2 of 12
2 of 12
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)
For our review of High Strung, TSF takes a rare dive into the serious, introspective world that sometimes the tennis world can inspire. Enjoy. -NM
It’s not the fault of Jimmy Connors or Vitas Gerulaitis that they were left off the cover and out of the title of High Strung: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and the Untold Story of Tennis’s Fiercest Rivalry, written by Stephen Tignor of Tennis magazine. For Connors and Gerulaitis will never have the Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe rivalry to their names, and that is nothing they can change, but it doesn’t make them any less instrumental in the story of tennis’ most storied few years.
Many in tennis do pin the 1980 final — and the season that went along with it — as the best that tennis has ever seen. The Mac-Borg tiebreaker is often referred to as the gold standard for drama and quality, and that McEnroe won that breaker 18-16 only to lose the fifth set made it that much more of a legend. “This is terrible,” Tignor writes Borg said to himself after the breaker. “I’m going to lose.”
But the climax of that match (Borg won, BTW: 8-6 in the fifth) was as unexpected as the twists and turns that Tignor takes the reader through in High Strung. He puts out the 1980 final as the book’s first offering, and at my initial reading, I feared that the book wouldn’t have much to build on from there. But it’s there that Tignor weaves in the stories of Connors and Gerulaitis (and eventually makes a fearsome twosome actually a foursome) along with a host of other eccentric characters.
High Strung is bold in its claims about tennis’ shifting landscape, especially from the amateur era (pre Open tennis, before 1968) and that which came after. Tignor puts as much (if not more) weight on the arrival of the oversized racquet, the technology that stole the game from the Mac-Borg era and passed it along first to Ivan Lendl and then to Boris Becker, Andre Agassi and to the baseline-bashing game we know today.
More Tignor: His Tennis.com “Concrete Elbow” blog
What Tignor does so beautifully (and makes the book so compelling) is tieing in both history in a factual sense with that of juicy detail, quotes and I-didn’t-know-that kind of research. It’s obvious he spent a good amount of time with a tape recorder sitting down with everyone he could possibly get an interview with, but that he then states that “[n]o account of [Ilie Nastase] would be complete without at least a partial list of his more memorable antics” and then goes on to list such antics (pp. 129 to 131 if you’re a thumbing in a B&N), makes the read both fascinating and snappy.
I’m no tennis historian. Actually, I’m 25, pay somewhat close attention to the goings on on tour but can better recount that Matthew Perry was in Jennifer Capriati‘s box during the 2003 U.S. Open than tell you about the career of Bill Tilden. Yet, with that said, this book not only held my attention, but I felt pretty dang enriched by it. Even (dare I say it?) entertained. From Borg’s rocky marriage to McEnroe’s family life to the upbringing of Connors to the rise of Lendl to the death of Gerulaitis, Tignor does his duty in roping in the reader.
That last note — the death of Gerulaitis — is the last inclusion in the Epilogue, in which Tignor gives a Six Feet Under sort of wrap up of the post-1981 lives of these tennis players slash rock stars. I won’t go into too much detail about how the writer unfolds such events, but I will say that on a smelly, Uptown-bound 1 train in New York, I missed my stop because I was so wrapped up in his telling of what happened — and crying.
Suffice to say, I highly recommend picking up High Strung.
Buy: High Strung on Amazon for $16.79 (used from $13.50 and up).
(Image provided by Harper Publishing)
Basically Jimmy: Prepare for Jimmy 2.0, or rather “Jimmy Connors 109,” as the retired tennis champ’s newly released app is called, reports Tennis.com. USA Today initially broke the story, writing, “Part tutorial and part anecdotes, the video app showcases Connors to a whole new generation, while at the same time appealing to fans who watched him become one of the best and most popular players in the 1970s and ’80s.” In Connors’ own words, “I go back to basics, which is how I learned to play. I really believe simpler is better, and as I’m describing a shot or a grip, I’m showing you exactly how I did it.”
