on the 1st day of giftmas: tennis lit

2010 has been a pretty good year for the tennis literary community (if you can even call it a “community”). There was an as-always this-is-what-my-tennis-life was (and is!) book in Patrick McEnroe’s Hardcourt Confidential, while Venus Williams put out a best-selling business book called Come To Win. Right, we said business book. We give you a few other selections that might fit well as fit-in-your-suitcase take-home gifts this holiday season.

Hardcourt Confidential might be the only book on this list that I’ve actually completed, and after a bit of skepticism to start, I surely appreciated it. McEnroe write with Tennis‘s Peter Bodo and Bodo’s signature phrases can be found throughout the book. But it’s still McEnroe’s voice that shines through and tells some good stories. The book follows a calendar format (Jan. to Dec.) instead of a biographical one, which grew on me as I progressed. A great read from – what a tennis friend recently told me – “one of the nicest guys in tennis.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $10.40

Come to Win is Venus’s take – along with a host of other “visionaries” – on how to rise above the rest in whatever you choose.”Every single story in this book is very motivating. Sports give you knowledge that you can take with you and apply into other fields,” says Mihaela Hagiu in her review of Come to Win on Bookstove.com. “Many people do not realize the benefits of playing a sport. The lessons that could be learned are too valuable.” | Hardcover on Amazon.com for $17.15

Doubles Agatha Donkar’s take on the book on the Art & Literature blog: “Taking the reader along for the ride as Slow tries to crawl out from this bottom that he’s hit, Doubles explores tennis, friendship, and love, and the truly strange lengths human beings go to in pursuit of those things — the idea that we’re all just muddling along, and there’s only so much indulgence you can take before you have to do something else.” | Paperback on Amazon.com for $11.41

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agassi interview in the april issue of tennis

Almost two years after leaving the sport, tennis icon Andre Agassi has found new challenges as a father and businessman, and admits while he still loves the game, “I don’t feel like a tennis player anymore.” He tells Peter Bodo in an exclusive interview in the April issue of TENNIS Magazine, “When I dig out my racquets because I’ve donated a lesson for charity or something, I’ll look at them and say, ‘Wow, this is what I used to do for a living.'”

Although he did say he still watches a lot of tennis. “We don’t have the television on in the house unless we’re watching something specific, but during the Australian Open, I had it on all the time, tuned to Tennis Channel.”

Interviewed in an empty classroom of the eponymous College Preparatory Academy, the school he founded in Las Vegas to help disadvantaged children, Agassi talks in depth about his life after retirement, his children (with wife Steffi Graf), Roger Federer, drug testing and gambling in tennis as well as his latest sporting adventure — snowboarding.

Read more: Highlights from the article after the cut…

short balls: mcenroe and bryan brothers get davis cup spotlight, etc.

Coming into his own: It’s been a few years now that Patrick McEnroe has etched his way into tennis history (and not as John McEnroe‘s younger brother). As the U.S. gets ready to face Russia in the 2007 Davis Cup finals (this weekend, in Portland), bone up with this quick profile in USA Today.

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Bryan Brothers blogging: Speaking of Davis Cup, the ATP passes the blogging baton to Mike and Bob Bryan for new insight into this weekend’s Davis Cup tie. Bob wrote the inaugural post. What you need to know: the twins went to a Blazers game with James Blake, Mike spent too much money at Whole Foods, Bob is impressed with what he’s seen as of late from the likes of Donald Young and Robbie Ginepri, and can’t wait to pull some pranks on giant (and rookie) John Isner. (ATP)

Pete backs Pete: Year-long touring pro he ain’t, but Pete Sampras‘ serve-and-volley game — played on fast indoor carpet — can still match up with today’s best. (ESPN.com)

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Poker? I hardly knew her!: Newly-single Boris Becker will join Pokerstars as one of their sponsored pros. He’ll participate in the European leg of the Poker Tour at the end of January. (Poker News)

Exhibition ecstasy: The folks at Tennis Channel will air a bunch of exhibitions in their entirety (and for free) through the end of 2007. The schedule is as follows: Monday, Dec. 3, Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet (first U.S. showing); Tue., Dec. 4, Sampras vs. Federer No. 1; Wed., Dec. 5, Sampras vs. Federer No. 2; Thurs., Dec. 6, Sampras vs. Federer No. 3. In the meantime, you can watch clips (with German commentary) here.

