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)

charity by design: a charm bangle for the tennis hof

Alex and Ani - Game, Set, Match Charm Bangle - International Tennis Hall of Fame

 

Jewelry brand Alex and Ani has designed a tennis-themed charm attached to their expandable wire bangle (available in Russian Gold and Russian Silver).

Giving Back: As part of owner Carolyn Rafaelian‘s Charity By Design project, 20% of all Alex and Ani sales of the Game, Set, Match Charm will go directly to the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, the non-profit organization based in Newport, Rhode Island, that is dedicated to preserving the history of tennis and honoring its greatest champions and leaders with a goal of inspiring the future of the sport.

Buy: Alex and Ani’s Game, Set, Match Charm Bangle; $28; www.alexandani.com.

andy roddick’s terra cotta twin lands in austin

Andy Roddick Foundation - Terra Cotta warrior

 

The Andy Roddick Foundation has finished its moved to Austin, Texas, now that the American’s hung up his racquet for good. One of the final things to make the trek from Boca Raton was Andy’s likeness as a Chinese terra cotta warrior, made up as a promotional campaign for the ATP Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai back in 2007. But secretly we want to know what happened to the warrior they made up for Nikolay Davydenko.

(Flashback: TSF’s interview with artist Laury Dizengremel about creating the warriors.)

Save the Date: The ARF will host its 2013 ARF Celebrity Golf Classic April 14-15, 2013, including a Bogey Down Dinner (get it?) “with Andy & Friends.”

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: 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)

short balls: tennis goes cross-country

By Benjamin Snyder

Bottom’s on top: It’s official! The classy poster of a woman scratching her derriere in flattering tennis whites has been posted as one of the all-time best-selling posters, according to a recent article in the Guardian. Model and poster will soon be reunited after 35 years for an upcoming event celebrating tennis art, writes Patrick Kingsley. Pictured above, Fiona Walker, now 52, tells all in a piece from the Telegraph. (ed. note: Meanwhile, how cute is Patrick?? TSF is always looking for more freelancers… )

Feeling bi(coastal): Indian Wells is over, and it’s time to move on to Miami for some more fun-in-the-sun at the Sony Ericsson Open. But, before we leave Cali behind, how about news on the Serb we’ve been loving lately, Novak Djokovic? Not only did he thrash Rafa in the final set to take the title, word on the interwebs is Caro has been pining for him, at least symbolically. Move over, Ana – and longtime girlfriend Jelena Ristic – this lovely lady has the ranking and the sense of humor Nole just might be looking for these days. Or do you think he’d go for more of a Fiona Walker-type?

Ballin': Tonight several top players – Nole and Rafa among them – were taking to the soccer pitch for a fundraiser for the victims of the Japan tsunami disaster. If it looks anything like the boys playing a little soccer tennis last summer, we’re sad we missed it.

World order, struck down: So while Novak’s getting the girls, the titles and playing some soccer for a good cause to boot, Roger‘s just plain losing – a lot. Ousted by the Djoker in a three-set semifinal showdown for the world no. 2 spot, Rog also succumbed in doubles with partner Stanislas Wawrinka. Fed suffered a “triple tennis blow” in Cali, says one piece. Now that’s one way to put it – and no, it doesn’t mean what you were hoping it did.

The Devil Watches Tennis: At least Roger has one Anna Wintour to comfort him. The Vogue editor is the subject of a much-talked-about Wall Street Journal magazine piece released online today. What is Anna doing in the lead image of the profile? Watching Rog – on TV.

As if they needed an excuse: Boasting like it’s some sort of change of pace, Miami is getting ready for the SEO with music, parties and … well, tennis. Is that any different than any other time of the year? Our pick: Funkshion Fashion Week. Shows happen all week long, including the Masquerade Motel on Saturday night, a beach-front show that’s already been sold out.

Little lady on the small screen: Dominika Cibulkova is being noticed for more than her small size (she’s just 5’3). For the entirety of the SEO, she’ll be a star on the online reality show Xperia Hot Shots, which is set to “follow the lives of six aspiring stars of the WTA as they try to build their Facebook fan base.” Says Domi: “It is so exciting to be part of this unique campaign … it’s a privilege to be just one of only a few girls selected for this.” While Cibulkova has 4,652 “likes” on FB, we’re curious: is that really her in the profile pic? Coulda fooled us.

