18 crumbs from taste of tennis

And by “crumbs,” we mean people, of course. Thursday night, TSF made its way to Taste of Tennis, the yearly event that combines food, the chefs that make it and a line-up of US Open tennis players for an evening that’s quite delectable. It was our first time there, and we were lucky enough to be joined by the talented photographer Billie Weiss, who snapped all 13 of these images in this post. But while Billie took in the visuals, we worked the green carpet and nabbed a few folks for a word or two before they headed in to snarf and socialize.

Our leading man, Gilles Simon, above, worked the green carpet longer than anyone else, happily obliging to speak with every single reporter and blogger (and there were plenty of us!) along his way.

TSF: What’s been the most surprising thing about year one of fatherhood? Hardest?
Gilles Simon: Well, it’s not surprising because I wanted it. [Smiling.] The mother, she is fabulous. When I have a match and the baby is crying in the night, I don’t wake up, she will always do that. For me, I just have the good things during a tournament: I get to enjoy him and when I don’t win a match he makes me smile because he is always happy to see [me]. I tend to forget about tennis around him.

TSF: Are you guys always traveling as a unit?
GS: We are not always together. But when we are, the mother helps me a lot — she is very patient. I try to have them with me as much as possible, of course.

TSF: What’s one thing you love about coming to New York?
GS: I am from Paris so shopping is not a big deal here. [Smiling.] It’s just being here. You cannot see this city anywhere else in the world. Nothing is the same. At night, sometimes it is too much for me, but it’s only two weeks. I can do that. I really enjoy traveling in different parts of the world. New York? You can’t find it anywhere else.

TSF: Tell us what you’re doing here tonight.
Gigi Fernandez: I’m here as an ambassador for the event. I’m delighted that I get to combine my two passions: tennis and drinking. [Laughs.] No, no. Tennis and food. Rums of Puerto Rico [one of the sponsors] asked me to come tonight and I’ve done stuff with them before. I did an event with them in Washington DC that was an Iron Chef-style competition where the chefs had to prepare food using different rums. And I was one of the judges… we got to drink and eat. It was great! It’s always fun for me to represent anything Puerto Rican.

TSF: OK, you’ve made two drink reference so far. What’s your favorite drink?
GF: Mojitos. They’re my favorite.

TSF: What else are you up to these days?
GF: Being a full-time mom is a full-time job. I do a lot of corporate clinics and several events during the Open. I play in the Senior event at the Open and I did so at Wimbledon and the French Open, too.

TSF: Do you care to weigh in on the women’s side this year?
GF: I think if Serena can stay fit then she’s clearly heads above the rest. When she’s 100% she’s the best player in the world.

TSF: Have any of the younger American girls caught your eye at all?
GF: Yeah, actually. Monica Puig is a Puerto Rican player. She’s the highest-ranked American junior coming up and she’ll have a similar dilemma to the one that I had in trying to figure out who she will represent. She’s definitely the one with the most potential.

TSF: What is on the iPod these days?
Vera Zvonareva: Well, I like Rihanna a lot. I like Nickelback right now and Linkin Park. There are a couple new songs from Bruno Mars out there, too.

TSF: Do you ever try to see anyone live when you’re traveling?
VZ: That’s something that I would love to do one day. Unfortunately, it never really works out with the tournaments. When you listen to music live it’s a great feeling. It’s something that I really want to do eventually.

TSF: What about when you have an afternoon or evening to yourself? What is me-time for Vera?
VZ: I lock myself in the hotel room and put a movie on and I can watch three or four movies at a time.

TSF: And your fave?
VZ: Bodyguard.

TSF: Touché V!

TSF: Pilates or yoga? What would you go for?
Janko Tipsarevic:
I would go for yoga. I tried it once on P90X and I only made it to two days because of my schedule. I was imagining that it was going to be really easy but it really is not. It’s all about focus.

TSF: What about starting a line of your own roller-bags at some point?
JT: I would, but the company — Technifibre — they were not really a big fan of that bag. But I always say, “Why wear it over your shoulder when you can roll it on the ground?” I know I look like I’m going to the airport but it’s so much easier.

TSF: Do you think that Djokovic’s run has motivated the rest of you Serbians to play better as well?
VZ: With winning the Davis Cup, it really inspired all of us to play better. With Novak, I’m really happy to have him as a friend. I have a front row seat to see what he is doing. I’m not afraid to talk to him and see what he is doing and what he is thinking. It’s only helped me improve.

TSF: What if you could make one meal? Where would it be? What would it include?
Tamira Paszek: One meal? That I cook? I love risotto, especially before the beginning of a tournament. Like a mushroom risotto with truffle oil. I cook sometimes … it’s relaxing. At Wimbledon we rented a house and we cooked then.

Tommy Haas chatted with a few folks on the line, then made a dash for the food. Leftovers? Loved the just-showered wet-hair look.

Rafael Nadal MUST have had a change-of-shirts after sporting the same outfit at Macy’s earlier in the day. He looked surprisingly fresh-faced after the mob on 34th. Leftovers? Benito responded to a question in Spanish with Italian.

Fernando Verdasco is really looking his best we’ve seen in a long while. Love the hair, love the (lack-of) facial hair. Leftovers? Has he lost weight?!

