short balls: drugs, retirees and juniors collide!

Drug-Ball-Newsclip 
A different ‘Drug Ball': We’re not talking tennis players ‘roiding up here, folks. More like the incarcerated using the most polite ball in sport do to the dirty work: import drugs. Tennis balls were found at a New Orleans jail that outsiders were throwing (hitting?!) over the fence to smuggle in drugs, hidden inside of the balls. Game, set, and catch, we guess.

Party like it’s 2003: Second seed and wild card Kim Clijsters defeated Meghann Shaughnessy at the Luxembourg Open today. As TSF contributor Troy Venechanos put it: “Clijsters defeated Shaughnessy? What year is this?!” It most certainly could have been 2003, the last year those two women met

More blasts from the past: Other tennis names from the past were most certainly filling the world’s sports web pages on Tuesday. Martina Hingis made it clear she was pulling no HingDavenKimHenin in the near future by ruling out the possibility of making a comeback to professional tennis. She cited her horses and home life as reasons to stay put. Meanwhile, Mats Wilander will no longer coach the Swedish Davis Cup team. Maybe it was due to such poor attendance at their spring tie? Just maybe.

Not to be left out, we dug up this video of John McEnroe being defaulted from a champion’s match last year in Newport. Talk about bringing the past to the present. And yes, we’re serious. Watch it. 

Small players, big deals: Junior female tennis players Kyra Shroff and Sloane Stephens made big news over the last week, respectively. Shroff, the 80th ranked junior in the world and a former student at Mahesh Bhupathi‘s tennis academy (is this girl an up-and-comer or what?! We’re not sure why she’s making headlines…) will be a brand ambassador for Nike Sportswear. Stephens, who has somewhat of a better noted history on and off the court, has been signed by BEST, a sports marketing company.BEST beat out Octagon and IMG, regulars in the tennis-rep realm.

The signing associates Stephens with another fresh American face, Melanie Oudin, and guarantees that Sloane, currently ranked 5th in the junior game, will play several SEWTA pro-level tournaments next year.

Rafa on the rise: Thought Rafa was popular? Not compared to gymnast Shawn Johnson. Forbes.com looks at athletes and their marketability (aka brand opportunity), and though Johnson didn’t earn gold at last year’s Olympics, she did come out on top of her fellow athletes in brand appeal. Rafa’s up there, but still has a ways to climb…

(screen grab via youtube.com)


testy tanlines

Ramirez-Hidalgo

Spaniard Rubin Ramirez-Hidalgo was sleeving it like it was 2001 and he was Martina Hingis today at the BCR Open in Romania. Or maybe he was just sporting that right bicep?

In any case, we’re not quite sure how Ramirez-Hidalgo — or Hingis, for that matter — evens out his tan lines after a day on the court like that. You’ve gotta like the creativity though, right?

Hingis-Martina-Sleeves

Martina wore this adidas top through much of 2001, including at the Aussie and French. It never really did catch on, but we’re loving Ramirez-Hidalgo’s effort of resurrecting it. What’s next? Crazy tees saluting Santoro?! Can’t wait.

(photos via getty)

serena: queen of the garden?

Chasing greatness: Seles was the last to play at the Garden.

Winter gardening: Believe it or not, Serena Williams has never played at Madison Square Garden. In fact, of the four players competing in this Monday’s Billie Jean King Cup in New York, only Venus has played at the mecca of all sports – and just once, in 1999.

The last time pro women swung tennis racquets at the Garden was in 2000, at the WTA’s Season Ending Championships. In that tournament, then-20-year-old Martina Hingis outgunned fan fave and Garden gal Monica Seles in three tight sets, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4. 

If Monica owned the Garden in the early 90s, Serena hopes to own it in 2009. Friday, during a conference call, the Australian Open champ was asked by NYT‘s George Vecsey what she felt about the MSG, and had this to say: 

“Growing up I’ve always watched tennis [being played at] Madison Square Garden. There was the WTA there [and] for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to play there. It’s for a great event. I think women’s tennis right now is the mecca of female sports and to have an event like this put on … just shows how amazing women’s tennis is. These New Yorkers can get to see such high quality tennis for one night.”

The queen of the Garden will be crowned Monday on HBO, which is broadcasting the event live beginning at 730 EST. We’ll be there to cover it live.

(image via ALLSPORT)

short balls: sketches, socks, and stripes

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RePRINTed: Our buddy Jordan snapped this photo of Philip Burke drawings in the February issue of PRINT. The images of Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic originally appeared in The New York Observer‘s coverage of the 2007 U.S. Open. God bless iPhones.

All in the family: Just FYI — Kellie Kuehne, the golfer sister of Venus Williams‘s golfer boyfriend Hank, plays the green wearing EleVen clothing. Whodathunk the clothing would be so versatile?

mauresmo-socks.jpg

Amelie inspires socks: Dear Miss Mauresmo, I know you’re a little down these days — contemplating retirement, even) — in your latest slump you should know that (a) you lost a very streaky-but-good player in Tamarine Tanasugarn at this week’s Qatar Total Open, and that you’ve (b) inspired Claire to knit some socks. That’s right: socks. In your honor. Based on the dress you wore when you won the Australian in 2006. xoxo – TSF

The higher they go… The sullied career of Martina Hingis gets dealt another blow (hee) in the wake of her testing positive for cocaine at last year’s Wimbledon. According to Tennis Week, adidas dropped its endorsement contract with the former No. 1 because of a zero-tolerance policy on substance abuse.

short balls: reality bites sania, rafa swallows bitter pill, vaidisova returns, etc.

