short balls: a ‘dead’ week in tennis

Summer sorrow? The three weeks between Wimbledon ending and the US Open Series beginning (Note: we understand that the USOS already began in Atlanta, but surely you can understand that it really feels like summer when Stanford and Los Angeles start, no?) can always be a bit awkward. Sure, there is the beautiful thing that is World TeamTennis, and yes, there are those random events in Europe and the historic after-Wimbledon beacon known as Newport. But this is the time of year that tennis usually takes a breather. Or, at least, tennis news. In 2011, however, not so much. Don’t believe us? Read your way through this week’s short balls – there’s plenty to be had!

Up in arms: Folks in Canada (and beyond) were up in arms over a Rogers Cup poster being used to advertise the women’s tournament as a lead in for a senior’s event that featured Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. The tag line? “[C]ome for the ladies, stay for the legends.” Wait, really? Yes, really. Busted Racquet has a good shot of the poster, which Chris Chase says isn’t really that big of a deal — arguing that the tag line just sort of sucks. And while we partly agree, it was a double slap in the face from the TSF POV: sexually charged (“come for the ladies”) and wait … you want folks to stick around for two retired legends? To us, it should be the other way around. But the Rogers folks changed it up after the outcry, instead using: “[M]aking history, re-living history.” Done and done.

Wozy’s new boo? Always a flirt on Twitter, Caroline Wozniacki might actually have a boy following through on all those winky faces and nudge, nudge LOLs. Who’s the new fella? That’d be Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the 22-year old who stormed through the golf world earlier this summer to win the US Open — you know, just around the time that Caro was crashing out of Wimbledon. But Rory has a complicated (and catty?!) ex GF (Holly Sweeney — they were childhood boos!) and when trying to make an international relationship work in the 21st century, there are only so many #missubabe hash tags that will suffice. Stay tuned.

Dulko, Lena tie the knot (but (k)not to one another): Both Gisela Dulko and Elena Dementieva were married recently, Lena’s nuptials being quite the gathering of Russian tennis royalty. WomensTennisNow.com has a bevy of pictures, and Jon Scott wrote in the Daily Spin on Tennis.com that Safina, Kirilenko, Kuzentsova, Dushevina, Vesnina Zvonareva, Kudryavtseva and Igor Andreez (Kirilenko’s beau) were all in attendance. Dementieva married Maxim Afinoginov, a Russian hockey palyer, at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.

Johnny be good. Seems as though John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg can still bring in the big bucks — and crowd. Their well-documented encounter on the World TeamTennis court last week in NYC helped raise more than $300,000 thanks to a sell out crowd. Where does the money go? To the youth, of course! “The funds raised will benefit the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which provides scholarships, coaching, tournament travel and introductory programs for area youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the Academy or to participate in recreational tennis programs,” a Sportimes release said. Dunlop and Nike are corporate sponsors of the academy, which starts its second school year this coming September.

Do you think she did it herself? Pakastani doubles expert Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi announced his engagement to Faha Akmal Makhdoom. The two, above, celebrated over the weekend. Quite the tattoo, right?! But seriously, Erwin, that should make our tattoo watch list, right?!

Time-lapse goodness. Before short(er) balls, a bit of other thread (ot) delight: the video below shows the NYTimes.com homepage in time-lapse from September of last year until this month. Be amazed.

Short(er) balls: Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish have signed up to play an exhibition match in Oklahoma City — near where Andy’s bro John Roddick is the University of Oklahoma coach — on Steptember 25. John will join the gents for a doubles exo, as well. Ticket info here. | Things are shaping up well in Cincy. The Mason, Ohio-based stops gets the men and women at the same time this year (Aug. 13-21) and has six new courts, including a 4,000-seat show court. | Remember Robby Ginepri? The oft-injured American is on somewhat of a mini-comeback. The 2005 USO semifinalist beat former world no. 2 Tommy Haas in Atlanta this week and remains in the draw. Oh, and he’s engaged, too. | Ice cream sandwiches are all the rage in NYC right now. And for good reason. | The Museum at FIT in New York is currently showing a fashion exhibit that focuses on sports wear and its (huge) influence on the rest of the fashion and clothing industry. | A 17-year-old Lexington, Ky., tennis stand out is the new face of Hollister. The teen — Chad Buchanan — has no relation to American upstart Chase. Though, his mom was runner-up in the Miss America pageant in 1984.

(Serena-Hingis image via the AP; Elena image via Sports.ru; and Qureshi image via Getty)

short balls: good bye, counselor

by Benjamin Snyder

Serena is outta the Nike exo, but staying on as a ref. Think Shino will be there to join her? (Reuters)

Forget becoming an esthetician, Serena Williams is taking on a new career as a lineswoman. The sidelined former no. 1 won’t be playing in a much-anticipated return at the Nike exhibition on March 8. Instead, she’ll be a referee. That’s tough luck for the 12,000 fans expecting to see the 13-time major champion’s form alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. Citing the foot injury that’s been kept her out since after Wimbledon, Serena released the following statement: “I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to play … as I had anticipated. I’m thrilled, however, to still be able to participate … in the exhibition as a referee during the mixed doubles.”

Is something sketchy going on here? Columnist Greg Crouch thinks so. Taking her place on court is Victoria Azarenka. With Masha and Vika both on court, make sure to bring the ear plugs, Eugene.

Pakistani dubs expert Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is flashing his pearly whites (and wavy locks) in a recent ad with CloseUp toothpaste. Seriously, Rafa and Fernando, this dude is nipping at your modeling heels. He’s just going for a – er – cleaner approach.

He’s not just a hot head, he’s also an art aficionado. Getting a custom-made sculpture in the process, tennis legend and New York City art collector John McEnroe took to the streets of Delray Beach against Mats Wilander in a game of street tennis as part of the “On the Ave” exo. Although Mayor Woodie McDuffie served as the chair umpire, it didn’t make Johnny Mac bite his tongue or keep the snide remarks at bay. He called Mayor McDuffie’s math “fuzzy” on his way to winning the TB 13-11. “I was down 2-1, and now I’m up 3-1; I like that. Is that how they count in Florida?” McEnroe quipped.

After being honored with work from artists of the Milagro Youth Center, McEnroe said, “This is definitely unique. Anybody that knows about me knows that I’m a big fan of the arts. I’ve been a collector for 30 years since I first made money playing the sport I love… The greatest compliment I’ve received as a player was that I was an artist on the court.” But seriously, what is hanging over his headboard? Oh the things we wonder.

Caroline Wozniacki has reclaimed the world’s no. 1 ranking after winning in Dubai over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kim Clijsters nabbed the distinction from Caro for just one week ago. Kamakshi Tandon and Steve Stignor volleyed back and forth on their thoughts of the flip flop. Whether the system’s flawed or not, expect much more of the Caro-Kim ranking fight in the coming months, especially with Serena playing referee.

Splitsville: “Super Mario” Ancic has called it quits on his ten-year career due to a severe back injury. According to the 2004 Wimbledon semifinalist and former world no. 7, “It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. I’m only 26 but my body said I would not be able to continue on a high level.” Although he’ll be missed on the tennis courts, expect him to put his energy into a different type of court. The University of Split law grad now plans on pursuing a career as a lawyer. So long, counselor. | TSF Vault: Mario Ancic

(serena and ancic photos by reuters)