Roger Federer 007: Need a paparazzi decoy? Don’t ask Mirka, that just means she’ll wear sweat pants to dinner. Instead, Fed is your man, as he was the other night when out with BFF (Best Fashion Friend) Anna Wintour (oh yeah, and Mirka came too, yaaaaawn). According to the New York Post article, Federer helped Wintour escape from the paparazzi after the meal concluded. The article cites a spy (Mirka?!): “He and the group exited the side door carrying presents. The photographers ran to the side, but the queen of Vogue was nowhere to be found. One yelled, ‘Where’s Anna?’ Federer took his time loading the car, smiled and went on his way. Anna walked out the front door unnoticed.” As the article states, “chivalry still rules for Federer,” and it seems to be nowhere near dead. At the same time, how did Mirka feel about Federer’s kind acts for Wintour on her b-day? Can’t wait for that story line to develop!
Lisa’s lines: The wheels are turning for Lisa Raymond‘s WTA blog, “Lisa’s Spin.” In a recent post, the dubs specialist talks about country music (!??!???!), cupcakes, her doubles “break-up” and more. Let us repeat again: she talks about her doubles drama. Read it. Plus, what is a day without some life coaching from one, LaRa? Raymond says, “And like any relationship, the forming of a doubles partnership is a bit like dating – you seem interested in someone, you confirm they are single and/or on the market, ask them out, and hope you live happily ever after or something like that! ;-)” Did she really just ;-)??? We can’t with the emoticons.
Loud-mouth Johnny: As loud as John McEnroe is on court, he’s able to spit out the decibels in public places, too. Apparently, he’s just as “obnoxious” off the court, a blurb in the New York Post recounted. It says he “annoyed fellow diners at Recipe, on the Upper West Side recently by loudly recounting tales of his tennis glory days. The court legend entertained his wife and two friends with stories of “beating Bjorn Borg and other victories.”
Chris Chase of Yahoo! Sports is having none of it: “It’d be bigger news if McEnroe went to a restaurant and didn’t talk loudly about Bjorn Borg. What’s most surprising is that the old tennis champ wasn’t boasting about that time he partied with The Rolling Stones.”
The next loud-mouth superstar? Speaking (yelling?) of Johnny Mac, his protege, Ingrid Neel continues to make waves in the tennis world — the boys’ tennis world. The 12-year-old from Minnesota is playing tennis with the boys – and only the boys. Her hometown coach Mike Cartwright to the Minnesota Star Tribune has this to say about the pint-sized puncher playing with the fellas: “It will be interesting. It’s going to be hard for some guys, wondering how the heck they are losing to a seventh-grade girl. But she’s just really talented.”
Time to go? David Ferrer‘s recent ad campaign for Bovet watches in Spanish Revolution magazine. He’s rocking the sepia tones and the specs. Looking good (???), David! And… sort of like an Avatar.
(Connors image by ICN via USA Today; Ferrer image via Spanish Revolution)
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
Can Johnny Mac schedule a fashion counseling session with BYU’s Jimmer Fredette – and the rest of college basketball, for that matter? We, too, are obsessed with the leaping ability of SI cover boy Jimmer, but could do without the past-my-knees shorts that make him (and all players) look like they’re still 13 and playing alley ball. C’mon, fellas.
(screengrab via yahoo! sports)
By Benjamin Snyder
The WTA’s number one saga continues as Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters head to the BNP Paribas Open. But, get this: The not-so-intense rivalry between the two smile-y blondes started much earlier than people imagined, reports Matt Cronin. In fact, it was Kim’s late dad who first picked up on Caro’s “sunny disposition,” reminding him of his daughter’s own. Okay, so maybe that does not a rivalry make, and it’s more corny than anything. We can still hope for some drama between the two, can’t we? We’re ready for those pink dresses to get a little dirty.
The ATP doesn’t have any dirty pink dresses (well, at least not that we know of… ) but there’s plenty of controversy swirling around the boys these days. Davis Cup sparked quite enough juicy, male drama, especially from France’s Gilles Simon. He recently called out French Captain Guy Forget‘s coaching style, saying, “Guy has a vision for action and I play more in response. Guy was an attacking player. He won the Davis Cup and Bercy with aggression. That’s how he sees the game and I respect that, but it does not stick at all to my game.”
For more, check out FootFault‘s take here. Our thoughts? Simmer down, Simon. You might want to keep your mouth shut until you actually get a W out of a big-time Davis Cup match. But otherwise, how’s your kid, Gilles? Hopefully he’s as cute as you.
