flashback: agassi wins his first, 1992

The same outfits today? Andre Agassi gets inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today in Newport, R.I. It’s no surprise that Agassi, who won eight career Slams, was the no. 1 trending topic on Yahoo! this morning. The dude has done a lot, no? We couldn’t help ourselves from putting up this pic, which has several meanings. Our first thought? That’s really a wig?! Yep, according to Andre it was. And there he is with Steffi Graf, seven years before they would both win the French Open and kindle their romance for good. As for tennis significance? Wimbledon 1992 was Andre’s first Major, and one that he wrote in his book was most unexpected for him — he wasn’t favored to win — and he finally shook off the disbelievers when it came to his early success translating onto the big-time court. Oh right, and the next year Barbara Streisand was there, too. Who doesn’t love a Wimbledon champ?! Congrats, Andre! | TSF Vault: Flashbacks | Andre Agassi

Favorite Agassi moment? Vote on TennisFame.com

(Image via AELTC archives)

short balls: the post-wimbledon edition

Changing of the (screen) guard: While the victories of Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic marked somewhat of a changing of the guard on the respective tours, the biggest change at Wimbledon came in the week after the tournament was over: in its TV coverage. It was announced earlier this week that ESPN had outbid NBC for full TV rights of the tournament, meaning the peacock network was pushed out of a gig it had held for some 43 years. And for ESPN? They’ll have the whole shebang for the next 12 Championships. The network team of ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will take over from London starting next year.

That’s a wrap? Did you miss the slew of Wimbledon post ops? If so, here’s a collection: Tignor’s A-List. Tignor’s the rest of them. Wertheim’s mail bag. ESPN’s Wimbledon grades. ESPN’s power rankingsWTA’s video highlights. Forty Deuce’s hilar “pic this.” The Guardian. Oh! The list goes on and on…

Too sexy for ya?  Time ran an interesting piece from its business section on the WTA‘s ad campaign, “Strong is Beautiful.” The thrust of the article: what the ?!?#?#%% Well, not exactly. But, the article points out that sexualizing the women the way this campaign does undermines women’s sports in a sense, and their ability to compete as athletes on court. We certainly see such a point.

The Journal recommends some tennis whites — including Boast — this summer. (WSJ)

Feeling Boastful? You guys know that TSF isn’t the only place online that talks about tennis fashion. OK, but we admit it: we’re the only ones that talk about it everyday. Anyway, the Wall Street Journal got in on the tennis fashion game during Wimbledon, running a piece that examined the cultural shift of the industry as it’s moved through the decades. Nope, tennis isn’t a rock-star sport driven by John McEnroe anymore, but the clothes he wore might be making a bit of a comeback. Featured in the article were one of TSF’s faves, Boast. | TSF Vault: Boast

Doesn’t it vibrate? While most of us have learned to silence our phones or at least put them on vibrate while at work or in public, it doesn’t seem as though Alize Cornet has attained such a habit. The Frenchwoman was down match point in the first round of the Swedish Open this week against world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki when a phone started ringing. Wozy first tried to ignore the noise, but it persisted, and she stepped back from the line to see if someone would answer/silence/ignore the call. It was then that her opponent, Cornet, ran to her bag to switch off the phone that had been ringing — hers! Hilarity. Video below:

Roll the tape: Seems as though the fellas at Tennis.com — Peter Bodo, Steve Tignor and Ed McGrogan — have a new outlet for their weekly chats. The trio has teamed up with BNP Paribas for a sit down in a round-table discussion called “The World of Tennis.” This week they talk about Andre Agassi, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame tomorrow in Newport, R.I. | ESPN: Agassi’s top 10 moments

Short(er) balls: It ain’t “Wimble-TIN.” Sportscaster raises money for charity by fueling PSA over pronunciation of Wimble-DON. | In case you forgot, Novak Djokovic is no. 1 in the world now. HEAD hails the king. | Are you reading Jonathan Scott‘s musings on Tennis.com’s “The Spin?” If not, you should be. | Lindsay Davenport is preggers and (tastefully) pulls out of the WTT season, via doctor’s orders. | This might be a little old, but who cares? It’s Maria Sharapova talking about Cole Haan. Take note, Martina Hingis. | Shouldn’t every short(er) balls end with Djoko dancing on stage? We think so.

(Image by George Ellison via Flickr.)

short balls: finals weekend awaits


Two to go.
Before we turn the corner to the weekend, there’s plenty happening outside of Paris that has caught our eye the last few days. The June/July issue of Tennis View has Andre Agassi on its cover (full disclosure: I wrote one of the articles in the mag), talking about the American’s upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame. Agassi made his own headlines just yesterday, announcing that he  has teamed up with investors to form a fund for independent schools to use for building new or improving old facilities. Agassi is famous for his charter school in Las Vegas, and will join forces to form the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, which has some $750 million in the bank to fund projects it pre-approves.

