in ‘you know’ battle, jennifer proves she’s queen

Remember, you know, when Jennifer Capriati, you know, did press, you know, conferences? We do. The transcripts were littered with ‘You know’s’ all over the place. Though she’s one of the darlings of American tennis, J-Cap never really got, you know, fluid speaking down just right.

In a new PSA for the American Tinnitus Association, Jennifer and her mother, Denise, square off in The Battle of You Know’s. The elder Capriati proved no match for her daughter Jenny. In just three and a half minutes, Jennifer logged in 11 ‘You know’s’ to Denise’s two. We hope this is a sign that her shoulder is healed and, you know, she’s ready to make a comeback.

After the cut: Re-live the cute and refreshing Capriati American Express commercial, circa 2002. [Read more…]

talking tennis fashion with andrew feldman

No, that’s not Andrew Feldman you see, but don’t you dig the dude? I like the wallpaper myself. (Photo by Ulrich Kruener via flickr.)

Today I got the chance to chat with Andrew Feldman, the USTA’s National Volunteer Development Manager and a presenter at Adult Ed’s series on this coming Tuesday night at Union Hall in Brooklyn. Feldman, a self-proclaimed “non-expert” on tennis fashion, will be speaking on the “Evolution of Tennis Costumes: From Bill Tilden to Serena Williams”. Adult Ed, which bills its event as “a monthly lecture series  devoted to making useless knowledge somewhat less useless,” is a perfect fit for Feldman’s presentation: “I’m a lifelong tennis player and lifelong sarcastic observer of life.” Sounds like the perfect doubles combo! -NM

TSF: First off Andrew, tell us what you do.
Andrew Feldman:
I’m the National Volunteer Development Manager for the USTA. I’ve been here for seven years. Not a lot of people realize this, but the USTA is a non-profit organization, so I help work with our volunteers throughout the country. We do a ton of stuff throughout the country at the grassroots level and I help organize events and provide resources for our volunteers.

TSF: Awesome, sounds like a cool job. So let’s get right to your talk on this coming Tuesday at Union Hall. What’s up with using the word ‘costumes’ in the title over ‘attire’ or ‘outfits’? Was that intentional?
AF:
I guess I’m not completely sure why I used ‘costumes’, but I do think there’s an element of showmanship of what the players wear on the court. Partially, that has to do with the sponsors, but when you look at players like Venus and Serena Williams, they want to show off on court, especially Venus with [Eleven]. This isn’t necessarily new, though. We saw this 20 years ago with Andre Agassi and his crazy get-ups and refusing to play Wimbledon because it was a white-attire only event.

TSF: Tell us about your tennis background.
AF:
I grew up playing tennis; my whole family plays tennis. I grew up in the sort of Long Island/North Shore tennis world. We had matching outfits and polo shirts and tennis instructors … that’s how I got interested. This idea just kind of popped up recently. I think it’s amusing to see what the players come up with, especially at the Slams, and so why not talk about it, too?

The theme of [Tuesday] evening is “Success Stories”. I’m going to show examples of what I think are successful fashions and a few – in my humbled opinion – that are not.

TSF: It seems like tennis today has a bit of a double standard: the women are criticized for their off court involvement with fashion and modeling while it seems to be encouraged of the men, Roger Federer and all. What do you think about that?
AF:
I think there’s somewhat of a double standard. Tennis has crossed over into the celebrity and entertainment business. Coming to an event like the U.S. Open, you’re not just going to a tennis tournament, it’s a celebrity entertainment event. The whole fashion thing is a part of that. I don’t think it distracts the players really. It’s their livelihood, so they make it work on and off the court.

Read on to find out who Andrew thinks are tennis’s best and worst dressed players and his opinion on the worst tennis fashion disaster. [Read more…]

short balls: feddy whatty?

British politician Nick Clegg, second from left, is pictured back in the day playing some prep school tennis in Westminster. He’s almost as pissed as Liezel Huber. Almost. (Photo via the AP.)

Is the Fed Cup Broken? There was plenty of debate early this week about how much attention was paid to the Fed Cup ties this past weekend. I’ve got to say I was a little surprised that overall coverage wasn’t happening a little more consistently across the board. Even on the Birmingham News‘s web site you had to seek out links for the U.S.-Russia tie, which was happening right there in town! The most complete coverage? That came on the Fed Cup web site itself. Which, as an international event, is not a good sign. Bruce Jenkins pointed out some major flaws in the system (playing for next year’s groups in April; a six month gap between the semis and finals) in a piece on CNNSI.com.

Fashion in Action. We showed you last week that Vince Spadea is designing his own tees, so you gotta love this number inspired by Rihanna‘s pop-tastic hit, “Rude Boy“. If that doesn’t do it for you, head over to Brooklyn’s Union Hall next week to hear USTA employee and fashion buff Andrew Feldman talk about “how (and why) professional tennis players attire themselves for competition at the US Open and other major tennis events” as part of the Adult Ed series. You know we’ll be there. But if you can’t make it to NYC, the NYT has this confusing (and low budget) shoot to give you your fashion fix for the day.

Serena Honored, Still Missing. The WTA is celebrating Serena Williams‘s 100th week at the helm of the rankings. She becomes just the seventh woman in tour history to complete such a feat. It doesn’t seem like Serena has played in 99 weeks, but I guess we should celebrate he Slam success instead of harping on a Hingis-Ivanovic-Safina #1 sitchu, right?