(OT) Opening Ceremony: Quick write-ups in Refinery29 and NYT about Opening Ceremony co-owner Humberto Leon, who, aside from running one of the best boutiques in Los Angeles, is busy ressurecting 90s surf label Maui & Sons.

(Davis Cup photo via ATP; Becker photo via Poker News)

davenport returns

TSF is happy to see Lindsay Davenport back on the court after giving birth to son Jagger (and Peter Bodo‘s on the same boat).

FYI: Lindsay made her doubles return with Lisa Raymond in last month’s Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven (but lost in the first round the top-seeded team of Huber and Black).

This time around — in her first singles tourney back from maternity leave — she opened with an easy 6-2, 6-2 win over Eleni Daniilidou at the Commonwealth Bank Classic in Bali. She’s also partnered with Slovakian Dani Hantuchova for the doubles draw.

She’s wearing the Nike Women’s Fall ’07 Power Tank in black. Die cut holes (backed with Dri-FIT fabric) accent the cute empire waist on this top.

What do you think of Lindsay’s tank? Are you glad to see her back on tour? Tell us!

Buy: $50 at Midwest Sports.

(photos via Getty Images)

short balls: serbian or croatian?, nadal's pants fit just fine

Nike sighs relief: You know the folks at Nike won’t have their panties in a wad after Rafa Nadal owns up to his butt-picking ways. He blames the bad habit on just that — a habit — and not Nike’s inability to tailor clothes:

“It’s not the fault of the clothes. It’s a habit that I picked up when I was competing when I was young. I am trying to break the habit, but it’s not easy.” (Time)

Get it right: The announcer at Rogers Cup trophy ceremony said that Nole was from Croatia and not Serbia, which caused an uproar and a subsequent apology from Tennis Canada. Djokovic handled the mistake with class, but there are some who want the announcer fired.

Calm down folks. I can think of at least two other people who would be in line to get fired before this guy, and I’m sure they still have their jobs. Besides, after being corrected by Nole in front of the entire tennis-watching world, I’m sure the announcer will make sure to do better research for next year’s tourney.

Novak’s record: Roger and Rafa aren’t the only one breaking tennis records. Djokovic is the first player since Boris Becker in Stockholm ’94 to beat the top three seeds in the same tournament. He’s also the first player to beat Roger and Rafa in the same tournament.

Djokovic’s sausage: The next best thing to a shirtless Nole is him cooking and consuming a huge amount of “mixed meat”. (Fagistan)

Video from the fashion show: Butter provides us video from the ATP Fashion Show in Montreal. Alas, it doesn’t include this.

“College is overrated:” Some guy waiting with me at the bus stop had that written on his shirt (how appropriate). Peter Bodo, fortch, thinks otherwise. Because of the successes of John Isner and James Blake, he’s pushing to make college tennis a viable segue into pro tennis, and ZooTennis agrees.

How Courier plays on the green stuff: Jim Courier reveals his secret to playing on grass: “I don’t transition for (it). I try to make grass bend to my will… I have no intention of becoming a serve and volleyer; I’m going to dance with the date I brought, as the saying goes, and look for my forehand and follow it to net when appropriate.” Note to the USTA: don’t let Jim coach any of our kids during the grass season! (Outback Series)

Kalamazoo winner: Michael McClune wins the Boys’ 18 singles title and Tennys Sandgren wins the Boys’ 16 at Kalamazoo. Congrats. McClune also makes it into the main draw of the Open with a wild card. (Zoo Tennis)

Kids’ Day: The USTA has announced the line-up for this year’s Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.

short balls: from both sides of the pond, juniors tennis, masha mania continues, etc.

Girls — read it and weep: Junior tennis titles do not serve as a predictor of pro success. Of the 20 champions at a Virginia Beach tourney, only two — Lindsay Davenport and Meghan Shaughnessy — cracked the Top 20 and won SEWTA titles. Two others cracked the Top 50. The rest didn’t do so hot. (The Virginian-Pilot via Zoo Tennis)

But it’s not all bad: Tennis.com’s Peter Bodo reminds us that Donald Young is a man who can back up the hype. Justin Gimelstob also chimes in about this 2007 Wimbledon juniors champ.

