martina's masterful night

Martina Hingis, serving up a WTT ‘W.’ (TSF image)

Hingis, circa 1997: There was a point tonight when I sat in the bleachers at the Sportimes’ World Team Tennis match on Randall’s Island just outside of Manhattan and thought: Oops, Martina Hingis really has lost it. That was in the middle of Hingis and partner Travis Parrott‘s mixed doubles loss to the St. Louis Aces, putting New York down 10-15 as Hingis headed into the women’s singles bout.

And then Martina Hingis proved me wrong.

If you’ve never been to a WTT tie before, they can be up-and-down affairs. Sets are played to five games, not six, and scoring is a no-ad system, meaning if the game goes to three-three in points (we might call that “Deuce”), it’s a receiver’s choice point that decides the game. Hingis had to win all five of her game to give New York even a tie against the Aces.  | TSF Vault: Martina Hingis

Which is exactly what she did. Taking the court against Maria Sanchez (nope, not Caroline Sanchez. Maria. Yeah, we had never heard of her, either … ) Hingis rolled out four straight games, causing the St. Louis team to sub in doubles expert Liezel Huber in a last-ditch effort to save the match. Huber couldn’t do it and it was game and match to Hingis, 5-0. Team score? 15-15.

That meant the ladies would play a first-to-seven-point tie-breaker, sudden death. If the match reached 6-all, it was down to a final point. After some awkward (and nervous) play from both, the ladies locked in at 6-all. Surprise!

Let me just say for a second that this is exactly when you think Martina Hingis might buckle. She hasn’t played competitively in years, hasn’t been in a tight Grand Slam situation in nearly a decade. And here’s Liezel who is still active on the women’s doubles circuit getting her to 6-6 in a tiebreak. Eek.

But biting down on Huber’s loopy balls, Hingis attacked the way the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport did her own strokes in the early 2000’s. She came into the next and punctuated the win with a headstrong crosscourt forehand volley that was a little bit of a “Take that!” sort of finish to the whole night, which saw Huber at one point hit Hingis rather hard with a volley in mixed.

The small crowd went crazy, and TSF guesses this is just when WTT might feel a little bit like winning, say, the 1999 French Open. Or at least close to it. Especially at the age of 30.

After the match, Hingis was wearing Tonic and a smile. “I just thought, ‘I’m not missing it!'” Hingis told TSF excitedly. “I took my chance on a match point, I feel so much relief! The other girl [Sanchez] I had her figured out, but they put her in and I had to be both aggressive and patient. She played smart.”

But not as smart as you, Martina. Hey 2011, Martina’s back! And she’s brought 1997 along with her.

short balls: feddy whatty?

British politician Nick Clegg, second from left, is pictured back in the day playing some prep school tennis in Westminster. He’s almost as pissed as Liezel Huber. Almost. (Photo via the AP.)

Is the Fed Cup Broken? There was plenty of debate early this week about how much attention was paid to the Fed Cup ties this past weekend. I’ve got to say I was a little surprised that overall coverage wasn’t happening a little more consistently across the board. Even on the Birmingham News‘s web site you had to seek out links for the U.S.-Russia tie, which was happening right there in town! The most complete coverage? That came on the Fed Cup web site itself. Which, as an international event, is not a good sign. Bruce Jenkins pointed out some major flaws in the system (playing for next year’s groups in April; a six month gap between the semis and finals) in a piece on CNNSI.com.

Fashion in Action. We showed you last week that Vince Spadea is designing his own tees, so you gotta love this number inspired by Rihanna‘s pop-tastic hit, “Rude Boy“. If that doesn’t do it for you, head over to Brooklyn’s Union Hall next week to hear USTA employee and fashion buff Andrew Feldman talk about “how (and why) professional tennis players attire themselves for competition at the US Open and other major tennis events” as part of the Adult Ed series. You know we’ll be there. But if you can’t make it to NYC, the NYT has this confusing (and low budget) shoot to give you your fashion fix for the day.

Serena Honored, Still Missing. The WTA is celebrating Serena Williams‘s 100th week at the helm of the rankings. She becomes just the seventh woman in tour history to complete such a feat. It doesn’t seem like Serena has played in 99 weeks, but I guess we should celebrate he Slam success instead of harping on a Hingis-Ivanovic-Safina #1 sitchu, right?

Liezel, The Angry. We’re not sure if Jon Wertheim finds all these gems on the web himself or if he gets a little help from his Mailbag faithful, but he posted this video of Liezel Huber freaking out at Wimbledon a few years back after being hit by a ball struck by Nadia Petrova. The ironic thing, Wertheim notes, is that Huber and Petrova have now partnered together on the dubs circuit.

trophy watch: wta tour’s 2007 player awards

SEWTA Tour 2007 Players Awards

The SEWTA Tour gave out their 2007 Players Awards in Miami on Thursday.

Comeback player of the year: Lindsay Davenport

Newcomer: Agnes Szavay

Most improved: Ana Ivanovic (who jumped from No. 14 to No. 4 within the season)

Player of the year: Justine Henin, wearing a grey cropped tuxedo jacket and a rhinstoned Armani tee

Doubles team of the year: Cara Black (short) and Liezel Huber (tall)

(photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)