short balls: molik, philippoussis, IMG, etc.

Queen of Nice trumps King: The HBO documentary Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, but lost out to Rosie O’Donnell’s gay cruise documentary. Rosie acknowledged BJK in her acceptance: “If it hadn’t been for Billie Jean King, there wouldn’t have been a gay movement.” For once, Rosie says something nice. (via pinknews.co.uk)

molik-dancing with the starsFlashback: A year ago this month, Alicia Molik (left) was booted off the Australian version of Dancing with the Stars. (via The Age)

The Scud’s return: Mark Philippoussis will be playing a Challenger tournament next month after successfully undergoing yet another knee surgery. He’s also changed management; he has dropped IMG and now turns to his dear friend and Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones. (via The Age)

Speaking of IMG, Philippoussis isn’t the only one they’ve dropped from their roster. A few higih-profile agents have jumped ship, taking their clients with them. Casey Wasserman of Wasserman Media Group is taking advantage of this fallout. (via BusinessWeek)

peter bodo on davis cup uniforms

The ITF today announced the official nominations for the World Group Quarterfinal ties next month.

After the last Davis Cup round in February, Tennis.com’s Peter Bodo chimed in — like all columnists did — about how to resuscitate interest in this event in the U.S. His ideas? (1) Install Hawk-Eye cameras in all courts used (which should be easy, since all 5 matches are played on the same court) and (2) create team uniforms:

National teams have uniforms, period. Yet there was Roddick in black-and-white, and Berdych in red-and-blue yesterday in Ostrava… Davis Cup is about tradition, pageantry and playing for your country. Why have the guys dressed like two hackers at the local park?”

Yesssssssss. Bodo’s on the right track. In case he didn’t know, I should point out that every team has warm-ups that already play on flag colors. But when the players are on the court, everyone wears their own gear, likely because they still have to adhere to sponsorship contracts (remember that Kim Clijsters Olympics disaster?).

So an on-court uniform will take some effort to figure out. And as Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin (and Yonex and adidas) showed us, you can still sport your country’s colors — or at least slap your country name on the back — while keeping allegiance to your sponsor.

Hewitt in two shirts silkscreened with ‘Australia’:

hewitt - davis cup - yellow
hewitt, playing doubles, in white

and Safin’s team did a slapdash job putting ‘Russia’ on the back of this adidas shirt. You know someone got sent to the gulag after the match:

safin in white - davis cup

Perhaps Bodo is onto something. If each country designed uniforms from scratch — uniforms in the palette of a country flag, and would jump off from there to include stripes, coats of arms, and any other element that would evoke national pride — the ITF could use this to keep the Davis Cup brand afloat throughout the year. After each tie, put the shirts up online and sell, sell, SELL.

I might offer you some suggestions for designs in the coming weeks.

RELATED POSTS
>> speaking of ralph lauren
>> davis cup 2007, first round: switzerland vs. spain
>> davis cup 2007, first round: sweden vs. belarus

guga watch 2007

Gustavo Kuerten is currently preparing to compete in next month’s Davis Cup. His 2007 ATP record isn’t too hot (his current record is 2-6), and he’s getting beef from naysayers breathing down his back.

Leave him alone and let him play on the tour as long as he wants. He’s enjoying himself, and has used his celebrity into founding a non-profit and starting a clothing line. He’ll quit when he’s ready.

short balls: for tomorrow's water cooler

pony logo Kevin wants a Pony: Former WTA head Kevin Wulff was announced as the CEO of Pony International, LLC. I can only hope this will lead to a renaissance in Pony’s relationship with the sport of tennis; they once sponsored Tracy Austin.
(via PR Newswire)

Ana Ivanovic is on the cover of Inside Tennis‘ April issue. A paragraph excerpt available here.
(via The Ana Ivanovic Official Website)

Photomosaics are so over…: But I have a soft spot for the Japanese, so here’s an Onitsuka Tiger shoe made of photos of Japan. Every photo “links to something Japanese on the internet today…Onitsuka Tiger cannot be responsible for what you find.”

