tsf interview: jim courier on davis cup, escaping nyc and his first year of marriage


That’s no sound stage. Behind that HSBC classic? A grass tennis court — in Manhattan. (TSF photos)

HSBC‘s “Wimbledon 2011 at Rockefeller Plaza” bestowed Manhattan with its only grass tennis court — even if it was just for one week. The yearly event has run this entire week while Wimbledon itself rocks out across the pond, the real-grass playing court sitting nicely between 50th and 51st making the city that hosts the down-and-dirty U.S. Open feel a little dignified for a few days.

On Monday, TSF took the trip down to Rock to check out the set-up, which only begins at the grass court. The Wimbledon experience is in full-force, with a big screen set up to watch the week one action, Prince stringers available to re-tune your racquets, Wii tennis to play and strawberries and cream (but no Pimm’s!) served up by period-dressed Wimbledon fashion folks (see pictures below) to round out the SW19 feel.

While the court will disembark as of Friday, Monday saw Monica Seles and Jim Courier kick off the event with a little hit and giggle together and with ogling fans. Before the two hit the court, TSF (full disclosure: I was there covering the event for TSF and TennisWire.org) caught up with Courier and Seles both.

More: Our off-the-cuff interview with Monica

TSF: The Davis Cup tie against Spain on July 8-10 in Austin is huge for you guys. Tell us what about that.
Jim Courier: 
I’m not going to Wimbledon but I went to the Queen’s Club tournament for three days and I got to see the guys play on the grass there. I’m disappointed that Sam Querrey has an elbow injury that he had to have surgically repaired and he won’t be an option for us. We have five good options, though. We have Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Bob and Mike Bryan. We’ll have four of those five players on the court ready to do battle with the Spaniards.

TSF: Do you guys hope to have a big, raucous crowd there?
JC: 
Tickets sold out in about two and a half hours … 15,000 seats for three nights. 45,000 tickets! We’ll play on a fast indoor court that will meets ITF specifications and it’s going to be high energy and high passion.

TSF: How big is this tie for hometown boy, Andy Roddick.
JC: 
This is probably the only time that Roddick is going to get to play a real Davis Cup match at home.

TSF: You’re a New York City resident. How do you enjoy the summer here?
JC:
I love Central Park. I love getting there when I can. It’s sort of a magical place among the concrete jungle that we live in. I have a car in the city so I’m able to get out into the suburbs and see some different things, play some golf and go to the beach.

TSF: What about tennis? Where do you play?

JC: I play my tennis at Randall’s Island or Long Island City.

TSF: What big plans have you made for your one-year wedding anniversary? [Courier married former tennis player Susanna Lingman in August, 2010.]

JC: Yeah, I don’t [have anything planned]. I haven’t thought too much about it. Hopefully I’ll get a little surprise. [Laughing.]

TSF: You’ll leave the plans to her then?

JC: Yeah, that’s her responsibility. [Smiling.]

TSF: OK, I have to ask: who are your picks for Wimbledon?

JC: I like Rafa assuming that he’s not playing Djokovic in the final. If Djokovic is in the final against Rafa, I like Djokovic.

TSF: And for the ladies? That’s a little more difficult to pick.

JC: The women is a much harder pick. If Serena makes it through to the second week she’s the favorite. Otherwise, I think I like Sharapova this year. The younger, talented players have not proven to us that they can hold their nerve in the moment. They have the talent, but they haven’t proved that they can hold their nerve. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Check out more shots of “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza” after the jump.

tsf interview: monica seles talks twitter, figure skating and her love of fashion

I cannot tell you how many thousands of hours I have spent hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Recently, I moved to Harlem in Manhattan and have discovered that there are hand ball walls just two blocks away from my new place. My afternoons? Now often spent hitting the ball against the wall, with curious walkers by baffled that I’m not playing hand or racquet ball.

Much of this fascination is due to the fact that when I was just 12 I read Monica SelesFrom Fear to Victory, the book that chronicled her life into tennis — including her love of hitting the tennis ball against a wall in a parking lot below her family’s apartment.

This last Monday I got the chance to talk to Monday for the third time in my short, young career as a journalist. I was visiting HSBC‘s “Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza,” a week-long event that the Wimbledon-partnered bank has put on for several year that allows Manhattan to boast a grass court in the city — even just for one week.

It was here that I (full disclosure: I was on a media pass both for TennisWire.org and TSF) got to talk to both Monica Seles and Jim Courier. For more on the HSBC event and it’s details, see the Courier post here (or scroll up).

