tracy Austin and the Wizards of Ez — Mary Joe Fernandez, Gigi Fernandez, and Conchita Martinez. (Because it was so fast and exciting the Bryans match is one that I would see again.)
Otherwise, I am left to my own devices. I can’t play tennis because of the rain, and I can’t watch tennis either, so what’s a girl to do? I’m not working so I could go shopping, but there is absolutely nothing I need or want to buy and I couldn’t afford it anyway. Oh, you meant grocery shopping? Nah, my husband does that. What about cleaning the house? Nah, I keep it messy during the majors. Read a book? Good idea. I recently finished "A Terrible Splendor", Marshall Jon Fisher’s outstanding account of the tennis history and outstanding tennis players and matches during the Hitler era and earlier, and I am part way through the new Monica Seles book, "Getting a Grip." I could do that, although in the summer I do most of my reading on the beach or at the pool. It’s raining, so I can’t do that either. And we have no leaks in the (patched those several years ago) so it’s not raining in my living room. Looks like there is no excuse. I could read sitting in the armchair, which is where I usually watch tennis.
What nerve I have to groan about the weather! Think of what it’s like for the players, as well as the tournament director, who has to figure out how to salvage the schedule, taking into consideration the players, television schedules and executives, ticket refund policies, and all the other intangibles that make up the nightmare of rained out matches during THE OPEN — one of the biggest tennis events of the year — if not the biggest. For sure there are protocols and backup plans, but it’s those intangibles that would make you want to hurl tennis balls at the gods.
And the players…what about them? They come first, of course. Most of them have already washed out of the tournament. However, of those who are left — what do they do when it rains? That’s what I would really like to know. Work out, practice at the indoor courts or go shopping? I have always wondered why in their interviews the women say that one of their favorite pastimes is shopping. What could they need to buy? They wear mostly tennis clothes and it’s doubtful they buy those in stores.(By the way, all the Wizards of Ez were wearing pink and black, which suggests that they must have gone shopping together.)
With all the traveling and playing time, the female players have occasion to wear civilian clothes. Maybe they shop for gifts for their friends and families. Once in a while, a player will admit to reading a book. They also have regular interests such as music and movies. Some do media and marketing stuff such as interviews and commercials. These kids travel to the great cities of the world. Rain would be a good time to go to a museum or take a guided tour. Or sneak a piece of chocolate, and be the envy of Dinara Safina. (See her spot in the series of "It Must Be Love" TV spots on www.fandome.com.) Speaking of tennis ads, I like not only the Safina ad in which she demonstrates her dilemma over choosing chocolate or tennis, but also the Venus Williams spot about Harold, her dog, "who doesn’t even like tennis." He just "waits for me to get off the court." He didn’t have long to wait this year. And Roger Federer is simply charming in his "what they call me" spot. He settles on "just Rog." On the other hand, I really detest the Andy Roddick Lacoste ad, with Ivano Icardi’s s driving, irritating "Go For It" music, and the not-so-attractive stick figure models strutting down a not-so-visible runway. I just hate it, not only for the anorexic look of the models, but also because. it’s shown so often that the music gives me an irritating ear worm. What agency dreamed that up? Relief from this ad is one upside of the rain-out.
And just maybe the players are as perplexed as I am when the weather wrecks the day’s tennis plans. What I find really aggravating is when it begins to rain in the middle of my match, although not nearly as aggravating as the suspension of last night’s Rafael Nadal-Fernando Gonzalez match. When we last left Ashe stadium, Nadal had the edge. The break may help him get a more solid footing for a sprint to victory, but somehow I think that the rain and wind will blow this one Gonzales’ way. Given his knees and his stomach strain, Nadal does not seem to be up to par.
I hate thinking about all this. Zeus be damned. I’m off to the armchair with my Seles book. It’s near a picture window where I can watch to see if it’s still raining.
