more moving and shaking: carillo joins tennis channel



As if we needed one more reason to restart our Tennis Channel subscription (since we got rid of our cable sports package during a “break” from blogging over the winter): first we had to twiddle our thumbs while that Nole/Nadal Madrid final was bowling everyone over (including Rafa!) and now it’s going to be the only place to hear the wacky commentary of Mary Carillo.

After ending her run with ESPN in 2010, she’s signed on with TC for both the French and U.S. Opens to work the tourney desk, conduct interviews, offer analysis, and occasionally handle play-by-play commentary during select matches. She’ll also get to do the human interest segments we’ve come to know her for. (What antics will she get into when they let her loose in Paris?)

For Roland Garros, Carillo’ll join a roster of on-air talent including John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob, and Corina Morariu. Mary will also work with Bill Macatee on “French Open Tonight.”

(screengrab by Nick via NBC)

stay, don’t go



By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

[Read more...]

this year, no merry carillo-mas (on espn)



In his yearly Baggies post, where Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim hands out the best (and worst)-of the year, he also compiles a list of latest happenings in the tennis world. Among them this year: a good-bye to “Mary Carillo on ESPN”. So what gives? Your guess is as good as ours. Oh, it’s just not going to be a Merry Carillo-mas!

(image via opencourt)

mary the olympian



If you’ve watched more Olympics than me (and I only got to the most important three hours of it, the women’s free skate), then you were sure to have had the pleasure of watching my favorite tennis commentator — and esteemed journalist — Mary Carillo in one of NBC’s delightful featurettes.

Carillo’s sports knowledge is obvious, and her word-choice is always that of a well-educated, thoughtful commentator. She’s a natural — even in nature!

Enter our Mary The Olympian photo gallery, where we chronicle the many trials and tribulations of the great Carillo in her coverage for NBC’s peek into life as a Canadian as an Olympic contest all of its own. They were, after all, Mary’s Olympics…

Things looked suspicious at first — and so did Mary — but her training for the Olympics were about to hit full stride. [Read more...]

short balls: andre admits, mary acts and dinara ditches



mary-wears-pearls

Doha Dust: The biggest news out of Doha today was that Dinara Safina withdrew from the event with a back injury. She was tied 1-1 in the first set with Jelena Jankovic when she pulled out, and now she is in doubt for the Australian Open in January. Let the debate begin… who had the more devastating end to the year: Safina or Ana Ivanovic? Too close to call.

Doha Dust (pt 2): The (good) news out of Doha today was the the Williams sisters put on another masterful show, Serena beating Venus 7-6 in the third set in what was a tense, tight battle, that included a saved match point. That ups Serena to 2-0 in round robin play, while Venus falls to 0-2 (she lost in three to Elena on day one).

Andre’s Book Deal is Crackin’: There is plenty of buzz around the November 9th release of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open: An Autobiography“. It was revealed yesterday that Agassi admits to using crystal meth in 1997 in the book, during the low point of his tennis career. It was also leaked today that the now-father talks of the abuse of his own dad. Gotta buy us a copy of that one, eh?

’10 Bucks: Things are looking good for the US Open come 2010. The year’s final Slam signed a partnership with the car company Mercedes-Benz to be the tournament’s presenting sponsor on the men’s side and the offish vehicle of the tourney. A lucrative deal like this one the Open struck with Mercedes is hard to come by these days, so a big thumbs up to the Flushing Meadows event and tennis in gengen. We’re so popular.

Mother Mary of the Silver Screen: The behind-the-camera maven was pleasantly hilarious in this mockumentary, which features comedian Paul Mecurio as a part of his web series for HBO Sports. “Our breasts would compromise our backswings.” Hil-ar, Mare. We loves it.

Good Angle: We also loved this writing, from TennisWeek.com this past week. Chris Oddo penned a lengthy piece on Juan Martin Del Potro being the tallest Grand Slam winner ever and how his rise to new heights might be a sign of bigger (and taller) things to come.

(screen grab via you tube.)