TSF: Monica, what about social media? Why aren’t you tweeting up a storm?
Monica Seles: 
I don’t think anybody would care what Monica Seles is eating or what she’s doing.

TSF: [Laughing.] Monica, are you kidding?! I think you’d be surprised.
MS:
I’m an old dinosaur. [Twitter] is more all of these reality show stars that everyone watches. This is how this generation that has shifted. We didn’t have reality TV when I was growing up and now they’re the biggest stars. I really enjoy [my time away from the computer] because I’m on it a lot for work, but you kind of have to. My 10-year-old godson is tutoring me on the computer of how to navigate everything.

TSF: But you did Dancing With the Stars, so you’re sort of a reality star. What about trying Skating With the Stars?
MS:
 I couldn’t even [dance on] dry land! [Laughing.]

TSF: But you skated as a kid, right?
MS:
Yeah, I skated for about a year and a half. That’s what I wanted to be. I loved it. I loved the costumes and all the glamor stuff. But I haven’t been on ice skates since I was 8 years old. I think being on Dancing With the Stars was enough. [The show] was more about art and how you look and how you present yourself. In tennis I didn’t have to worry about where the camera was or what angle to smile at. I loved [Dancing] because it was so out of my comfort zone.

TSF: What about favorite figure skaters. Do you have any?
MS:
I always liked Kristi Yamaguchi in skating and she was on Dancing with me. And I always liked Nancy Kerrigan, too.

TSF: So you didn’t get to design figure skating costumes, but you still love fashion. Do you ever see yourself diving into it like Venus Williams or Maria Sharapova have?
MS:
[Fashion] is something I enjoy looking at, but I don’t know. Tennis is really hard because all of the big companies have kind of taken over. I love it when you see the girls come out [for the players’ parties] and you want to see what everyone is wearing. Now, it’s going to be more and more daring. At Wimbledon all the girls got all dressed up and it allows the fans to see the girls in a different light — I like that.

TSF: Did you see Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ dress?
MS:
[Laughing.] No… but I heard about it. I saw Maria’s and Ana Ivanovic‘s. Ana was very classy.

TSF: What is one thing that you must do when you’re in New York in the summer?
MS:
I love Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. It’s really nice to just sit and be outside — I love being outside. You can sit there on a nice day and just have your friends eat with you — that’s my favorite.

TSF: Do you ever think there’s going to be a young star again? WTA success seems to be coming at an older age these days.
MS:
Oh yeah. The tour has their age regulations, but there are always going to be young girls coming up who are powerful. Martina was powerful. And then Stefani. And then me. Then the Williams sisters came along. I think the sport always evolves. Maybe age mentally — how you manage success and fame and money — but otherwise, I think we’ll always have young players coming up.

(tsf photo)

summer monday? spend it with monica and jimbo

Courier serving things up at the Rock in 2009. (Getty photo)

NYC greenery: Plenty of New Yorkers (and Americans, we presume) have “summer Fridays.” You know the idea: it’s freakin’ nice outside so employees get to peace out for all or part of Friday to frolic in the sun. While we appreciate such a gesture from the higher ups, before you go off sunbathing and boozing before 5 pm today, you might want to re-consider utilizing those free hours this coming Monday.

It is, after all, day one of Wimbledon, which means you could wake up at your usual ungodly time and take in some of ESPN 2’s coverage of day one at The Championships. After a few hours of tubing, you’ll be itching to get outside (it is summer, after all!) and we’ve got just the solution for you: Monica Seles and Jim Courier, playing some grass-court tennis at Rockefeller Plaza. Seles and Courier hit the court at noon on Monday for what should be an entertaining hit and giggle, former ESPN commentator and Tennis Channel buff Brett Haber will emcee.

Can’t make it Monday? There’s more: Play (yes, you! Play!) on Manhattan’s only grass court Monday through Friday. To reserve a court call (855) 688-7715. Can’t find the right bounce on the grass? Prince has pros who will be there to touch up your game. The sched? Monday 4 to 5 and Tuesday through Friday noon to 1 and 5 to 6. Plus: Get your racquet re-strung Monday through Friday between 11 and 1; eat some special strawberries and cream all week long; and play some Wii “Grand Slam” tennis. Find out all the info of HSBC’s Wimbledon at Rockefeller Plaza here.

that's a wrap: re-hashing davis cup

By Benjamin Snyder

Good job, team America. Andy “The Closer” Roddick pulled through against Chile under the guidance of new Davis Cup captain Jim “The Rock” Courier. And a new American frat squad has been born.

