short balls: california girls (and boys)

TSF takes over the West Coast this week as I made the drive from Cottonwood, Idaho, (yeah, it exists) to San Francisco yesterday for a little R&R and a day at the Bank of the West Classic tomorrow in Palo Alto, at Stanford. Meanwhile, Erwin is holding court in LA for the Farmers Classic, making sure that the boys adhere to the warm weather shining on SoCal and going shirtless on the practice courts.

This week’s version of short balls comes on Tuesday, a little earlier than usual. Enjoy!

I’ll make the drive down to Palo Alto tomorrow for a day at the 40th annual Bank of the West Classic, now the longest-running women’s event on tour. Bank of the West has been the title sponsor since 1992 at this event, something that is unheard of in the days of fast-moving money. (Remember the Lipton Championships? Or the Kraft WTA Tour? Seems like centuries ago… ) The Bank of the West has been at Stanford’s Taube Tennis Pavilion since 1997, and just this year announced partnership with Rebounces, a green company that runs a tennis-ball recycling program nationwide. Balls brought in by members of the public (and those used in the tournament) will be collected and recycled by Rebounces, with the help of FedEx to get them shipped and donated to a local youth tennis program. Thumbs up to that!

There’s always plenty of tennis action on the pages of Twitter, and this week a few more tennis names added themselves to the never-ending world of Tweets. Janko Tipsarevic asked his followers to “bare” with his bad English (gladly, Janko, gladly). WTAers Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Alisa Kleybanova have also joined the Twitter ranks. Anastasia is playing in Istanbul this week, whiles Kleybs was already dismissed from Stanford by a studious Ana Ivanovic. Before she was bounced outta the Bay Area, Kleybs sat down with Chris Oddo for an interview featured on On The Baseline.

The USTA announced yesterday that it is partnering with longtime supporter American Express for a program called Fresh Courts. The program will invest money in 17 different tennis courts in three urban centers, including Los Angeles, DC and New York. In NYC, the benefactors will be our friends over at McCarren Park in Brooklyn. The USTA will head up the fixing up of the courts themselves, as it oversees around 700 refurbishing projects each year.

For a little bit of a fashion fix, I’m digging this Lacoste v-neck (and the model!) I ran across yesterday. $40 online. Meanwhile, Serena might be questionable for the US Open itself, but that’s not keeping Nike from prepping itself for her outfit at said tourney. The Control Court dress (seen here via TennisConnected) is $85 and might – just might – be made famous by ReRe if she’s able to show at Flushing Meadows come late August. This is the black version of her Wimbledon get up, which helped her to her 13th slam title.

short(er) balls are happening after the cut. [Read more…]

short balls: tears of joy

Dressing, acting and crying like a 12-year-old boy (all so charmingly, might we add!), Rafael Nadal embraced the World Cup in all its glory by cheering on his champs, Spain, in South Africa on Sunday. The Spanish team downed The Netherlands 1-0 to win the country’s first-ever World Cup title, and Rafa got all giddy (and shed some tears) over the futbol success. Looks as though Rafa will keep one foot on the soccer field in the near future as it was also announced last week that he is now a partial shareholder of the Real Mallorca club team.

While one future Hall-of-Famer was in Africa rooting on his countrymen, seven tennis personalities were inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame over the weekend in Newport, R.I. Most notably were the doubles tandems of Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge and Natasha Zvereva and Gigi Fernandez. Brad Parks, one of the founding fathers of wheelchair tennis in America, was also honored, as were Derek Hardwick (a pioneer in modernizing the game to its current Open format) and Owen Davidson (a doubles specialist) were also inducted.

In this economy, it might be good to be a tennis player. The US Open announced that the winner of its men’s and women’s singles titles will walk home with $1.7 million each, with the chance of each winning an extra $1 million for talking the US Open Series crown during the summer. The tournament had a 7% increase overall in payout, bringing its total purse to $22.6 million. Ka-ching!

Donnay, once the racquet of champions, is trying to make a resurgence in the global tennis market. The company launched nine new racquets recently, and will use the success of Yanina Wickmayer (their only notable player) to help market the brand. The company once was a big-time player in tennis as the club of choice for Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi, Margaret Court and Cliff Drysdale.

There’s a whole lotta short(er) balls and (OT) after the cut.

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in chicago, wilson anchors duty with design

In the outskirts of Chicago, tennis – and sport – behemoth Wilson calls part of an office tower home. The space, just a stone’s throw from O’Hare Airport, is non-descript from the outside: a big, just-out-of-the-city office building, expansive parking lot, Chicago wintry winds and the red ‘Wilson’ christening the side of the top the structure, seemingly simple and corporate.

Inside, however, the space is anything but simple. And to call it corporate would only be accurate in its ability to be a functional, inspiring space. Wilson occupies five floors in the building, including the top three. The 2007 move from the building next door provided the company to make thoughtful, sustainable and modern decisions on how to utilize its new space both as a workplace and an area to encourage creative interaction by those who work there and those who visit.