Liezel, The Angry. We’re not sure if Jon Wertheim finds all these gems on the web himself or if he gets a little help from his Mailbag faithful, but he posted this video of Liezel Huber freaking out at Wimbledon a few years back after being hit by a ball struck by Nadia Petrova. The ironic thing, Wertheim notes, is that Huber and Petrova have now partnered together on the dubs circuit.

sports get artsy at the tff

The Tribeca Film Festival kicked off this last week in New York. There are plenty of feature films, documentaries, shorts and animations to go around. But don’t forget about those artists who get all sweaty — athletes. This year’s festival has put together a healthy selection of sports-related films, including the much-anticipated The Two Escobars, an ESPN film that chronicles the fanatical soccer-loving culture in the country of Colombia by intertwining two (unrelated) Escobar men.

A full film guide can be found here. Oh, and of course there’s a couple of fashion docus to check out, too. Hoping for a new tennis film? Not so much. Looks like we’re still stuck with Unstrung for now…

(photo via tribecafilm.com)

from fed to fed cup (with a spadeator in between)

Roger Federer is on the cover of ESPN The Magazine with tagline: Who’s the World’s Greatest Athlete? Roger Federer Looks the Part.

Click the image above to see a quality video of the photo shoot Fed did with the sports mag.

After the cut: Spadea shows us his t-shirt design skills and The Birmingham News captures some Fed Cup draw images you don’t want to miss. [Read more…]

digging cincy’s new digs

Thanks to media man Pete Holtermann for posting this updated picture of the construction happening in Cincinnati for this summer’s play there. Check out a full roll of pictures on the Western & Southern’s facebook page.

After the cut: who’s out of Fed Cup (other than Venus!) and what the (completed) construction looks like at the Italian Open. [Read more…]

short balls: the comfy version

The Comfortable Changeover: You gotta love the peeps at the Family Circle Cup for keeping those couches on court every year. Whether you think the things are plain hideous or completely awesome, you can’t really deny that they add a little bit of home to the court. Was this year the best couch ever? At least maybe the cleanest couch ever. After Patty Schnyder sweated all over this one, an attendant makes sure things are fresh and clean for the next gal.

Record Breakers: Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are doing their best to undue a 37-year-old tennis record: the most folks to ever watch a match. That record was set back during “The Battle of the Sexes” at the Astordome in ’73, but the two Belgian gals are set to compete for a charitable exhibition in a 40,000-seat stadium in Brussels. If you thought Arthur Ashe had bad sightlines, we’re guessing Baudoin Stadium can rival that, especially if they can pack the place.

20 Wins to a Slam Title: The U.S. Open playoffs kicked off this weekend to much fanfare throughout the country. We’ve gotta hand it to the USTA for this one: they’re giving people the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s biggest tennis event directly, and by doing so allowing grassroots tennis to grow in the meantime. The New York Times told the story of two men of different generations battling with a similar dream, while CNN-SI.com’s Bryan Graham took good survey of the quirky field and noticed that in just 21 wins, one of these Joe Schmoes could be a Major title holder.

This Time, is it Bad News? We’re wondering if winnings going up starts to be bad news at some point? Should pro tennis players really be making that much?! Wimbledon announced their new figures for the year. Ay yi yi!

Diversifying the Ladies? Peter Bodo‘s writing showed up on NBC Sports’s web site this week (anyone have inside details about this??) and he was all a-chatter about the Stosur-Zvonareva final in Charleston. Is it a game-changing moment? Perhaps the WTA is on the cusp of a more diversified, unique tour, Bodo suggests. If anything, it will be interesting to see who of the Stosur-Zvonareva-Azarenka-Jankovic-Wozniacki-Peer-Radwanksa-Cirstea crowd actually steps up their game in the not-too-distant future.

(photo by chris smith via the wta web site)

sunday survey (and a story)

The first professional tennis tournament I ever went to – or professional sporting event of any kind – was the 2002 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University in Palo Alto. My dad and I drove from my Grandma’s house in nearby San Jose for an evening session featuring Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, and my giddy 16-year-old self mistook all the well dressed 20-something guys in the crowd to be Bay Area gays. It wasn’t until later on in life that I realized they were all just metro straight guys there to watch Kournikova. A boy can dream.

The following night, I ventured to Stanford on my own, scoring a second-row ticket for the evening session that featured Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters on two separate courts. But before I went into the stadium, I took to the grounds, milling about and taking in the sights and the sounds of the tour that I had long dreamed of in my back alley as a kid.

While walking along the corridor of sponsor booths, I felt someone’s hand press against my side gently, and as I turned to see who it was, a large man pushed his way past be. I turned back around to try to understand why he had put his hand on my side, and realized he was escorting a well-known tennis gal through the crowd: Kournikova.

In the time that I realized what had happened, the moment was gone, and Kournikova – cap pulled tightly over her face – made her way through the crowd with little notice, thanks to the shadow the large bodyguard was casting over her.

My run-in with Marat Safin this week reminded me of my first tennis bump-in eight years ago. It also got me wondering: Which tennis player would you like to bump into in a casual setting the most? The least? Let us know in the comments section.