Jean Kirshenbaum is a Tennis Week contributing writer and avid tennis player based in Pennsylvania. Her previous columns for this web site include Overheard At The Open, Armed For The Open, Tennis Nearly Killed Me...Then It Saved My Life, Wimbledon From The Armchair , For Crying Out Loud and Channeling The Queen's English.
By Jean Kirshenbaum
10/15/2009 8:42:00 PM
When some people have time on their hands (and just when might this be?), usually in a doctor’s waiting room, or waiting for a train, they talk on a cell phone, read a book or a magazine, listen to music or do a crossword puzzle.
When they are in the car on a road trip, parents try to keep their kids occupied with car games like "Knock Knock, Who’s There?" or spotting license plates from as many states as they can.
So, while waiting to go to the Land of Oz for the Australian Open, which begins on January 18, let’s us tennis fan kiddies play a game.
Are you familiar with the name game song by Shirley Ellis in 1964? It goes like this:
Come on everybody, I say now lets play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme out of anybody's name
The first letter of the name, I treat it like it wasn't there
But a 'B' or an 'F' or an 'M' will appear
And then I say "Bo" add a 'B' then I say the name
Then "Bonana Fanna" and "Fo"
And then I say the name again with an 'F' very plain
then a "Fee Fi" and "Mo"
And then I say the name again with an 'M' this time
And there isn't any name that I can't rhyme
Now the game that I have in mind isn’t musical, but it’s even more fun for tennis fans. It’s the nick name game, which is ubiquitous in sports. The tennis commentators on television are already well known as:
Brad Gilbert — BG
Mary Joe Fernandez — MJ
Cliff Drysdale — Cliffie
John McEnroe — Johnny Mac
Patrick McEnroe — PMac
Pam Shriver — Pammy
Darren Cahill — Killer
Mary Carillo — Mary C
Darren Cahill — Killer
Brad Gilbert is the most well known and prolific player of the name game, for whom:
Jelena Jankovic is "Double J" or JJ (I like to call her Handkerchief)
Novak Djokovic — Djoker
Maria Sharapova — Shaza
Venus Williams — V
Svetlana Kuznetsova — Kuzy
Ivan Ljubicic — Looby
Jurgen Melzer — Tuna Melzer
Kim Clijsters — Kimmy
Rafael Nadal — Rafa (BG briefly toyed with "Ralph Nadal" an apparent homage to "Ralph Nader" but quickly returned to "Rafa")
Roger Federer — Club Fed, The Fed, Fed Ex, Darth Federer, Federer Express
Andy Roddick — A Rod
Gustavo Kuerten — Guga
Ivo Karlovic — Dr. Ivo
Sam Querry — Q-Ball
Tommy Robredo — T-Rob
Richard Gasquet — Dicky G
Fernando Gonzales — Gonzo
Lleyton Hewit — Rusty
Martina Hingis — Marti
Jesse Levine — The Lil Scrapper
Scoop Malinowski — Scooooop
Juan Martin Del Potro — Del Po
Gael Monfils — Gale Force
Gilles Simon — Simon
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — Joe Willie
Stanislas Wawrinka — Stan The Man
Caroline Wozniacki — Sunshine
Here are my nickname nominations for inclusion in the BG lexicon:
Stanislas Wawrinka — Winky
Melanie Oudin — Melody
Gisela Dulko — Duke
Tommy Robredo — Robo
John Isner — Izzy
Fernando Verdasco — Tobasco (he’s hot)
Lleyton Hewitt — Huey
Got a favorite player who doesn’t yet have a nickname? Create an original nick name or sound alike and send it in to Tennisweek.com. Then you can be a participant in Tennis Week’s nickname game. As the author of a player nickname you will give yourself a chance to win a prize.
So take part in he nickname game poll. We will publish all the nick names and you can vote for your top three favorites. The name with most votes is the winner, and the person who submitted it will get a prize. Have fun!