Said visitors are greeted in the Wilson lobby by a vast wall that hosts black and white photos of Wilson employees, coaches, trainers, athletes and superstars. The view provides a sort of story-telling for the Wilson name over the last 100 years, since the brand launched in 1914. Images of tennis players are aplenty, their equipment and dress anchored in their era and style. There’s Lindsay Davenport rocking her mid-90s Girl Next Door look. And there’s Pete Sampras winning the Open in 2002. The expansive space beyond the wall (pictured below) displays product in a minimalist, museum-inspired way, using outside light to brighten the room and create a feeling of excitement about the possibilities of sport, and, from Wilson’s point of view, their name.

Read more about the Wilson headquarters and find out what the day in a life of a Wilsontouring team memberentails after the cut.

[Read more…]

short balls: let’s get physical

Somehow the tennis news is still pumping 10 days following the completion of the Australian Open. There was plenty of action this past weekend with the first round of Fed Cup being contested around the world. The biggest story to come out of the weekend on the American front was the success of Melanie Oudin, who returned to her Fed Cup-roots to find a couple of big-time wins when she needed them the most. Oudin followed up that success in Paris this week, winning in convincing fashion over a spiraling Sorana Cirstea.

1, 2, 3: It’s no Britney holiday re-make, but ESPN360.com, which housed several courts of action during the Aussie, will change to ESPN3.com this coming spring. In the release, the company said that tennis coverage will include, “Hundreds of hours of multi-court coverage of all four “grand slam” events as well as select other events.” Kudos, ESPN. Now if only they could broaden their contract with internet providers, we can all be happy.

Swimsuits in February? The tennis-struggling Ana Ivanovic continues the way of the Other Anna, posing for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. We do love the bed of light-pink tennis balls (Wilson’s Hope balls) Ana is lying on in her main shot, but can’t help but wonder if the Serb really understands what she’s making of her career. Is it inevitable she’ll go the retirement route in the next 24 months? It’s certainly possible. But if she does, we really hope she doesn’t stick with the stylist who suggested the tennis-net-as-accessory move. Just not okay, Ana.

Another tennis beauty actually graces the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Andy Roddick‘s wife, Brooklyn Decker was chosen as the cover model for the mag.  Roddick Tweeted about the accomplishment, oozing excitement for his partner. We’ve got to wonder: is it weird for Andy? At least Brooklyn didn’t go the way of the NBA’s George Hill. Oops. Hey George, people save text messages and pictures! It’s a new thing in the 21st century. Get used to it.

Power brokering: While Ivanovic might be making a name for herself more with her off-court moves than her on-court ones, she did sign a lifelong deal with adidas this week, which included ambassadorship after retirement. Roger Federer, whose career and corporate appeal have stayed alive because of superior tennis, was named by Forbes Magazine as the third most powerful name in sports. #4? Mirka. Well, on our list, at least…

Ken is her trophy: This week it was unveiled that Kim Clijsters would have a Barbie doll created after her, honoring her 2009 U.S. Open win. If nothing else, we’re happy to see the doll is donning Kim’s USO outfit, that comfortable Fila look that made her look so business-like but sporty. Good thing it’s not Kim Wedding Barbie, right?

The Midwest’s Slam: I’ve been reading Jon Wertheim‘s Venus Envy this week, throwing myself into the world of the WTA circa 2000 when Vanessa Webb was a familiar name and Oklahoma City still hosted a mid-winter event. The Midwest’s slam seems to have shifted to Cincinnati, where the summer events on the WTA and ATP tours will merge in 2011 in grand fashion, stadium upgrades and all.

Big booties finish second: Find out who Serena Williams thinks would beat her out in a Booty Battle. We weren’t too surprised, either.

ivanovic gets tenure, loses fed cup rubbers

I know it’s turning out to be a heavy flow day from adidas, but we have one more bit…

Silver lining: In the wake of her dismal Fed Cup performance against Russia (which saw her lose both singles rubbers and the doubles rubber), Ana Ivanovic can take a breather after an announcement today that she’ll extended her partnership with adidas to last for her whole career — and she’ll even become a brand ambassador once she retires. “I feel thrilled to be a member of the adidas family and I am very much looking forward to working with adidas on many projects in the future,” she shared through a press release.

Here’s hoping Ana will find her game soon. Otherwise, she’ll be a brand ambassador before she knows it!

See-through: We’re all about that ton-sur-ton jacquard white top that she wore for her doubles match (alongside Jelena Jankovic), though we were hoping she’d have picked a different, bolder color for her singles rubbers.

(image via Getty)

kirilenko, out!

Unlike the No. 1 ranking… Thanks to Chris for tipping us off about Caro Wozniacki being the new face of the adidas by Stella McCartney line. I guess the folks in Portland finally realized that while Maria Kirilenko has the best face/bod combo to show off the British designer’s amazing pieces, the Russian’s game (and thus the fashion show that should come with it) has relegated Stella’s designs to the outer courts (and early rounds) of most tournaments.

And all that will change now that the Woz has exclusive opportunities to wear the collection, starting with the fall/winter 2009 tennis range — including apparel and shoes — at this year’s U.S. Open.

