Archive for July 11th, 2011

martina’s masterful night

July 11, 2011

Martina Hingis, serving up a WTT ‘W.’ (TSF image)

Hingis, circa 1997: There was a point tonight when I sat in the bleachers at the Sportimes’ World Team Tennis match on Randall’s Island just outside of Manhattan and thought: Oops, Martina Hingis really has lost it. That was in the middle of Hingis and partner Travis Parrott‘s mixed doubles loss to the St. Louis Aces, putting New York down 10-15 as Hingis headed into the women’s singles bout.

And then Martina Hingis proved me wrong.

If you’ve never been to a WTT tie before, they can be up-and-down affairs. Sets are played to five games, not six, and scoring is a no-ad system, meaning if the game goes to three-three in points (we might call that “Deuce”), it’s a receiver’s choice point that decides the game. Hingis had to win all five of her game to give New York even a tie against the Aces.  | TSF Vault: Martina Hingis

Which is exactly what she did. Taking the court against Maria Sanchez (nope, not Caroline Sanchez. Maria. Yeah, we had never heard of her, either … ) Hingis rolled out four straight games, causing the St. Louis team to sub in doubles expert Liezel Huber in a last-ditch effort to save the match. Huber couldn’t do it and it was game and match to Hingis, 5-0. Team score? 15-15.

That meant the ladies would play a first-to-seven-point tie-breaker, sudden death. If the match reached 6-all, it was down to a final point. After some awkward (and nervous) play from both, the ladies locked in at 6-all. Surprise!

Let me just say for a second that this is exactly when you think Martina Hingis might buckle. She hasn’t played competitively in years, hasn’t been in a tight Grand Slam situation in nearly a decade. And here’s Liezel who is still active on the women’s doubles circuit getting her to 6-6 in a tiebreak. Eek.

But biting down on Huber’s loopy balls, Hingis attacked the way the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport did her own strokes in the early 2000’s. She came into the next and punctuated the win with a headstrong crosscourt forehand volley that was a little bit of a “Take that!” sort of finish to the whole night, which saw Huber at one point hit Hingis rather hard with a volley in mixed.

The small crowd went crazy, and TSF guesses this is just when WTT might feel a little bit like winning, say, the 1999 French Open. Or at least close to it. Especially at the age of 30.

After the match, Hingis was wearing Tonic and a smile. “I just thought, ‘I’m not missing it!'” Hingis told TSF excitedly. “I took my chance on a match point, I feel so much relief! The other girl [Sanchez] I had her figured out, but they put her in and I had to be both aggressive and patient. She played smart.”

But not as smart as you, Martina. Hey 2011, Martina’s back! And she’s brought 1997 along with her.

good idea, michelle

July 11, 2011

First serve, first lady: If there is any woman in the world that Serena Williams might be OK with being upstaged by, it’s First Lady Michelle Obama. The FLOTUS brought along daughters Sasha (holding sign) and Malia to a Washington Kastles World Team Tennis match last week in DC, the trio enjoying Serena’s first competitive tennis on US soil since the 2009 US Open. TSF East felt like taking a cue from Mrs. O — we’re off to the New York Sportimes’ match against the St. Louis Aces tonight in NYC, with a little Chris Evert exhibition thrown in the mix. Follow the action here: @nickmccarvel | @TSFtennis

TSF Vault: WTT | Michelle Obama

(Image via WHMG TV)

trophy watch: those who bounce back

July 11, 2011

No Wimbledon hangovers here: For those players who choose to play the week after Wimbledon on the tours, they never know quite what they’re getting themselves into until they get onto the court and realize, Hey, this isn’t Wimbledon! For the men the surface transition might be a little easier (the only event offered is a grass court tune-down — is that what you call a surface-specific post-Slam small event?), though they go further geographically, crossing the Atlantic while the women stay in Europe (Sweden and Hungary, respectively). 

Newport: While John Isner was left off the losing US Davis Cup team, the 6-foot-9 big-serving American took a wild card into the Campbell’s International Tennis Hall of Fame Championships and won the tourney, the first top seed to do so in its 35-year history. And while he stood much taller than 5-foot-6 Olivier Rochus, the 26-year-old barely inched past the Belgian, 6-3 7-6 (6). The 15-inch difference between the two players was the greatest in ATP history.

Clay ladies: Polona Hercog and Roberta Vinci were happy to be back on the red stuff, winning titles in Bastad and Budapest, respectively. Hercog nabbed her first WTA win with help of an injured Caroline Wozniacki (who withdrew in the second round), beating local Johanna Larsson in the final, 6-4 7-5. Vinci, meanwhile, captured her third title of the year, defeating Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-4 1-6 6-4. See Vinci below.

(Isner and Vinci via the AP; Hercog image by the Swedish Open via the WTA)


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