Jean Kirshenbaum is a Tennis Week contributing writer and avid tennis player based in Pennsylvania. Her previous columns for this web site include Armed For The Open, Tennis Nearly Killed Me...Then It Saved My Life, Wimbledon From The Armchair , For Crying Out Loud and Channeling The Queen's English.
WHAT’S UP FOR DOWN UNDER? Jan. 18-31
Like a clipper ship heeled over in an Atlantic storm, or in the Indian Ocean, will the tennis greats of the Grand Slam fleet be able to right themselves at the good ship Australian Open? The US Open was wacky with upsets: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva, and Svetlana Kuznetsova, all lost their oars and fell overboard in the storm that was the US Open (not literally, since there were only two days of rain delay). Or will their ship right itself when they cross the sea, or fly in to reach Australia?
Ho ho ho and bottle of rum says that normalcy will return in the sweltering heat that bedevils the Australian Open, the first major of 2010, and the one that for some reason seems to offer opportunities for players who have never captured a major, such as Novak Djokovic in 2008. Of course, tilting the ship on the women’s side are Kim Clijsters and perhaps even Justine Henin. And, aye matie, will the feisty Georgia peach, Melanie Oudin, a stowaway on the hold of the Good Ship US Open, be able to shuffle those flashy tennis shoes and once more fire cannons at the stars? No one could forget—even those who don’t follow tennis--how she drowned Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova. Will Safina yet again be seasick with double faults and jump ship? And what about the sailors? Captain Federer, always at the helm, certainly has a good chance. First mate Nadal once again is a mystery, given his current ailments (knees AND stomach) and the two able seamen Roddick and Murray may come up on deck to hoist the sails. Maybe some other maties—Juan Martin Del Potro? Jo-Wilfried Tsonga? Fernando Verdasco?-- will give all of them the heave ho.
Are we there yet? ___ days to go. Although there are still several tournaments until then, including the women’s year end championships and Barclays for the men, as well as a number of tune ups in Australia, can we wait until January 18, 2010 and survive two weeks of who knows what tennis until the end of it all on January 31. I bet the players can wait. They must be wrung out by now, although amazingly some of them may be crazy (or desperate) enough to choose to play in the few tournaments left in 2009, plus Davis Cup.
Not Just a Player and a Fan – A Tennis Survivor
What Tennis Has Really Meant for Me.
Tennis has not only changed my life, it has helped me get through it (and it almost killed me, too.)
Now that Wimbledon has come and gone, tennis fans like me are gearing up for the U.S. Open. That gives me just about a 7-week lull ponder who will win, as well as to lie on the beach at the Jersey shore and reflect on what tennis has meant for me throughout my life. Doesn’t everyone do this? The majors demonstrate my commitment as a fan – hours and hours of watching tennis on TV, listening to the cockamamie syntax of the commentators, which drives my husband (now infamous as the Wimbledon Widower), nuts. I am also a player of many decades who has experienced the fun, exercise, pride, frustration, disappointment, and the other highs and lows that come along with this wonderful sport. But, perhaps what’s been more important to me than playing and watching is the big influence tennis has had on the rest of my life, both positively and negatively. It has not only changed my life, it has helped me to get through it. And it almost killed me, too. That sounds dramatic, I know. Keep reading.
Tennis has opened many doors for me - -not in the way that they say that golf leads to business contacts, or bowling to beer—but to long-lasting friendships and new horizons. Most important, it has unexpectedly eased me through a number of life transitions.
I am not alone. Tennis has been a source of personal growth, life lessons, and character development for many people. Tennis has given me all this and more. The “more” is that it’s not just a sport. It is a membrane that has connected many significant life events and transitions, beginning with summer camp, where my first boyfriend was the tennis coach. He taught me well enough so that I made the high school tennis team, which was followed by a long hiatus. I didn’t play in college, nor did my roommate Michelle, who now plays five times a week. I don’t even think we had a team, or even tennis courts, and my former husband, not at all athletic, didn’t play. After we split several decades ago, I remained in Washington, D.C. where I found myself alone and with no friends. I desperately needed to find my way. Classes in acting and modern dance didn’t offer much fun or friendship, so when a friend asked me what I had really liked to do when I was younger the lights went on.