“I feel like I have everything any fashionable female tennis player always dreams about: cutting-edge adidas technologies combined with Stella’s unique designs that actually perform,” said the current world No. 9 via a press release.

And with this partnership, McCartney finally gets to design for someone who wins. “It’s very rare for a fashion designer to dress one of the top 10 players in the world. I couldn’t be more thrilled and happy to be given that opportunity.”

Along with key styles from the tennis collection (Performance Dress, Hot Pant, Bra, etc. in pinks and purples), Caroline will also wear the Skynde, whose Barricade V base is redesigned in a seed pearl/dark grape/white colorway.

She’s been with adidas for a while, of course, joining the company’s Player Development Program back in 2007. The PDP helps nurture young tennis talent through a unique mix of advice and support, giving an extra helping hand towards building a successful career. And FYI, Wozniacki has two titles this year: the MPS Group Championship (on clay, in Florida) and the AEGON International (grass, Eastbourne).

More later: We’re in the process of getting a lookbook for the collection. When it shows up, we’ll post!

What about Maria? Wozniacki will be the only player wearing adidas by Stella McCartney. From the folks at adidas: “Maria Kirilenko continues to be an excellent tennis ambassador for the adidas brand and remains part of the adidas tennis family. From the U.S Open onwards Maria will move out of the range and start wearing the adidas Competition tennis products.”

(image courtesy of adidas)

a wardrobe evolution

After a slight hiccup, the folks at Athletic DNA are back on track by hiring NCAA coach Peter Smith as they’ve begun to finalize junior sponsorship contracts. Also, ADNA (not to be confused with ANTA) is now peddling goods online.

The highlight of their current offerings is this Ignite T, which mascot Robert Kendrick wore during his stint at Roland Garros earlier this year.

The tee — made with moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial material — fit a little too baggy on our skinny frame (but just right if you’ve got guns like Nadal). I guess we’ll have to let the loose fabric billow in the wind. At least we’ll stay dry doing it.

Buy: athletic DNA Ignite T, $49.95.

definitely possibly: andy murray’s wimbledon run begins

robert-kendrick-wimbledon09a

Hometown hope Andy Murray shook off the British curse that plagued Day 1 of this year’s Wimbledon — no local survived to Round 2 — and gave American Robert Kendrick a little window of chance before taking their first round match 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4.

A different strain of clothing: Kendrick’s wearing a clean kit from his sponsor, Athletic DNA. The brand is taking a non-conventional approach to its branding, eschewing the traditional (no lookbook, no product samples) and focusing instead on the juniors (Facebook, college tennis websites); Nike, for instance, won’t give a kid the time of day until they smell like a pro.

So what does this mean for us consumers? The only means to procure their goods is via the company website (the store should be up and running in less than a week). And for those of you wondering: yes, they will sell Kendrick’s awesome animal print crew tank — the one he wore at this year’s French Open.

(image via Getty Images)

adidas to re-release tennis racquets

The three stripes of adidas tennis, already seen on clothing and shoes, returns to racquets when the company revives its equipment line — last hawked by legends Ilie Nastase and Ivan Lendl in the 1980s.

If you don’t know much about these old adidas sticks, check out the amazing photo trove at 80s-tennis.com. That trefoil stencil is sick!

(By the way, I’ve been meaning to write about 80s-tennis for a while. So go check it out. I’ll do a bigger post later…)

In the current incarnation, adidas will produce three ranges to cater to all play levels, and will be named after their signature tennis shoes: the Barricade, Response, and Feather. As far as colors, the Barricades and Response have black/white/red colorways and the Feather — the lightest of the three — will be in white/silver/yellow.

So which of the pros are going to use this for match play? No agreements yet (it’s “a work in progress”, says an insider), but like all other equipment, they’ll probably introduce it to promising juniors with the hopes of getting exposure when the player succeeds on the tour.

Buy: adidas Barricade racquets, $185;Feather range, $165, and Response, $145. Available in the U.S. beginning February 2009.

eleVen spreads its wings

Venus Williams must be getting excited that her clothing line, EleVen is finally catching on. Russian Nadia Petrova, who is no longer with French company Airness, is through to the fourth round of these Championships wearing EleVen whites. The press asked Venus for comment after her first round match.

Q. You brought out a new clothes line here, but you have Petrova wearing your clothes, right?
VW: Uh-huh.

Q. Is that the first time you’ve had another player wearing your clothes? Talk about how you worked that out with her.
VW: I think she’s just in transition between — was in transition, so she I think wanted — she was doing me a favor. So I’m hoping to see her in the clothes. I saw her in some warmups yesterday, but I haven’t seen her in the match clothes. I’m hoping to see her. She’s a great girl. I have a lot of respect for her on and off the court. She’s a good person.

Scoreline: 21st seed Petrova upset the 16th seed Victoria Azarenka to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon. There she will face either Shuai Peng or the Sharapova-thrashing Alla Kudryavtseva.

(transcript via ASAP Sports; photo via Babs)