madison keys: moving better, knowing what she wants, giving back

The US Open American Express Fan Experience 2013 A decal of Madison Keys appears inside the American Express Fan Experience, a hospitality suite installed on the grounds of the 2013 US Open.

Madison Keys has better knowledge of her game. The fifth-best American on the WTA Tour has had a solid year, reaching the quarterfinals at events in Birmingham and Charleston, and making her way through qualifying before falling in the second round of the main draw in Madrid.

Keys was scheduled to face seed Jelena Jankovic in her opening match at the 2013 US Open. “I was telling people that I felt like I was going to have a seed in the first round,” said Keys by phone from her hotel in New York City. Thus, a match-up against a former World No. 1 was not a surprise. The Serbian Jankovic, who has had a resurgence in her own game after a mental refocus that started early this year, defeated Keys in straight sets.

This loss is only a slight setback to what has been a successful year for Keys, who is now ranked 39th. “Pieces of my game have come together a little better,” shared Keys. “I have a better idea of how I want to play and when I’m going to do certain things [on the court].” Keys also credits better movement on the court for her rise in the rankings.

The US Open American Express Fan Experience 2013
A fan at the US Open American Express Fan Experience watches as his tennis strokes are translated into visual art and sound.

The 18-year-old was also one of three American tennis players – Sloane Stephens and Jack Sock are the two others — showcased in the American Express Fan Experience, set up on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the 2013 U.S. Open. Of the many interactive exhibits, Keys showed interest in the display that turns groundstroke swings into music and art. We asked her what genre of music would best describe her tennis style; she said it would be “smooth” with a little crazy.

Keys was also instrumental in the erection of three new tennis courts at the Hodge Park Community Tennis CEnter in Rock Island, Ill., where Keys is from.

“I am really proud to be here today to help support this Fresh Courts program created by USTA and American Express, and to help support tennis communities like this, especially the one here in Rock Island where I grew up,” said Madison Keys to the Rock Island, IL community during the ceremony.

(Getty Images courtesy of American Express)

american express at the 2013 u.s. open

The American Express Experience at the 2013 U.S. Open

U.S. Open sponsor American Express is behind many of the initiatives that enhance the fan experience at the USTABJKNTC during the two weeks it plays host for the last major of the year. They’ve taken over a section of the Indoor tennis center, providing swing analysis, virtual tennis, an exhibit by the Hall of Fame on “Battle of the Sexes,” an IBM Data Wall, and other great ways to cool down and pass the time while at the Open. Outside of the hospitality area, Amex also offers their radio commentary (Radio Live) and TrendCast, a feature within the U.S. Open app that tracks trending topics in social media.

Read on: The full release is below the gallery (and the cut).

(renderings courtesy of American Express) [Read more...]

oops! she did it again?

Oudin knows the camera (phones) will be turned on her over the next two weeks. “Crazy things happen in NYC.” (TSF photo)

Brand Oudin is making its biggest push in New York this week, one year after Melanie Oudin wowed the New York crowds and captured the nation’s attention with her eye-popping upsets. Oudin is part of campaigns with adidas, American Express and Virgin Mobile in and around NYC to promote the Open (and said products), even though the American teen is a dismal 3-11 on tour since May.

The web was buzzing earlier this week with the announcement that Oudin would wear customized adidas shoes, this year with the word “Courage” emblazoned on them. Last year, her “Believe” shoes were a US Open obsession, spawning what many called “Melanie Mania” and setting Oudin up for commercial success with deals with companies like Virgin Mobile. The Women Who Serve blog said if it were really up to Oudin she might have wanted to chose “Forget” to go on her shoes this year… as in forget last year’s Open.

But if Oudin wants to Oops! Do it again, she’ll have to do all those things: have courage, believe in herself and forget. The New York media will be shameless in the coverage and glamorization of Oudin in her return to New York, even the girl has obviously worked hard in the gym (check the adidas link… those biceps!) but hasn’t seen results on the court. Can’t we all just leave her alone? C Note thinks that’ll help, too.

After the cut: ad shots from Oudin’s adidas customized shoe and the American Express video. [Read more...]

short balls: california girls (and boys)

TSF takes over the West Coast this week as I made the drive from Cottonwood, Idaho, (yeah, it exists) to San Francisco yesterday for a little R&R and a day at the Bank of the West Classic tomorrow in Palo Alto, at Stanford. Meanwhile, Erwin is holding court in LA for the Farmers Classic, making sure that the boys adhere to the warm weather shining on SoCal and going shirtless on the practice courts.

This week’s version of short balls comes on Tuesday, a little earlier than usual. Enjoy!

