the all-england club for men’s hair loss


By Troy Venechanos

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John McEnroe, The Rocker Boy of Bald: For more than three decades, John McEnroe has managed to stay relevant and his hairline is no exception. The curly, clown-esque locks of his early career seemed to complement his outlandish on-court antics. But even this seasoned tennis vet isn’t recession-proof. Perhaps his thinner hair is the reason behind his (somewhat) more subdued public persona. Nice try, Johnny Mac.

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)

book review: high praise for 'high strung'



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.”

TSF Vault: John McEnroe | Bjorn Borg

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)

short balls: is that a jimmy in your phone or are you just… ?



By Benjamin Snyder

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)

the all-england hair club for men


By Troy Venechanos

A few months ago, Andy Roddick hit what he called one of the best shots of his career. It was a diving save, one in which Roddick smacked a forehand down the line on match point to win a third set tie-breaker against up-and-comer Milos Raonic and capture the Memphis title. And while the web went abuzz with the video of the shot, many viewers weren’t actually watching Roddick’s shot. Instead, they were paying attention to a cap-less Andy, his hat having fallen off in his exertion of effort. And what was there to see? Not much, actually. An almost-bald Andy.Hair loss and tennis go hand and hand. Male pros often play into their mid or late 30s, meaning as they start to lose their hair, it’s left for all the public to see. Andre Agassi freaked out about it so much that he donned a fake hairpiece that had the world fooled. Pete Sampras has been so nonchalant about his after-career hair thinning that he doesn’t even seem to notice.

But we notice – we always notice. TSF has collected the hairdos (and don’ts) from around the tour in what we’re calling “The All-England Club for Men’s Hair Loss,” where styles differ from member to member, but everyone has one thing in common: they’re going – or already are – bald.

TSF GALLERY: The All-England Hair Club for Men

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