Summer cinema.
To our readers who are in the Northeast, perhaps you might like this social activity from the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Newport-based org is hosting a preview screen of the HBO Sports documentary McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice. The screening is happening this coming Thursday, the 9th, at the Casino Theatre on the ground of the HOF. More about the movie: “Thirty-one years after the stirring Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final that earned Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg a place among history’s great sports battles, HBO Sports looks back at their unforgettable rivalry of the ’70s and ’80s.” How do you get in? The 7 PM screening is free for ITHF Members, and included with Museum admission of $11 for Non-Members. Seating is limited and reservations may be made by emailing programs@tennisfame.com. The documentary will premiere on HBO on Saturday, June 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Boxing on Broadway.
Love the Rocky theme music? How about Rocky the musical? It’s actually in the works. The production, which went through a New York reading this spring and is in the beginning stages of production, hopes to land on Broadway by spring of 2013. Sylvester Stallone is no doubt involved in the project, which will first debut in Germany before coming to Manhattan.

Not enough Nike.
Think the Swoosh dominates the world? They don’t. Nike looks to move into sports it hasn’t penetrated much yet, like skate boarding and surfing. | TSF Vault: Nike

Inspire us.
Sometimes sports stories can just change the way you think about life, period. Strong stuff on Yahoo’s high school site, RivalsHigh.

Want.
Nothing better than a little Friday retail therapy. We’re loving these locally-made mini wallets from Seattle. These Laura Bee Designs ditties are made by hand with lace and leather (no, really) and just $14 + shipping.
(Agassi image via robtee7 on Flickr; Laura Bee Designs screen grabs)

short balls: design(ed) to entertain

What’s good design without good people: Designer James Huniford, Iman and GMA‘s Lara Spencer. (Getty)

For the few fervent TSF readers we have out there (what, are there a couple dozen of you?), you’ll know that our TSF East team (that would be me, Nick) worked at Housing Works for two years in SoHo. The AIDS non-profit has a different way of doing things with their social entreprenuerial outlets and also hosts one heck of a party, which is where I found myself on Thursday night.

The Design on a Dime event happens every spring and brings together interior designers from across the industry. Nate Berkus was a host this year (he’s shorter in person than you would think, but the hair doesn’t disappoint!) and brought together a few dozen designers to put together rooms (bathrooms, kitchens, living and bed rooms) that are then for sale — that’s right, every item in each room, from each lamp to table to painting to rug — is for sale. And all the money goes back to Housing Works’ AIDS programming.

As I volunteered on Thursday night, I got to tour around with Bravo’s Andy Cohen and go through a couple rooms with him. We debated on a couple chairs that he was eyeing, and when I saw him later he whispered “I got that chair!” with a little bit of hesitation in his voice. I approve, Andy. The piece he bought was a striped deck chair with gorgeous, 70s-inspired dark wood in the arms and legs. A picture? Don’t have one. But  my fave item of the whole night (I think it was retailing for $1,000) was a Cohen-influenced piece of art: the original six from The Real Housewives of New York City. Knock a zero off that price and I’m there!!!

Ramona and Alex made (late) appearance at the event, and though we couldn’t get the gals to go pose by their own portraits, you can bet that they were making the party rounds. More drama: If you haven’t been following the Sampras-Agassi blow up recently, it’s reached the level of Real Housewives dramatics. Jeez! These boys could even tire out the Countess!

For New Yorkers: The Free Public Sale goes on today through 6 PM

More shopping: NYMag‘s full line-up of New York sales this weekend

Tennis, too: It’s been a good year for Blake Strode. Last year, the now-23-year-old looked bound for (Harvard!) law school before entering the USTA’s first ever national play-in for a spot at the U.S. Open qualifying draw. He won nine matches to claim his spot in the qualies, where he won his first round match before bowing out. Not bad, eh? Well the journeyman is still at it in 2011, making a second go around at the playoff starting next weekend at Yale, the site of the New England Sectional. Plus: Blake’s ATP page

(Painting image by TSF)

the all-england hair club for men

By Troy Venechanos

A few months ago, Andy Roddick hit what he called one of the best shots of his career. It was a diving save, one in which Roddick smacked a forehand down the line on match point to win a third set tie-breaker against up-and-comer Milos Raonic and capture the Memphis title. And while the web went abuzz with the video of the shot, many viewers weren’t actually watching Roddick’s shot. Instead, they were paying attention to a cap-less Andy, his hat having fallen off in his exertion of effort. And what was there to see? Not much, actually. An almost-bald Andy.Hair loss and tennis go hand and hand. Male pros often play into their mid or late 30s, meaning as they start to lose their hair, it’s left for all the public to see. Andre Agassi freaked out about it so much that he donned a fake hairpiece that had the world fooled. Pete Sampras has been so nonchalant about his after-career hair thinning that he doesn’t even seem to notice.