TENNIS! [How did you know?] I got my wood racket out the closet, drove over to a nearby public court and found some players hanging out there, including a woman, also named Jean, who was also looking for people to play with, instead of only her boyfriend, a guy who recommended a psychologist because he thought I needed more than just tennis to get my life going again. Although (I did take his advice, tennis proved to be the better solution). With their help, I began to get my game, such as it was after eight years, back into shape. After a couple of months, I moved from Southeast D.C. across town to the Kalorama neighborhood, which was closer to my job. My new apartment was also very close to the Washington Hilton Hotel, which at that time had a swim and tennis club that I wasn’t aware of until neighbor told me about. Another door opened by tennis, which once again bring me back to life. Now I was really into it: lots of tennis and lots of new friends. I once watched Jimmy Connors practice there, and more than once I saw two senators playing singles with women who were not their wives. Thirty years later, I remain friends with several of the players I met, although we now live in different cities – Philadelphia, Tampa, and New York. But history repeats itself. Five years later I moved to Philadelphia and once again found myself alone and without friends. You guessed. Tennis opens another door. By now I had it down pat. I joined a swim club that had a single tennis court, which produced not only laps in the pool, but several people to play tennis with.
So where is the high drama I promised? Wait. It’s coming…
When I left Center City Philadelphia for the suburbs, I began taking lessons from an excellent teacher and signed up for his doubles clinic. I also perused club bulletin boards and found a player, Susan for an indoor winter contract; she and I played together for 15 years. It is the doubles clinic, however, that changed my life– and not for the better-- although I couldn’t know that at the time. Here’s my story. In one of the doubles clinics, I bent over to retrieve a ball at the net, which sounds harmless enough. When I stood up, however, the guy in the deuce court across the net swatted a return that hit me extremely hard on the right side of my neck.There was just a brief sting, nothing else, so I continued to play. No big deal. I was wrong about that. About 6 months later, my right carotid artery dissected, causing the first of four strokes. Although I was paralyzed just briefly, I was left with a permanent weakness on my left side that has seriously compromised my mobility, and degraded what had become a fairly decent game. On the other hand, while tennis nearly destroyed me, it also pulled me through. During a 15-day stay in the hospital for a stroke-related procedure, I had a third stroke and renewed but brief paralysis. While there, I watched the tick of the second hand on the wall clock. I spent most of the time, however, picturing myself back on the tennis court. I was also highly motivated because my partner Susan and I had already paid the deposit for our winter contract. No way was I going to let her down. It was July and I had until September to make it happen. I asked my doctor if he thought I would be able to play tennis again. Yes, he said, “but not as aggressively.”
That’s the reason that the partner I didn’t want to let down ended up letting me down. Susan put up with my weakened game for several years, but finally it just wasn’t fun for her anymore. I had already paid the deposit for the 16th year of our indoor contract, but she backed out. My disappointment ran as deep as any disappointment ever has. At this point, I was left with not a single person to play tennis with. Yet I still had the contract. Now what?
At my husband’s suggestion, which I initially resisted, I called the tennis coach at the nearby high school, and every Monday Ashley assigned one of the girls from her team to play with me. What a lifesaver. How do things stand today? Through Ashley, I found Emily, who now shares the indoor contract. For outdoor tennis, I also now have more people to play with than I even have time for. How did this come about? I signed up with an online community of players at Tennis Philly.com, which has supplied me with a list of at least 15 compatible players at my level and in my geographic location. As I said, I’m gearing up for my day at the US Open; Friday, Sept. 4. Gary, the Wimbledon Widower can’t go with me, which makes me the US Open Widow. But just last week, Tennis Philly brought another player to me who is also likely to be a friend. Cindy is going with me to New York.