Click for more crumbs from TOT — and Billie Weiss’ photos. [Read more…]

tsf interview: melanie oudin on peaches, school and her fave tunes


Fresh peach: Melanie Oudin. (Images courtesy of Wilson)

Though 2011 has been a rough go for 2009 US Open quarterfinalist Oudin, the Georgia peach remains a sparkly and upbeat personality on the WTA. The former adidas-clad (remember those shoes?) is now sporting Wilson, and she makes her way toward the Open with a larger question mark looming over her head: Will she have personalized shoes again?! TSF got the chance to shoot over Mel a few Qs. Here’s what she had to say:

TSF: OK Georgia girl: Fresh peaches, dried peaches or Peach Ring candies?
Melanie Oudin: Fresh peaches.

TSF: Would you rather: spend a summer at the Wilson HQs in Chicago with no AC? Or spend a winter at the Wilson HQs in Chicago with no heat?
MO: Spend a summer in the Wilson HQ’s with no AC.

TSF: What are you doing for school these days? Online classes?
MO: Right now nothing cause I’m finished with high school, but will prob sign up for some online classes next year.

TSF: The first thing you do in the morning is?
MO: Brush my teeth.

TSF Vault: Melanie Oudin | Wilson

TSF: What’s your favorite thing to wear from the Wilson clothing line collection?
MO: The capri tight pants and the Wilson dresses for matches.

TSF: You’re currently rocking out to _________ on your iPod.

MO: I’m currently rocking out to “Lose Control” by Keri Hilson on my iPod and other pop songs.

TSF: What’s one random/weird/strange/you-tell-your-friends-back-home thing that has happened to you while traveling abroad?
MO: There are a ton of weird/random things that have happened to me while traveling around the world that there’s too many to choose one.

TSF: You couldn’t vote in 2008. Who gets your ballot check in 2012? Obama? Palin? Trump?!
MO: Palin.

TSF: Say you could ask Monica Seles one thing. What would it be?
MO: Was it just a complete life-changing experience after you got stabbed? How did you recover from that? Also, how was it for you to deal with lots of pressure on the tour and ups and down?

What’s she wearing? Top:
La Divine tank with built-in sports bra. Buy: On Tennis Warehouse for $34Bottom: Garden LS pull-over zip. Buy: On TW for $25.

(ot): paris walks the plank?

Paris, unplugged: We haven’t checked in on the world of Hollywood lately on TSF and felt as though it was about time. And what better way than with Paris Hilton, the Queen of Them All? But it seems as though Queen has become Princess? Or worst yet, Minion?! Here, Paris walks out on Good Morning America when it’s suggested that Kim Kardashian might be better at life than her. Awww, Paris.

Click the image above to watch the video.

TSF Vault: Hollywood

(Screen grab via YouTube/GMA)

double(s) duty: an interview with novelist nic brown

One of the upsides to working at a bookstore is stumbling across hidden gems of the literary world. The gem I happened upon a couple of weeks ago, Nic Brown‘s new novel, Doubles, isn’t exactly hidden: the acclaimed author of Floodmarkers takes his sophomore swing with a story entrenched in the world of tennis. I got my hands on a copy of an uncorrected proof a customer was buying just long enough to jot down the title and author, and found that Brown had the thumbs up of many a folk, including The New York Times Book Review (from his prior work): “What Brown does so expertly is to summon the brief, intimate moments—the single word shared between two characters, the simple gesture that quietly reveals hope.”

Doubles was released last week, and TSF got the chance to interview the tennis-loving author via email. Check out our revealing and candid exchange from this bright writer below.

TSF: First and foremost, why name your main character “Slow Smith?” We’re obsessed with it, but there’s gotta be some calculations behind such a name. Explain.
Nic Brown: Slow is almost seven feet tall and has a ridiculously long service routine. His doubles partner, Kaz – who started playing with him when they were five years old – coined the nickname when they were kids. At the time, Kaz didn’t know much English, but he did know the word “slow” and would yell it at Smith when he took too long between serves. Hence, the nickname. It stuck. Also, because of Slow’s height, he just sort of lopes around the court in these big floppy steps.

TSF: Golden. And sure as heck better than “Bepa.” Did you take into consideration the name of famous American tennis player Stan Smith? There’s some similarity there…
NB:
Yeah, the name is a nod towards Stan Smith. I mean, I knew Slow was going to be the character’s first name, so I figured I’d make it alliterative and give him a last name that echoed Stan Smith. Also, Stan Smith’s kids played college tennis in the area [Brown is a North Carolina native] – his daughter played at UNC and his son at Duke. It seemed a fitting allusion, albeit one that is totally unrelated to the actual narrative.

We’re digging the Doubles cover, photographed by Michael Rolph.

TSF: Before we dive too far into your narrative work in Doubles, tell us a little about yourself.
NB: I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. I spent most of my time playing drums and skateboarding, but – barring skating – the only sport I played or was even remotely into was tennis. I did play quite a bit of it – losing 100% of my matches against my primary foil, Ralph Brabham from down the street – but was never on any teams or leagues or anything. I was a fan, but it wasn’t until later, when I became very close friends with the tennis player Tripp Phillips, that I started to become really obsessed with the sport, both as a spectator and player.

Read more about Doubles, and Brown’s adventuring in the world of Challenger tennis, his thoughts on tennis relationships, who his favorite players are and how he discovered John Isner 10 years before his 11 hours of fame-making.

[Read more…]