But we notice – we always notice. TSF has collected the hairdos (and don’ts) from around the tour in what we’re calling “The All-England Club for Men’s Hair Loss,” where styles differ from member to member, but everyone has one thing in common: they’re going – or already are – bald.

TSF GALLERY: The All-England Hair Club for Men

Troy Venechanos has conquered the worlds of junior varsity tennis, tennis internships and tennis photo-blogging. The New York native and TSF contributor hopes to next master “that cool way players can pick up tennis balls using the sides of their feet.” He is a graduate of Northeastern University. TSF vault: Troy Venechanos

strokin': when tennis met music

By Jonathan Scott

It may not be tabloid fodder like every Taylor Swift dalliance, and it’s not nearly as insufferable as Brangelina, but the marriage between music and tennis is itself a storied love affair. It stretches across decades and genres, and it knows no bounds – well, none other than those pesky white lines.

Try to set aside the disappointment that the artist Sergey with the song “Tennis” on iTunes is actually not Vera Zvonareva‘s ridiculously good-looking model/coach. And, however possible, repress the memory of Justine Henin‘s song-and-dance scareoke on TV. Yes, Novak Djokovic and Ivo Karlovic have tried their tongues at rapping, as has Vince Spadea with amusingly deplorable results, but that doesn’t mean you should try it at home after perfecting your Djokovic-ian down-the-line backhand, does it?

As the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival just wrapped its annual song-a-thon in Austin, Texas – soon to be the site for a volatile USA vs. Spain Davis Cup tie in July – here’s the skinny on the latest hot shots in tennis-tinged music and an homage to some of the greats.

Best Newcomer: James Blake is a dub-step soulman and a veritable crooner. The British JB, that is. His American counterpart is a best-selling author and owner of a laser forehand whose best days are past, but Blake the Brit is taking the music world by slow-burning storm, releasing his rave-reviewed eponymous debut in February and – well before that – igniting the blogosphere with his faithful but quirky cover of Feist‘s “Limit to Your Love.” Let’s just pray that, when we hit up a James Blake concert sometime, his fans aren’t half as annoying (adorable?) as the American Blake’s J-Block can be in the tennis stands.

Dainty she is not. Our fave album cover from Blonde Readhead’s 23. (Image via band website)

Best Dressed: Sometimes it’s okay to judge a band by its cover. Oxymoronic indie rockers Blonde Redhead out of New York City put out the best, most elegant tennis-themed album art when they dropped 23 in 2007. But, no, the song “Top Ranking” has nothing to do with disputed no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Worst Dressed, but Best Sound: Yea, there is a band simply called Tennis, a married duo specializing in ’60s surf-pop for 2011. This act released its debut Cape Dory in January, and though the song “Marathon” doesn’t harbor the words “Isner,” “Mahut” or “Wimbledon” anywhere in the lyrics, it’s solid stuff. Consider it your soulful throwback soundtrack for this summer – but steer clear of wearing skintight aqua as with the album cover. It looks like leftover fabric from a hideous Nadia Petrova creation.

Best Tournament Run: This has to go to the ginger-haired heroine in the video for Vampire Weekend‘s “Giving Up the Gun.” She rips through a draw that includes Joe Jonas, a Daft Punk-helmeted doubles team, and even a flask-swilling Jake Gyllenhaal in tear-away pants. It’s a great song, and the immaculately-white indoor court is sharp – even if the choked-up strokes from the damsel look laughably bad in reality. Girl, who taught you to grip a racquet like that? Topping it off: RZA from Wu-Tang Clan serves as the chair umpire, and Lil Jon offers astute on-court coaching. Brill.

TSF Vault | The many lives of tennis-themed music vids

Best Clay-Court Match: French DJs Martin Solveig — oddly in tasteful Wimbledon whites — and Bob Sinclar, sporting some hot-magenta vintage-Agassi styles, squared off on Roland Garros‘ red dirt for the video for Solveig’s dance track “Hello” sung by Dragonette. The match and music video are both visceral, a veritable heartbreaker. Check out the cameo by that flashiest of the current French tennis stars as he comes on the scene and devastates the darling DJ.

