short balls: tears of joy



Dressing, acting and crying like a 12-year-old boy (all so charmingly, might we add!), Rafael Nadal embraced the World Cup in all its glory by cheering on his champs, Spain, in South Africa on Sunday. The Spanish team downed The Netherlands 1-0 to win the country’s first-ever World Cup title, and Rafa got all giddy (and shed some tears) over the futbol success. Looks as though Rafa will keep one foot on the soccer field in the near future as it was also announced last week that he is now a partial shareholder of the Real Mallorca club team.

While one future Hall-of-Famer was in Africa rooting on his countrymen, seven tennis personalities were inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame over the weekend in Newport, R.I. Most notably were the doubles tandems of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge and Natasha Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez. Brad Parks, one of the founding fathers of wheelchair tennis in America, was also honored, as were Derek Hardwick (a pioneer in modernizing the game to its current Open format) and Owen Davidson (a doubles specialist) were also inducted.

In this economy, it might be good to be a tennis player. The US Open announced that the winner of its men’s and women’s singles titles will walk home with $1.7 million each, with the chance of each winning an extra $1 million for talking the US Open Series crown during the summer. The tournament had a 7% increase overall in payout, bringing its total purse to $22.6 million. Ka-ching!

Donnay, once the racquet of champions, is trying to make a resurgence in the global tennis market. The company launched nine new racquets recently, and will use the success of Yanina Wickmayer (their only notable player) to help market the brand. The company once was a big-time player in tennis as the club of choice for Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, Margaret Court and Cliff Drysdale.

There’s a whole lotta short(er) balls and (OT) after the cut.

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Looking for Ashley Harkleroad? This might do for now.



Bless those reliable courtside photographers of the French Open — they mean business!

Enjoy…

Serena shuts up the Playboy talk with a demure dress



Serena Williams used a conservative Nike outfit — the Doubles Dress from this Spring’s tennis collection — to end the run of soon-to-be Playboy bunny Ashley Harkleroad.

The top-ranked American, who went with a heart theme for her jewelry, next faces Mathilde Johansson of France.

Buy: Nike Doubles Dress, $75 at TW.

(photos by Getty Images)

Ashley Harkleroad in Playboy’s August issue?



Hey there — back from NYC in one piece. I had lots of fun while I was away and I’ll definitely fill you in about what I did. In the meantime…

I’ve heard word that American darling Ashley Harkleroad will be appearing in the August issue of Playboy. But before you get your panties in a bunch (or try to mentally bunch up her panties), it’s not what you think: they’re just doing a profile on Ashley to coincide with her participation in the Beijing Olympics. No nudies here.

You can use this as an excuse to pick up the magazine just to read an article.

quickie before i head out to east west bank classic night 2



Venue: The Home Depot Center is definitely a great facility. There is one way for everyone to get to their seats (how egalitarian) and the space was very compact. My only beefs: the VIP suites look like guard towers and the Tennis Center is only accessible by freeways. Uhm, has anyone heard of rush hour traffic? No wonder the stands were empty at 7. Tournament organizers should really consider how spectators get to the event. I suggest setting up park-and-rides. The East West Bank Classic had gluttonous amounts of parking but no access by public transportation. That’s another for the green file.

Wrap-up: Chris and I got more than we bargained for at yesterday’s visit to the East West Bank Classic. The two outer courts (plus all the practice courts) were pretty much just open to the public by 3:00 p.m. We saw Flavia Pennetta and Maria Kirilenko hitting on one court as Sharapova (with Yuri) drilled at another. Jelena Jankovic finished up her session as we got there, and I sat courtside while Chucky worked on her serve (for a doubles match later that day with Dani Hantuchova). They beat the Chinese team of Peng Shuai and Yan Zhi).

FYI: I’ve been running into a bunch of people confused about these Chinese names. In their case, Peng and Yan are the surnames. but in Chinese you always say last name first.

Other sightings: Shaughnessy lost to Azarenka, Sugiyama lost to Safarova, and the team of Mirza and (a surprisingly untacky) Mattek beat the team of Krajicek and Husarova. I don’t know what was going on with Michaella. She was totally dead weight yesterday.

Night match was Sharapova winning when Eleni Daniilidou retired with breathing problems. (I hope she’s okay.) After that, Ana Ivanovic, wearing her pink adidas summer hardcourt outfit, beat a scrappy Ashley Harkleroad. There were a couple of good points in that match, but the rallies during the Sharapova/Daniilidou match were significantly more entertaining.

(photo via Irwin Seating)