I’ll make the drive down to Palo Alto tomorrow for a day at the 40th annual Bank of the West Classic, now the longest-running women’s event on tour. Bank of the West has been the title sponsor since 1992 at this event, something that is unheard of in the days of fast-moving money. (Remember the Lipton Championships? Or the Kraft WTA Tour? Seems like centuries ago… ) The Bank of the West has been at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Pavilion since 1997, and just this year announced partnership with Rebounces, a green company that runs a tennis-ball recycling program nationwide. Balls brought in by members of the public (and those used in the tournament) will be collected and recycled by Rebounces, with the help of FedEx to get them shipped and donated to a local youth tennis program. Thumbs up to that!

There’s always plenty of tennis action on the pages of Twitter, and this week a few more tennis names added themselves to the never-ending world of Tweets. Janko Tipsarevic asked his followers to “bare” with his bad English (gladly, Janko, gladly). WTAers Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova have also joined the Twitter ranks. Anastasia is playing in Istanbul this week, whiles Kleybs was already dismissed from Stanford by a studious Ana Ivanovic. Before she was bounced outta the Bay Area, Kleybs sat down with Chris Oddo for an interview featured on On The Baseline.

The USTA announced yesterday that it is partnering with longtime supporter American Express for a program called Fresh Courts. The program will invest money in 17 different tennis courts in three urban centers, including Los Angeles, DC and New York. In NYC, the benefactors will be our friends over at McCarren Park in Brooklyn. The USTA will head up the fixing up of the courts themselves, as it oversees around 700 refurbishing projects each year.

For a little bit of a fashion fix, I’m digging this Lacoste v-neck (and the model!) I ran across yesterday. $40 online. Meanwhile, Serena might be questionable for the US Open itself, but that’s not keeping Nike from prepping itself for her outfit at said tourney. The Control Court dress (seen here via TennisConnected) is $85 and might – just might – be made famous by ReRe if she’s able to show at Flushing Meadows come late August. This is the black version of her Wimbledon get up, which helped her to her 13th slam title.

short(er) balls are happening after the cut. [Read more...]

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...]

the ultimate u.s. open mishit

Attack of the killer bluetooth(ish) headsets: Kudos to Amex for enhancing the U.S. Open experience by providing mini-TVs (which you had to return) and radios (for keeps) to their cardholders; because unless you had a text-proficient posse roaming the grounds, it was hard to know when juicy matches were playing out, even just a few courts away. The radio also streamed commentary from CBS’ and USA’s coverage of the tournament.

The one downside: the leash on those radios. Not even the beautiful Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend could save it from looking totally ridiculous. Loose, wrinkled strips of white fabric dangled from ears everywhere I turned. Function over fashion, perhaps, but rip the strap of that radio as soon as humanly possible. Gnaw at it if you have to.

(photo from the Federer/Murray final by Getty Images)

short balls tuesday

Woodforde’s back: Novak Djokovic‘s not quite done paying Aussie doubles specialist Mark Woodforde to help with the Serb’s serve-and-volley game. (SMH)

adidas will sponsor the 2012 Olympics: Now that Kim Clijsters and her Fila kit are off the map (or are they?), the Belgian Team won’t have to worry about clothing conflicts arising from adidassponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics. (SGB)

Serra Zanetti retires: Adriana Serra Zanetti announced her retirement from pro tennis, citing a foot injury from October 2005 that never healed. Career highlights include the round of 16 at the 1995 French Open and the quarters of the 2002 Australian. You’ll be missed! (AGI)

Heaven on earth: At the Thailand Open, Carlos Moya dons an apron (over us Nike U.S. Open t-shirt) and whips up some pad thai. Can he bring some to me? Oh yeah, Feliciano Lopez was there, too. (Bangkok Post, Getty Images)

Babolat’s dumb luck: See this story in NYT‘s Play magazine about how Babolat captured its share of the racquet market by being at the right place at the right time.

On the Federer brand: Roger Federer is a cash cow. And IMG knows it. Tony Godsick‘s his agent over there, but his primary manager is still Mirka. FYI. (IWtbaSA)

Sharapova gets crafty: See what Maria Sharapova considers her favorite restaurants all over the world. Included on the list is one of my personal loves, Craft Los Angeles, in Century City. (foodea.com)

Sloppy seconds: AmEx drops its partnership with Tiger Woods but the golfer shed nary a tear, I’m sure. And for good reason: he picked up a 5-year deal with Gatorade that’ll net him $100 mil. This arrangement is for selling at least three products, including a new proposed drink that’ll be named after him. (via The Austin American-Statesman)

Deuce questions for Federer: See this light Q&A.

On the last time he played a match that no one watched: “For a tournament match you’d probably have to go back to the juniors. It was only a practice set, but when I played Pete Sampras [at his house, before the Pacific Life Open in March] there were probably only three people watching.”

The last time he showed his badge at a tournament: “It happens all the time because they want to scan your badge. They go after plastic, not faces.”

And the last time he flew coach: “[Long pause] Yeah, it’s been a few years now.” Bless.