Hello? Could Martin Solveig look any cooler? We think not. (YouTube screengrab)

Best Charity Hit: Andy Murray and Thom Yorke of Radiohead teamed up for charity single “Two Minute Silence” to benefit serving and former British troops and their families. Strangely enough, its title is no lie. “Hear” — but really just see — it here. British Prime Minister David Cameron and more also got in on this quiet riot. Truly the oddest not-quite-a-band lineup ever, but hey, can’t wait for their episode of “Behind the Music.” Finalist: Wozniacki put out a charity single called “Oxigent” (or “Oxygen”) to benefit Danish and Polish Paralympic athletes. Because, you know, she has oodles of free time.

Top Passing Shot: Meg Baird‘s lovely, lilting “Waltze of the Tennis Players.” It’s just pretty, and we do pretty.

More of Jonathan’s music musings (including “Best Grunt” and “Best Musical Ode to a Tennis Player”) after the cut. [Read more…]

he said, he said: delray tourney director & andre agassi

Above, a previously unshared photo of Douglas Hoekzema‘s work at the Delray Beach ITC. Check out that wall, y’all. (photo by Peter Vahan via primaryflight.com)

“We do this to embrace community and show off the talent this town has. It’s the smallest city of any on the ATP Tour, but has the most flavor block for block for sure. It’s all about creating a lasting positive memory that people can leave with whether they’re a core tennis fan or someone seeing our space and athletes for the first time. Amazing art, VolleyGirls, killer local bands, on-court seats, convertible Porsches on-court that fans watch matches in… it’s all groovy at ‘the beach.'” -John Butler, Executive Director of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships

Agassi arrives yesterday in DC to shoot a USTA promo with First Lady Michelle Obama. (Max Blodgett)

Andre Agassi today gave a teleconference in preparation for the BNP Paribas Showdown. When asked about Pete Sampras and the two stars’ awkward moment at last year’s Hit for Haiti, Andre had this to say: “Our relationship is strictly platonic, I’ll say that.” [Laughter] “Hit for Haiti was an unfortunate night that was of my doing. I had a microphone at my mouth for too long… I just called him and apologized. No one regretted it more than me.”

short balls: guest appearance

Short balls is making a weekend appearance, so don’t get too worked up… But you might be excited to hear – maybe you should be sitting down for this – that Marv Albert is joining CBS‘ team for its March Madness coverage. You tennis fans remember Marv, don’t you? He’s the basketball commentator that was tapped by TNT in 2000 to help the network at Wimbledon. His famous making-a-tough-jumpshot phrase (“Yesssssssssssss!”) didn’t really translate well to the game of ball and racket. At all. That reminds us: TNT was once the home of Wimbledon?! Oh how things change in 10 years.

Earlier this week it was announced that Andre Agassi will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer in Newport. The announcement didn’t come as a total shock to anyone, though the Hall did put together a great video to capture the events that took place in Las Vegas for the announcement itself:

Short(er) balls: We stumbled across this site of gents being sampled from all walks of life. Even Novak Djokovic gets a piece of the action. | And if you ever consider leaving a nasty comment, we will track you down…

Picture this: You guys missed Heineken Day. But these fellas didn’t.

(photo via ao.com)

video: the trick shots keep comin’

Agassi unplugged: This Andre Agassi video from HEAD touts the former pro’s tennis superpowers — filmed with no special effects.

We here at TSF are soooooooooooooooo over trick shot videos (thanks for nothing, Roger Federer!), but since we’re having a glass-half-full kind of day, we give HEAD props for thinking this one out. Andre’s video is set in a serene, quiet court — reflective of his current mellow elder statesman persona — and has him hitting net posts with a ball struck from all over a tennis stadium. (BTW, he’s hitting with the YouTek Six Star racquet.)

Meanwhile, Andy Murray‘s piece, which came out earlier this year, had the Scot roaming the streets of London while performing goofy tennis tricks. Muzz is always so serious (esp. at press conferences), so it’s nice to see that grill once in a while. (Video: Murray’s Street Magic)

bury the hatchet or fuel the flame?

It has just been announced that this coming February’s BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden — in 2010 an event contested by Venus, Ana Ivanovic, Kim Clijsters, and Sveta Kuznetsova — will this time feature Agassi, Sampras, Lendl, and McEnroe in a renewal of their classic rivalries.

John and Ivan will play a one-set pro match (first to eight) and the Agassi/Sampras matchup will be a best-of-three. TSF’s curious to see how the latter will pan out, especially in light of Andre’s malfunction at Indian Wells this year. (Hey, if Kournikova and Hingis can kiss and make up, why can’t these two?)

But not to take away from the event’s a noble cause: to bring awareness to our sport through the “Tennis Night in America” initiative, a collaboration between BNP Paribas and the USTA.

Info: For more info about the event, to be held on February 28, 2011, visit tennisshowdown.com.