The real story, however, lies in the following five moments that mattered most. Sorry, Judy Murray, this weekend’s high intensity was a far cry from your beef with a future tie being in “Eazzzztbourne.”


Step aside Gilles, you aren’t French Davis Cup’s winner this week — actually far from it. Instead, Jeremy Chardy came out on top (and without drama), winning the deciding fifth match against Austria’s Martin Fischer 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3. Chardy can now say he not only helped France advance (although Tsonga, Monfils and Gasquet had to be hurt to give him the chance) but he also won in an airplane hangar: number three to be exact.

How about some Serbian success? Ilija Bozoljac, who tested Federer at Wimbledon last year, backed up his funky game — he plays two-handed on both wings — with a big win in a four-set doubles thriller against India with partner Nenad Zimonjic. Plus, he looked really good doing it.

Seriously, we can’t make this stuff up. (via ilija-bozoljac.net)

[Read more…]

short balls: elena waves good-bye

Elena Dementieva is waving good-bye to the WTA Tour after a dozen years on the tour, which saw her greatest moment in 2008, at the Beijing Olympics. But while Dementieva might be most well-known to tennis enthusiasts as the greatest chica never to nab a Slam, you can bet she will be a missed force on the tour. No one else played with such maturity and poise, and even the shaky serve was made up for by that blazing forehand. Can you remember an Elena diva moment? Neither can I. I got the chance to watch Elena in person this summer – and if you never had the chance to watch this girl up close, I’ll give you one descriptive word: athlete - and she was a joy to watch. The tennis may have been flawed at times, but the heart was always there. Can’t wait to see what comes next for the Muscovite. Survey study: Of the 158 folks that responded to our Sunday Survey, 38% said they thought Elena would announce she’s pregnant come Thanksgiving. OK, riiight.

Courier calls: A variety of responses sprung up from the naming of Jim Courier as the new US Davis Cup coach last week. Greg Garber was questioning the call already over at ESPN.com, while L. Jon Wertheim was giving the nod to the Courier appointment in his Monday post this week. Our call? Well, we’re not so sure it matters who captains. Wertheim pointed out that four Americans sit inside the top 22 (Roddick, Isner, Fish and Querrey), and while the time may have passed for Roddick and his Davis Cup days, the Bryan Brothers look committed. The bigger question is: what will the Isner, Fish and Querrey era bring? Those are the boys that seem invested as Courier takes the reigns.

Retirement footnotes: While Elena’s announcement shocked a few and left others unsurprised, Serena Tweeted and blogged her well wishes to Dementieva, who had a 5-7 record against ReRe. Of course, retirement of one WTA veteran meant that the media was curious about her counterparts, namely Kim Clijsters. And here’s a curious fact for you: Lindsay Davenport, who shaved off Elena in her first big-bang match in the 2000 US Open semis still is not listed as retired on the WTA web site. Comeback likely? You never know with the mom next door.

Back on the winning (and publicity) track: Winning his first match in five tries, Fernando Verdasco found his winning form (most recently displayed in heroics at this year’s USO) in Valencia Monday. The Slice had some good shots of Fernando charming the masses at a Calvin Klein event last week in Madrid (with his pants on), before heading east to Valencia. He also appeared on the Spanish cooking show, El Hormiguero. Jealous of that cooking-show host? Yes, so are we.

Frame this: Ipek Senoglu is probably the most famous tennis player you (and I) have never heard of. Senoglu is Turkish and reached a career-high ranking of no. 293 back in 2004. While her career has mostly run its course, Senoglu has been instrumental in building tennis’s popularity in Turkey, which will host the WTA’s year-end event in both 2011 and 2012 in Istanbul. Oh, and she’s a looker, that Ipek, too. Above: Ipek in what we think is the Turkish/ Eastern European version of Bazaar. Can anyone help us out on translating?

After the cut: a barely-clad retired pro male struts his stuff in undies and injures a production assistant in the process? Plus, your weekly dose of short(er) balls. [Read more…]

quick draw: courier gets dc capt’n post

Not so slow: Doug Robson‘s piece on USAToday.com about Jim Courier being chosen for the Davis Cup captaincy. We’re excited for ya, Jimbo, but hoping you cut that mane a little before you take the bench! (screen grab via usa today)

Ladies’ choice: The American squad for the Fed Cup final has been named by captain Mary Joe Fernandez and include Bethanie Mattek Sands, Melanie Oudin, Liezel Huber and Coco Vandeweghe. Fernandez is hoping that home-court advantage will help her ladies conquer the mighty Italians next week.

last call for USA

If only we could get CBS to step aside…

As great a tournament the Open has been this year, when considering the event in its entirety, you’ve got to start with the coverage (the face of the event, after all). I don’t know if it’s because of the conventions, but I’ve been more conscious of how the tournament has been delivered to me this year than ever before.