When I told you they were hot, I wasn’t kidding: Some more tidbits on Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — Nole now has retired Australian doubles player Mark Woodforde in his camp, and Andy is learning lots about exploiting his opponents’ weaknesses from his coach, Brad Gilbert.

fashion: florida oranges

venus venus radek stepanek sharapova hantuchova

How fitting that orange showed up everywhere in Miami this week, with Venus Williams, Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Sharapova, and (oddly enough) Radek Stepanek all sporting cute outfits with the bright color. It even appeared on visors, headbands, earrings, and tennis rackets.

Click here to see all the photos.

nole and andy: the young guns

So the buzz machines are all over Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic lately, the two teen players who have risen to the top of their games (leaving the rest of the under-21 set — Richard Gasquet, Marcos Baghdatis and Gael Monfils, among others — to wallow, distracted, in their wake).

I’m excited to see how this all plays out. If injuries (or dreams of making it in Hollywood, perhaps) don’t get the best of them, we’re likely in for a rivalry that will actually be, instead of the “maybe” rivalries of Federer-Nadal, Federer-Roddick, or Federer-[insert hot ATP player of the moment here].

You can read up on what Djokovic and Murray have been up to in the last two years.

Tidbits: Both are in the top 15, are a week apart in age, and actually hang out with each other. “Murray is a versatile and cagey counterpuncher who mixes his shots well and plays superior defense. Djokovic also is agile around the court but packs more firepower off the ground and has a bigger serve.”

Another difference: Djokovic has his way with words, guest blogging on his friend Ana Ivanovic‘s website for one of her matches at Indian Wells. He jotted his notes on a wide-ruled notebook, though it could’ve been wrung through a ghostwriter. Ana’s reaction to the blog post: “It’s very impressive to see that Novak can write so well in English, because it’s not even his first language.”

And Andy? Le sigh. The man doesn’t like to read.

short balls: andy roddick

roddick - aussie open 2007Roddick builds his endorsement roster: Andy Roddick joins the beverage industry fray by partnering up with AriZona Beverage Company for a new beverage that will launch later this year.
(from QSRMagazine.com)

Coca-Cola tries to spruce up: For today’s supplemental (OT) reading, here’s an article on Coke’s recently unveiled strategy to call their “carbonated” drinks “sparkling”. Jesus effin christ, what is the world coming to?
(from AdAge, via Guesswork)

Crazy fan art: Actually, not so crazy. In fact, I’m really in love with it.
(from thatjra’s flickr)

It’s not just Rafa who has the problem: Andy seems to struggle with keeping his skivvies (or his junk) in check. You can see for yourself here.
(via Towleroad’s Andy Roddick Hub)

RELATED POSTS
>> lacoste’s plan is working
>> short balls: Sports Business Journal edition
>>
a tip for mauresmo

short balls: navratilova kicks, stretches, and kicks

Navratilova's Art Grand SlamMartina Navratilova‘s people are clearly hard at work. First, the fifty-year-old opened a tennis-themed art exhibit, Art Grand Slam, at Roland-Garros (home of the French Open). She teamed up with artist Juraj Kralik, and spawned artwork whose concept lies somewhere between Jackson Pollock and Stephen Murmer.

This and this are two of my favorite pieces.

Martina also just announced plans for a tennis academy in the Czech Republic. She inadvertently criticized the current power hitters — and even the sport’s current magicians — by saying that she wants “to concentrate on a more varied form of tennis, more subtle than the style displayed by Martina Hingis, Justine Henin or Roger Federer.” Wow. Bold statement. Let’s see if she can deliver.

She’s also slated to receive a special award from GLAAD at next month’s Media Awards in Los Angeles.

RELATED POSTS
>> short bals: borg underwear model search, federer’s girlfiend, martina in philly
>> amaechi nabs endorsement

miami heats up: more players party photos

As I was falling asleep from looking at Andy Roddick at the Sony Ericsson players party, I mustered enough energy to gather everyone else’s pics. They showed up manicured, primped, and ready to kick off their week in Miami.

(If you are interested in joining a discussion about the photos from the party, you can do so at this WTA World page.)

Let’s start off with Venus and Serena Williams, looking elegant in their black (and white) dresses.

venus and serena - sony ericsson players party

More photos: Hantuchova, Jankovic, etc.