Reality bites: In response to Mahesh Bhupathi advising Sania Mirza to “concentrate on her physical abilities and training methods to prevent injury rather than to cure them,” she says:

Injuries happen to everyone. I mean Sharapova has struggled with so many injuries this year. Also Indians are not genetically as tough as the Europeans are. We are not cut out to be in a totally physical sport. That’s a fact. A lot of people may disagree with me but I still believe that. And because of that we have to push our bodies a lot more. And hence if you are going to punish your bodies everyday I don’t think then it’s humanly possible to remain injury free. I lost three months this year because of my knee but that is something which happened when I was the fittest. (CNN-IBN)

Fan fave: The fans of Maria Sharapova weigh in on their favorite outfit of 2007. I agree with their pick. (WTB)

More Maria: While in town for promo work with Tag Heuer, Masha takes in some Hong Kong sites with gal pal Camilla Belle. (Celebrities Stars)

Nadal owns up to bum foot: After months of brushing off questions about the source of his (relatively) poor performance in 2007, Rafa finally speaks out about his chronic injury. Now that the Aussie Open has traded Rebound Ace for DecoTurf, will he have the same problems he faced during this past U.S. Open? DTL: Nadal reflects on a tough 2007.

A fellow grinder rests up: Lleyton Hewitt is hoping his ankle soreness will disappear in time to play in his home country’s Grand Slam. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia hopes that the two-time Grand Slam champ will benefit from the surface change; Lleyton’s first win was on ‘Turf at the 2001 U.S. Open. (Herald Sun)

Becker splits with GF: Boris announced the end of his relationship with Sharlely Kerssenberg. (DTL)

King’s gold: Billie Jean King thinks that the WTA is free of match-fixing and sides with Martina Hingis on that cocaine scandal. (WP, WTB)

First Borg, now Sampras: C’mon, wrist — heal yourself! Clearly your owner, Andy Murray, has been pegged with lots of potential by tennis greats Borg (here) and now Sampras. (The Scotman)

Vaidisova’s back?: Mono washed away most of her 2007, but Nicole Vaidisova should be back on track in 2008. (ESPN)

What can’t he do?: First it was Novak the actor, then Novak the disco diva, now Novak the baritone?

Geek love: If you haven’t yet fallen for the number-crunching ways of Robert Waltz, then take in this latest article analyzing the performance of top WTA players. (tennis.com)

short balls thursday:

I decorated an heirloom pumpkin last night. God bless having friends who own craft kits. I got burned by a glue gun, though :( Not fun. Anyway, here we go with some short balls…

Robert Waltz won’t answer my e-mails: My friend Chris passed along this article co-written by him (and Tennis.com editor Kamakshi Tandon) about the race to the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. This is why I love the statistician extraodinaire. (Tennis.com)

The Scud hits the skids: As a true testament to his focus on the sport (or perhaps conveniently hiding behind it), Aussie Mark Philippoussis — via IMG rep Carlos Fleming — has rubbed out Age of Love flame Amanda Salinas from his life. His focus is now the upcoming Stanford Championships in Dallas.

(OT) Romanticizing rail travel: It’s good to know that train stations this gorgeous are still being built. (Gabion)

Swiss Miss to miss rest of 2007: Sad end to Martina Hingis‘ revived career? (ESPN via women’s tennis blog)

More short balls…

party pics: china open serves up the ladies

The top crop of ladies vying for the China Open title this week — Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jelena Jankovic, Amelie Mauresmo (welcome back!), Elena Dementieva, Lindsay Davenport, and Martina Hingis — were all present at this promo event which had them clad in cheongsams (traditional Chinese dresses). All except for Lindsay, who was wearing her LBD. I wonder why?

This is the first off-court dress I’ve LOVED on Amelie. As usual, Jelena and Elena were looking good.

Best dressed award goes to Hingis, though. Maybe it’s the dress + the curly hair + devilish smile? Whatever she did, it worked!

Who do you think dressed best? Tell us!

(photos by O Sports)

style short balls: tennis week magazine, sunfeast fashion, hingis' gear, agassi's sandals, etc.

Back in the fray: IMG-backed Tennis Week Magazine furthers its makeover plans by announcing an eight-issue publication schedule for 2008 and a relaunch of its website (tennisweek.com) in November. The publication will be headed by Randy Master. TSF can’t wait to see the goods! (via marketwire)

Speaking of IMG: LAT reports that ex-HBO Chief Executive Chris Albrecht has been brought in to IMG to beef up domestic distribution of programming surrounding the agency-owned events (such as fashion weeks, sporting events, etc.).

[Insert slicing pun here]: This cute chopping board via hopehope.