ESPN continues to tout Sharapova: Even though Serena Williams and Roger Federer have much better tennis credentials than Sharapova, the Russian continues to eclipse them in pop cultural significance. This time, she’s the only tennis player left standing in Page 2’s “Who’s Now” contest.

From both sides of the pond: British Prime Minister shows off his tennis guns while Britney Spears beefs up her arsenal. The pop star was spotted at a toy store picking up a racquet and some balls. Perhaps she’s made another play date with former hitting partner Howie Day?

(OT) From Pringles to Papier Maché: Rumors abound that an Olympic stadium in London could be built out of papier maché. As long as it doesn’t crumble like potato chips, we’ll be fine with it. (Sports Management magazine)

(OT, pt. 2) The new gilded age: Check out this New York Times article on how modern day robber barons deal with their wealth.

my mid-day pick-me-up

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Nope, I’m not done with Wimbledon yet: TENNIS magazine’s Peter Bodo winds down his grass season blogging with some anecdotes; first up is this entry on the on-court antics of French doubles team Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra.

More tennis marketing ploys: This year’s China Open held an open call for a theme song and received over 1,300 entries. And their “Kappa Tennis Cheering Squad Show” (what an awesome name!!) will send winners to compete in the final Beijing round of the Miss World competition.

Making me hungry: Officials for the 2012 Olympic games unveiled the plans for their Pringles-esque Velodrome. The consortium involved with the design includes Hopkins Architects, the firm who designed the LTA National Tennis Centre.

(OT) Mocassins en vogue: NYT‘s David Colman makes a case for Top-Siders.

(photo via tennis.com)

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sharapova turns 20

Happy birthday to Maria Sharapova. She turns 20 today — middle-aged for a gal in professional tennis.

Sadly, she has been in a slump: she’s injured, with a shaken confidence, and armed with a once-strong serve that has become a liability.

What does this all mean for tennis’ “it” girl (and, more importantly, her fans)? Don’t write her off just quite yet, says Peter Bodo. The tenacity that led her to conquer Madison Avenue and win two Grand Slam titles can likely fuel a few more great Maria moments in the next few years.

Here’s to a nice, relaxing birthday. Let’s hope it’s as fun as last year’s TAG Heuer party at Nobu, or the small gathering Motorola threw for her at Hiro in 2005.

Oh, and speaking of things she (allegedly) did last year, Andy Roddick will be signing autographs at the Lacoste in Austin this coming Monday.

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>> short balls: andy roddick
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peter bodo on davis cup uniforms

The ITF today announced the official nominations for the World Group Quarterfinal ties next month.

After the last Davis Cup round in February, Tennis.com’s Peter Bodo chimed in — like all columnists did — about how to resuscitate interest in this event in the U.S. His ideas? (1) Install Hawk-Eye cameras in all courts used (which should be easy, since all 5 matches are played on the same court) and (2) create team uniforms:

National teams have uniforms, period. Yet there was Roddick in black-and-white, and Berdych in red-and-blue yesterday in Ostrava… Davis Cup is about tradition, pageantry and playing for your country. Why have the guys dressed like two hackers at the local park?”

Yesssssssss. Bodo’s on the right track. In case he didn’t know, I should point out that every team has warm-ups that already play on flag colors. But when the players are on the court, everyone wears their own gear, likely because they still have to adhere to sponsorship contracts (remember that Kim Clijsters Olympics disaster?).

So an on-court uniform will take some effort to figure out. And as Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin (and Yonex and adidas) showed us, you can still sport your country’s colors — or at least slap your country name on the back — while keeping allegiance to your sponsor.

Hewitt in two shirts silkscreened with ‘Australia':

hewitt - davis cup - yellow
hewitt, playing doubles, in white

and Safin’s team did a slapdash job putting ‘Russia’ on the back of this adidas shirt. You know someone got sent to the gulag after the match:

safin in white - davis cup

Perhaps Bodo is onto something. If each country designed uniforms from scratch — uniforms in the palette of a country flag, and would jump off from there to include stripes, coats of arms, and any other element that would evoke national pride — the ITF could use this to keep the Davis Cup brand afloat throughout the year. After each tie, put the shirts up online and sell, sell, SELL.

I might offer you some suggestions for designs in the coming weeks.

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