radiotennis.com selected by usta to broadcast ‘college matchday’ series

radiotennis.com chosen by USTA to broadcast "College MatchDay" series

RadioTennis.com has been selected by the USTA to webcast the trial run of their new “College MatchDay” Series. The campaign, which should be in place in 2014, will highlight two matches per week throughout the college tennis season.

The College MatchDay series kicks off Sunday, February. 24, with one of the biggest rivalries in women’s college tennis — the University of Florida versus Stanford University in Gainesville, Fla. The men will then be in the spotlight on March 22, when the University of Virginia hosts Duke University in Charlottesville, Va.

(RELATED: Virginia men win the 2013 ITA National Men’s Indoor Championships)

“There is so much great competition in college tennis, and we’re thrilled to be able to spotlight some of the game’s finest teams, players and coaches with College MatchDay,” said Virgil Christian, Director, Collegiate Tennis and Market Development, USTA. “We’ve got four of America’s finest college tennis programs launching College MatchDay this season, and we’re looking forward to growing the series in the years to come.”

“RadioTennis.com is proud to be associated with this new and dynamic series,” states RadioTennis.com’s CEO Ken Thomas. “And we look forward to sharing American intercollegiate tennis with our listeners not only here in the United States, but also and around the world.”

Broadcast Schedule: February 24, Stanford University vs. University of Florida; March 22, Duke University vs University of Virginia.

What about TV? JFTR, we’d watch this if it were on Tennis Channel.

short balls: guest appearance

Short balls is making a weekend appearance, so don’t get too worked up… But you might be excited to hear – maybe you should be sitting down for this – that Marv Albert is joining CBS‘ team for its March Madness coverage. You tennis fans remember Marv, don’t you? He’s the basketball commentator that was tapped by TNT in 2000 to help the network at Wimbledon. His famous making-a-tough-jumpshot phrase (“Yesssssssssssss!”) didn’t really translate well to the game of ball and racket. At all. That reminds us: TNT was once the home of Wimbledon?! Oh how things change in 10 years.

Earlier this week it was announced that Andre Agassi will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer in Newport. The announcement didn’t come as a total shock to anyone, though the Hall did put together a great video to capture the events that took place in Las Vegas for the announcement itself:

Short(er) balls: We stumbled across this site of gents being sampled from all walks of life. Even Novak Djokovic gets a piece of the action. | And if you ever consider leaving a nasty comment, we will track you down…

Picture this: You guys missed Heineken Day. But these fellas didn’t.

(photo via ao.com)

last call for USA

If only we could get CBS to step aside…

As great a tournament the Open has been this year, when considering the event in its entirety, you’ve got to start with the coverage (the face of the event, after all). I don’t know if it’s because of the conventions, but I’ve been more conscious of how the tournament has been delivered to me this year than ever before.

In case you haven’t heard, this is USA Network’s last year covering the Open. With its bevy of weaknesses aside — I’ll get to a few in a sec — can we just say thank god for USA’s day and weeknight coverage? CBS’ work might not be different from years past, but the grating horn section of their intro and outro, the overexposed light, Mary Joe’s pre- and post-match interviews, Dick Enberg — how much of it can one take?

Thanks for the relief, USA, but here are a few things your replacement can improve upon:

— When Mueller and Davydenko were 9-10 in the fourth set tiebreak, the producer switched over to the start of the Andreev/Federer first set tiebreak, despite McEnroe’s request to stay put. (They did show the end of the tiebreak on tape, but the piss had been taken.)

— The night-match guests invited to join Ted Robinson and John in the booth really tested our patience and sanity: the Ryder Cup captain left me yawning and Boris Becker’s visit felt bloated.

— McEnroe and Jim Courier both have good and bad: Mac offers great insight and passion until he eventually devolves into his usual self-aggrandizement, occasionally revisiting earlier top form. Courier gets major points for his latest insights, my favorite being pointing out that guys ranked in the 80s in the world could be starters on an NBA team (a sentiment I’ve been aware of for a while). On the other hand, he’s still Mr. Smug.

By the way, I’m really intrigued by all the personal bits that Courier alludes to in his commentary, so I’m asking my readers for the latest info on this man: is his Manhattan apartment a duplex? penthouse? both? What kind of art does he collect? What Rosetta Stone tape is he currently working on?

Hope you enjoyed USA’s last night of coverage, and that CBS doesn’t give you too much of a hangover.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

thank god for usa network

Thank god for USA Network. In their decades of covering the U.S. Open, they’ve settled into a style that’s worlds better than CBS‘ (such a relief!). They also keep it consistent and simple: no unnecessary graphics; minimal “comeback kid” or “on the rise” profiles; ample servings of quality matches not involving Americans; a nice sampling of play (i.e., they’ll cover those outer court, low-Q-rating matches in the first week); and they take air breaks of very reasonable length — essentially just enough to cover the changeovers.

The Commentators:

  • Jim Courier — Wow. Where does one begin? With Mr. Courier, it seems we have a perfect balance of pros (brilliance) and cons (hubris, arrogance). Let’s start with the pros: here’s a guy who can back up the goods. Not unlike Johnny Mac, he also has tremendous access to the players and makes good use of it. He’s smart guy, surprisingly articulate, and occasionally makes insightful cultural references.But the true bonus with Jim is his tendency to deconstruct tennis broadcasting: “I’ve just been told I can’t say ‘hot chicks’ anymore,” he said the other day in reference to a comment about Safin’s former box-sitters. Or “I’m being told I need to wrap it up,” he’ll say, I’m sure to the great chagrin of his producers. Novice? Yes. Novel? Definitely.