Hingis decides on racquet: TSF doesn’t usually talk racquets, but it piqued our interest that Martina Hingis did not have a racquet sponsor for most of the summer — she played with an all-black demo (with a white grip) — but that has now changed. Per Stephanie Myles, Hingis is now playing with the Yonex RQiS 2.

PETA, Can You Hear Me?: Hingis owns up to owning a fancy chinchilla shawl. It’s cold in Switzerland, she says. (via Tennis Week)

(OT) Patrolling London: The Times‘ London Fashion Week coverage has this great bit on the eccentric men darting around at the shows.

Agassi flips out: Andre Agassi slapped Target with a lawsuit for continuing to market flip-flops with the Agassi name even after his reps had told the retailer to stop. The sandals, once sold under “Mossimo Agassi”, are now just Mossimo. (Buy the sandals.) (via sportsonesource.com)

Rebound Ace RIP: It makes sense (timing-wise) that the Australian Open’s courts are already being torn up in time for 2008’s first Grand Slam.

Speaking of effed up courts: Unlike the entire Serbian team, the clay courts used for the Davis Cup tie between Australia and Serbia (hosted in Belgrade) aren’t so hot.

Calcutta serves up a fashion ‘Feast: The Sunfeast Open in Calcutta rode into town a week after the latest India Fashion Week. And so to open this week’s tournament, the ladies participated in the Miss Players Fashion show on Sunday night. Maria Kirilenko, wore an evening dress from Wills Lifestyle. Other players who walked down the runway: Marion Bartoli, also in a black dress; Yaroslova Shvedova and Hana Smorova, both in capris and t-shirts; Sunitha Rao, dressed in red and white; Tara Iyer; Alexandra Wosniak; and Vania King.

Kirilenko’s photo: See a photo of Kirilenko in her black dress after the cut…

short balls: "this and that" edition

Tennis and Latinos: While lots of folks in Latin America might be catching tennis fever, those living stateside are relatively immune — until the U.S. Open comes to town. VivirLatino rode the 7 train to get to the action. “(The 7’s) crowded with working class people of color to begin with, (and) becomes even more crowded, now with wide eyed mostly white tennis fans, most looking a little lost and scared. Most won’t give a lady with a baby in a sling their seat either.” Ugh, what is the world coming to?

Tennis and the rest of the world: Americans might never dominate tennis again, but that’s okay. It’s not that we’re producing less greats. It’s really just that the rest of the world is catching up. So just sit back, and make sure you know how to pronounce Agnieszka Radwanska. (NYT)

Tennis and college football: Scoop Jackson lists 25 reasons why pro tennis is better than college football. (“No. 23: Because women receive equal pay.”)

Tennis and booze: An Ad Ager complains about the recent partnership between Grey Goose vodka and the USTA.

Tennis and gambling: SI‘s S.L. Price keeps the conversation going about match-fixing on the ATP Tour.

Martina and Max: Swiss Miss Martina Hingis took in BCBG‘s Spring 2008 fashion show in New York before heading back home. She looked great in her gold sequin top under a black jumper dress (paired with a gold pendant neckace and some black booties). Martina lost to Victoria Azarenka in the third round of this year’s U.S. Open. (WWD)

Roddick and Brooklyn: Texan Andy Roddick was apparently spotted dining with SI swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker at Nobu. (MTF)

Between a rock and a hard place: How should James Blake deal with his African-American heritage?

(photo of Hingis with Natasha Bedingfield, left, and Nigel Barker, right, both by AP via PDN)

RELATED POSTS
>> TSF’s u.s. open coverage continues…

the scud's not a playboy, lleyton fails to prove he can beat roger, roger still doesn't like hawk-eye

Isner-mania continues: The Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati awarded giant(-killer) John Isner a wildcard for this year’s tourney. (The Cincy Post)

The Scud’s not a playboy?: Age of Love runner-up Jennifer Braff, a 48-year-old executive assistant to Lakers owner Jerry Buss, talks about Mark:

“(The producers) kept saying he was a little dense and kept trying to get me to say it. I think in a lot of ways he’s not as socially conditioned to be out there dating. He’s been playing tennis since he was 8 years old, and was trained by his father.

“It seemed as though he’d been more sheltered. NBA players seem to kind of get thrown out there when they’re young. The girls approach them and are always around. That’s a big difference, socially.” (LAT)

Lleyton got his chance: The new and improved Lleyton Hewitt has been dying to prove his worth by playing Roger Federer. He got his chance at this week’s Rogers Cup. Yep, he has a lot more work left before the U.S. Open. (Tennis News)

R-Fed and Hawk-Eye not a match: The World No. 1 continues to speak about not trusting the line-calling system. And he copes with close calls like a true champion. “Well, what other choice do you have? Can’t go drink coffee with the guy and say, ‘Let’s discuss this line call.'” (transcript via Tennis News)

Shaking it off: Czech Radek Stepanek leaves behind injury and wedding engagement to play his best tennis in a long time. The results: he makes the semis at Gstaad, wins L.A., and loses to Federer in the Montreal semis.