In case you haven’t heard, this is USA Network’s last year covering the Open. With its bevy of weaknesses aside — I’ll get to a few in a sec — can we just say thank god for USA’s day and weeknight coverage? CBS’ work might not be different from years past, but the grating horn section of their intro and outro, the overexposed light, Mary Joe’s pre- and post-match interviews, Dick Enberg — how much of it can one take?

Thanks for the relief, USA, but here are a few things your replacement can improve upon:

— When Mueller and Davydenko were 9-10 in the fourth set tiebreak, the producer switched over to the start of the Andreev/Federer first set tiebreak, despite McEnroe’s request to stay put. (They did show the end of the tiebreak on tape, but the piss had been taken.)

— The night-match guests invited to join Ted Robinson and John in the booth really tested our patience and sanity: the Ryder Cup captain left me yawning and Boris Becker’s visit felt bloated.

— McEnroe and Jim Courier both have good and bad: Mac offers great insight and passion until he eventually devolves into his usual self-aggrandizement, occasionally revisiting earlier top form. Courier gets major points for his latest insights, my favorite being pointing out that guys ranked in the 80s in the world could be starters on an NBA team (a sentiment I’ve been aware of for a while). On the other hand, he’s still Mr. Smug.

By the way, I’m really intrigued by all the personal bits that Courier alludes to in his commentary, so I’m asking my readers for the latest info on this man: is his Manhattan apartment a duplex? penthouse? both? What kind of art does he collect? What Rosetta Stone tape is he currently working on?

Hope you enjoyed USA’s last night of coverage, and that CBS doesn’t give you too much of a hangover.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

CC day 4: andy and brooklyn’s puppy love, a new lacoste top, etc.

Fun times yesterday (Day 4) at the Countrywide Classic. I sat in on pressers for Carlos Moya and Amer Delic after their tough second round match, which Delic won 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).

1) Delic had surgery in April to fix a chronic sweating problem.

2) Even John McEnroe and Jim Courier were talking about the significance of that Federer/Nadal Wimbledon final. McEnroe said that we’ll learn a lot about Federer in the coming months (will he disappear ala Borg?), and that he’ll likely get more support from fans now that he’s a little more, uhm, human.

Meanwhile, Andy Roddick notched a routine win over drop shot-obsessed Serbian Dusan Vemic in the feature night match. Andy wore a black/white version of the Super Dry Stripe Polo from Lacoste‘s latest line. Fiancee Brooklyn Decker was there to cheer him on, of course, and we learn in his post-match interview with the skinny-legged Justin Gimelstob (man, what retirement can do to muscles!) that the couple now has a puppy.

Buy: Lacoste Super Dry Stripe Polo, Steward Blue/White, $95.00.

Browse: See the other U.S. Open goods here.

(image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

we squinted, and we saw some funky stencil jobs

These were neither Chanel logos nor portraits of Andre Agassi, but still we were intrigued…

tommy-haas-stencil.jpg

Tommy Haas played with a barebones Dunlop stencil on his racquet at the Stockholm Open last month (right), and used a proper stencil at the Paris Masters Series the week after.

courier-stencil.jpg

Meanwhile, The Legends Rock Dubai had some fun ones, too: Jim Courier rocked the Stanford Financial logo (an silhouette of a crest) on his racquet. Stanford sponsors the rankings on Courier’s Outback Champions senior tour.

haarhuis-stencil-smiley.jpg

And winner Paul Haarhuis played with a… smiley face?

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trophy watch: paul rocks the haarhuis

The season might be over, but we’re still seeing trophies here and there…

paul haarhuis - dubai - trophy

Dutchman Paul Haarhuis took out tennis impresario Jim Courier 6-1, 6-4 in the finals of the The Legends Rock Dubai Championships on Saturday. This is the final stop of the year for Courier’s seniors tour, the Outback Champions Series.

In the match for third place, Thomas Muster beat Michael Stich 6-4, 6-4.

Fun trophy, eh? We’ve seen Dubai do better (ships! teapots!), but this is alright for a simple transparent piece of crystal. At least we now know what the outline of UAE looks like.

A pic of Haarhuis (and details of the Dubai tourney) after the cut…