    Another example: the other night, after a long post-match analysis from Jim, host Al Trautwig asked if he wanted to keep going, upon which Jim said, “Okay. Can I read your prompter?” This brashness with which Courier tears down the fourth wall is quite a breath of fresh air.

    He even got into it with Tracy Austin, insisting that Radwanska, who upset defending champion Maria Sharapova, used gamesmanship and broke the locker room code of ethics in attacking Masha’s second serve. Austin countered that this brashness is just the way players are today. Courier’s apparent anger, verging on hostility, brought a little verité into the USA Network booth.

    All that said, Courier is far from perfect: quite often he is the epitome of smug. “Let me tell you how much I know about this; and let me also tell you how much I know about that,” he seems to be saying. He’s passionate — which of course is important — but when he continues to expound deep into a game without stopping, he’s cut off his nose to spite his (and our) face(s). One wonders whether Courier has spent any time reviewing tapes of his broadcasts; if he does, one hopes that he’ll notice his tendency to ramble. Once he corrects this, we may have a truly great player-cum-commentator on our hands.

  • Tracy Austin — All designer business suits (bright blue ones, no less) and mind-numbing, somewhat grating patter, Austin has milked her playing days into a commentary career like a character on The Surreal Life. (Racqonteur gives her a C-.)
  • Al Trautwig — Nice deep pipes and always solidly on-the-ball, Trautwig is the best studio host USA has had. His transitions are impeccable and I’ve never seen him falter in improv mode. A weakness: in his one-on-ones, he doesn’t allow the interviewee much time to respond. But at least he keeps things moving.
  • Michael Barkann — This long-time roving reporter is great at what he does, and far too often it’s a relatively thankless task: I wouldn’t want to be interviewing players who clearly don’t want to be interviewed (which seems to be the case before every Ashe stadium match), but he does it (though I’m fairly sure it wasn’t his idea). He’s also accomplished at the mostly heinous celebrity-in-the-crowd interviews, an equally unenviable task that he manages to get done (thankfully there have been few of them thus far in ’07, though we were horrified to see him sit down for a long exchange with Donny Trump during the Ferrer-Nadal match). He’s at his best doing the roving reporter thing, perhaps throwing in a quick exchange with a fan or two.
  • Ted Robinson — Almost no complaints; there is nothing about Ted that’s not to like. He has a great memory for past matches and players; he keeps things moving but doesn’t ever seem to talk too much; he throws out some relevant anecdotes when things on the court are a little slow; and he knows how to keep it brief at crucial periods in a match. His one downside, which has been minimal at this Open, is his tendency to set McEnroe up for patting himself on the back, which he (Mac) clearly doesn’t need any help with. Still, overall Robinson is a key fixture for USA’s coverage. (add Ted’s blog to your reading list.)
  • Bill Macatee — he’s substantially better here than on CBS. He’s a nice, dry, straight man with an ample smidgeon of personality. Easy enough to tune out, or in, as is appropriate.
  • John McEnroe — Hey Mac: keep the focus on the match and the players and off yourself, and we’re all good. Has the way that Mac has been doing a little biographical digging, and age comparing (is Hyung-Taik Lee the oldest player left, or is Moya?) shown signs of maturing? Heaven forbid.

(photo of Courier by mugley)

Michael Shaw is currently following the Open from his couch on the West Coast.

RELATED POSTS
>> TSF’s u.s. open archive
>> michael shaw archive

more tennis week backlash

For those of you who haven’t picked up Tennis Week, check out Kenneth in the (212)’s post about the makeover. Mr. Walsh includes some page scans, and some commentary on a few more sections of the magazine.

tennis week magazine makeover - scan from kenneth from the 212

While they probably shouldn’t have picked Ashley Harkleroad to follow around for a day of shopping and pampering (c’mon, IMG — you couldn’t do better than Ashley effin Harkleroad?), and that look-a-like piece is sooo the “long lost sibs” section of Jon Wertheim‘s mailbag, I still stand my ground: the publishers deserve props for trying to reinvigorate the interest in the game. So what if they’re taking the Teen Vogue route? Let them. The myspace age isn’t going to get hooked on tennis by analyzing tournament draws and rankings. We need to get the circulation up on this sucker, we need to stop trying to put all the TV coverage on the Tennis Channel, and let’s get rid of having to pay to use public tennis courts.

RELATED POSTS
>> Tennis Week‘s makeover

tennis week magazine: one man’s trash is another man’s…

tennis week cover - sharapova

Tennis Week Magazine unveiled the magazine redesign with an issue entitled “Tennis is Back in Fashion” (and a glammed up Maria Sharapova on the cover. They lost a few sections, and changed the size of the book to that of the old TV Guide.

Some tennis fans aren’t taking the change well, though. They’re accusing IMG, who’d taken over the magazine, of turning it into a big fluff machine.

A poster on Tennis Warehouse: “Tennis Week magazine is now about fashion. It is a cross between People and Vogue.”

Okay, I understand your concern, BUT: If you want to read about results and scores, there are 2,000 other magazines, websites, and blogs you can go to for all that information. I say we welcome this magazine that shows the sport in a different (might I say refreshing) light. We all complain that tennis isn’t embraced enough in the U.S. Perhaps this will help drum up some interest.