Serena Williams, as we all know by now, isn’t returning to court any time soon, although she’s raring to get back to hitting. She recently thanked us, the little people, on her website. And here we were convinced Serena thought only she existed in the world… “I am overwhelmed, and teary eyed by all the love and support from everyone. I am so blessed to have caring love from everyone.” Yes, guys, feel special. It’s the first time Serena has written something over 140 characters since her failed screenplay.
In Fenville, Michicgan, the tragic death of a high school basketball player has rocked the small town. Wes Leonard, 16, passed away shortly after securing a 65-64 win and a perfect, 20-0 season for the Black Hawks. For a moving tribute, read this powerful piece from ESPN.com’s LZ Granderson on Wes’ wisdom beyond his years.
In the wake of these heartbreaking stories, some pretty cool, uplifting ones are on the radar in the tennis world, too. There’s Wimbledon‘s move to stream the finals in 3D around the world. It’s time to exchange the strawberries and cream for popcorn and soda. Then there’s the tale of an up-and-coming John McEnroe prodigy in the form of a 12-year old girl. This girl, Ingrid Neel, is the real deal – according to McEnroe. “The way she played, the look in her eye, made me think that maybe it was the 2011 version of what I would look like now, only a girl,” he says. We’re ready when you are, Ingrid. The juniors could certainly use some tiny, pre-teen drama.
by Benjamin Snyder
Serena is outta the Nike exo, but staying on as a ref. Think Shino will be there to join her? (Reuters)
Forget becoming an esthetician, Serena Williams is taking on a new career as a lineswoman. The sidelined former no. 1 won’t be playing in a much-anticipated return at the Nike exhibition on March 8. Instead, she’ll be a referee. That’s tough luck for the 12,000 fans expecting to see the 13-time major champion’s form alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. Citing the foot injury that’s been kept her out since after Wimbledon, Serena released the following statement: “I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to play … as I had anticipated. I’m thrilled, however, to still be able to participate … in the exhibition as a referee during the mixed doubles.”
Is something sketchy going on here? Columnist Greg Crouch thinks so. Taking her place on court is Victoria Azarenka. With Masha and Vika both on court, make sure to bring the ear plugs, Eugene.
Pakistani dubs expert Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is flashing his pearly whites (and wavy locks) in a recent ad with CloseUp toothpaste. Seriously, Rafa and Fernando, this dude is nipping at your modeling heels. He’s just going for a – er – cleaner approach.
He’s not just a hot head, he’s also an art aficionado. Getting a custom-made sculpture in the process, tennis legend and New York City art collector John McEnroe took to the streets of Delray Beach against Mats Wilander in a game of street tennis as part of the “On the Ave” exo. Although Mayor Woodie McDuffie served as the chair umpire, it didn’t make Johnny Mac bite his tongue or keep the snide remarks at bay. He called Mayor McDuffie’s math “fuzzy” on his way to winning the TB 13-11. “I was down 2-1, and now I’m up 3-1; I like that. Is that how they count in Florida?” McEnroe quipped.
After being honored with work from artists of the Milagro Youth Center, McEnroe said, “This is definitely unique. Anybody that knows about me knows that I’m a big fan of the arts. I’ve been a collector for 30 years since I first made money playing the sport I love… The greatest compliment I’ve received as a player was that I was an artist on the court.” But seriously, what is hanging over his headboard? Oh the things we wonder.
Caroline Wozniacki has reclaimed the world’s no. 1 ranking after winning in Dubai over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kim Clijsters nabbed the distinction from Caro for just one week ago. Kamakshi Tandon and Steve Stignor volleyed back and forth on their thoughts of the flip flop. Whether the system’s flawed or not, expect much more of the Caro-Kim ranking fight in the coming months, especially with Serena playing referee.
Splitsville: “Super Mario” Ancic has called it quits on his ten-year career due to a severe back injury. According to the 2004 Wimbledon semifinalist and former world no. 7, “It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. I’m only 26 but my body said I would not be able to continue on a high level.” Although he’ll be missed on the tennis courts, expect him to put his energy into a different type of court. The University of Split law grad now plans on pursuing a career as a lawyer. So long, counselor. | TSF Vault: Mario Ancic
(serena and ancic photos by reuters)
John McEnroe was a guest on CNN’s Parker Spitzer last night, talking with former New York guv Eliot Spitzer about politics as a sport, particularly focusing on the aftermath of the Arizona shooting. Click the image to watch.
(screengrab via cnn.com)