(poster photo by paul grover/the daily telegraph; fed and anna by getty images)

sunday survey: a hitting partner for the ages

Tomorrow night the DC metro area will host arguably its biggest tennis event of the year as World Team Tennis puts on its annual Smash Hits charity event at American University. Billie Jean King will play the honorable hostess, joined by a cast of tennis (and non tennis!) greats: Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, Anna Kournikova and Elton John. A good friend of TSF is DC-bound for the evening of big time tennis and big(ger) personalities.

It got us thinking: If you could play tennis with any one individual from throughout history, who would it be and why?

Don’t like our options here? Create your own in the comments section.

(photo by Patty Boh via flickr)

caterpillar rolls and cat-eye glasses: bryan bros concert tonight!

Hey, Angelenos: if you find yourself without plans tonight (put off assembling that Halloween costume!), consider dropping by Wokcano to hang with the Bryan Brothers. The duo’s teamed up with the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program for a weekend of programming including a concert and a tennis tournament.

You’ll stay: Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for tonight’s show, which’ll feature performances by Lisa Loeb, Pete Yorn, and the Bryan Brothers Band (featuring Counting Crows drummer Jim Bogios), among others. They’re taking a $25 tax deductible cover at the door. Get more info and plan your dinner.

The tourney: Tomorrow (Saturday), the twins are hosting the inaugural Bryan Brothers Grand Slam Jam, fka the WME2 Tennis Classic, at the Malibu Racquet Club. Events include a round-robin doubles tournament, a family clinic, and a pro-am (with Sam Querrey). There’s also a silent auction and an exo with Lindsay Davenport.

Info: Bryan Brothers Grand Slam Jam, Saturday, October 23, 2010, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; 23847 Stuart Ranch Road, Malibu, Calif.; benefitting The Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program and the Bryan Brothers Foundation. More info at the event website.

(poster courtesy of K-Swiss)

short balls: the weekender

We’re doing a weekend edition of short balls because the US Open calls for us to be a little more on top of our games, something that Jelena Jankovic couldn’t quite do in the third round on Saturday. Do you guys ever think this girl is going to win a Slam? Will she be the formidable #1 she was a few years ago or was it just a flash in the pan? I’m curious to see what sort of trajectory her career now takes on. She’s sort of hit an official slump, no?

No such slump is happening for Francesca Schiavone, at least not anymore. The French Open champ struggled since winning in Paris, going 3-6 over the summer and coming into the US Open with a giant question mark looming over her head. But earlier this week, Schiavone hits a jaw-dropping shot that matched that of Roger Federer from night one of the Open. Running down a baseline lob from Alona Bondarenko, Schiavone tagged a ball between her legs that went zooming back over the next and help her win the point. As Sports Illustrated writer Brian Armen Graham noted, Schiavone was humble as usual: “”Is nothing programmed. Is just instinct. Is art.” Artful, indeed.

More art is happening in the form of photo galleries, three of which caught my eye over the past week. Tennis.com has a gallery up of past US Open magazine covers from their 30-plus years on the newsstand, which also chronicles the price rise of magazines over the years (if your eye can catch them in small print). Meanwhile, the NYT has a (OT) slideshow up of the Oval Office through the years, just in time for the Office to get a face-lift. Pretty cool. And Prince has a great photo album up on facebook featuring week-one shots of their players at Flushing Meadows.

More short balls after the cut. [Read more...]

housing works gets athletic

First off, let me be professional for just a minute… and say that, for full disclosure, I work for Housing Works at their bookstore in Soho. Housing Works is a tremendous non-profit in New York that benefits homeless New Yorkers living with HIV AIDS. As a non-profit that runs on a social entrepreneurship model, we’re always looking for new ways to bring in bucks for the tremendous services that we offer our clients. Below are two events over the next four days that NYers can plug into. If you’re not in NYC and just want to learn more about HW in general, here’s our homepage.

Wimbledon on the Hudson – A Tennis Tournament Benefitting Housing Works is the first-ever tennis tournament fundraiser that Housing Works has put on and it’s happening this coming Monday, June 14th from 6 to 9 PM. Though the tourney itself is happening on the East River (Roosevelt Racquet Club, to be exact) and not the Hudson, we still thought the name rang well with the big thing happening across the pond in one week’s time. This isn’t a tournament for the serious of the serious though, it’ll be a light-hearted affair to hit and giggle over some strawberries and cream. Players are asked to pay a $150 entry fee (all money benefitting HW), while audience members are welcome to buy $25 tickets to chomp on those strawberries and sip on some flutes of champagne.  A raffle includes prizes from the USTA, Wilson, Fila, Tennis Magazine and Mason’s Tennis Mart.

More slammin’ Housing Works events after the cut. [Read more...]