Once again, with the help of technology, tennis has helped me find my own way. My numerous Internet searches for “tennis in Philadelphia,” pointed me to Tennis Philly, an online tennis “community” that has changed my life as a tennis player as of the past 3 years. I now have as many matches as I have the time and inclination to play. I’m having fun, improving my game, and meeting lots of really nice people, some of whom have become my friends outside of tennis.
There is no reason at all for anyone to complain as much as I did – or at all-- about no one to play tennis with. It doesn’t have to be that way. If something like what happened to me, happens to you, here’s what you can do to resurrect a life with tennis. Sure, you can do online searches for tennis in your area, but much of what comes up is information about private clubs. If you are in the situation I was in, you can change your mindset, take action, find players, and get out there and play! You will soon be complaining that you’re sore from playing too much tennis. Let me make it easy for you. If you live in or near any of these cities, you can find plenty of compatible, nearby players.
Chicago--www.ChiTownTennis.com; Los Angeles
Orange County, CA- -www.TennisOC.com
New York City--www.TennisNewYork.com
Tampa, St.Pete-- www.TennisTampaBay.com
• As you can see, I found my way with tennis, which continues to change my life and to bring me new friends and opportunities. Given my medical history, it’s a wonder that I can even play tennis. At one point, I figured that the best outlook for me was wheelchair tennis. Not for me. Those chairs are horribly expensive! My tennis game is not where I want it to be. But for me, to give up is to give in, so I am willing to continue to lose in a game in which I was usually the winner.To combat discouragement, twoor three times a week I take lessons with two very patient and encouraging pros, Ted and Huibri, to work on my mobility and compensatory tactics. When I am in Sarasota I work with Jeff, who, because he sees me just a few times a year, can notice any improvement in my mobility. The lessons get expensive. But both my neurologist and my husband consider tennis ongoing physical and mental therapy for me, which is how we justify paying for it. I am neither to be pitied nor admired, although sometimes people close to me do both, which saves me from doing it for myself. On the other hand, on the advice of a friend, I did buy myself an 8” tennis trophy with this engraving: Jean Kirshenbaum, Tennis Star. And to think, Monica Seles just donated all of her trophies to the International Hall of Fame museum in Newport! I look at mine before every match. It doesn’t help me win, but for some reason it does make me feel better. I always try to
Tennis helped me with one other thing. It helped me to resume reading at a time when my focus and concentration were very poor because of my post-stroke condition. I could no longer stand watching television when I had always been a big reader. My first pick was something that I knew would hold my interest: “You Cannot Be Serious,” by John McEnroe. It was an easy read and it did the trick: I became more positive and confident regarding my focus and concentration. Thank you, Johnny Mac). I then left tennis literature and moved on to the really deep stuff – the three books by Lance Armstrong. At this point, it’s back to literary tennis. I’m now reading Monica Seles’ new book, Getting a Grip, and I recently finished John Marshall Fisher’s A Terrible Splendor by, a gift from a new buddy here at Tennis Week.
Well folks, it’s time to leave the armchair and go play my match. I try to remember that it’s not whether I win or lose, but whether I enjoyed the game.
Many of you out there have probably also experienced tennis as a life changing activity. If tennis has changed your life, make it into a short story in 25 words or less. We’ll post some of your responses here on tennisweek.com. Here are some examples to help you get started:
• I play tennis and he doesn’t like it. We broke up.
• I play tennis and he does, too. We got married
• I hurt my knee and couldn’t run for 6 months. Now I have a better serve.
• Mixed doubles ruined our marriage.
• My affair with a tennis pro improved my game.
• We left Greenland for Florida so that we can play tennis all year long.
• I grew to hate tennis. Now I love golf. Or, conversely…
• I grew to hate golf, now I love tennis.
• I broke my ankle. Now I do Yoga.
Submit your story to : _________________-