Archive for July, 2011

(ot): paris walks the plank?

July 20, 2011

Paris, unplugged: We haven’t checked in on the world of Hollywood lately on TSF and felt as though it was about time. And what better way than with Paris Hilton, the Queen of Them All? But it seems as though Queen has become Princess? Or worst yet, Minion?! Here, Paris walks out on Good Morning America when it’s suggested that Kim Kardashian might be better at life than her. Awww, Paris.

Click the image above to watch the video.

TSF Vault: Hollywood

(Screen grab via YouTube/GMA)

summer blockparty: christina mchale in new haven

July 20, 2011

The future Christina? How cute is this little aspiring tennis-playing gal? She joined some 200 kids from the New Haven area for a USTA 10 & Under tennis clinic, where American Christina McHale helped the youngsters with their form. Swinging Head racquets donated by First Niagra, the kids were treated to an afternoon of tennis and face painting (see below) at the “First Niagra Block Party.” The block party was held to help, in part, promote the New Haven Open at Yale, formerly the Pilot Pen. Set for the week before the U.S. Open, this final lead-up tournament will go from a men’s and women’s event to solely a WTA event as the men’s event has headed south to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The 19-year-old McHale, ranked no. 67, received a wild card into New Haven. The tournament already has commitments from world no. 1 and defending champ Caroline Wozniacki, along with former French Open champs Svetlana Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Check out the full player list here.

More great images from the New Haven Open’s Block Party after the cut.

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trophy watch: robin’s robin? & filo’s furry fury

July 18, 2011

Is that a Robin in there? No but really: there’s a bird in his trophy. Swedish fella Robin Soderling played hometown hero yesterday when he fought his was past a tough David Ferrer 6-2 6-2 at the Swedish Open in Bastad. It was Soderling’s second title in three years in front of a home crowd, winning his fourth tour tournament of 2011. Soderling improved to an impressive 10-4 against Ferrer.

Furry fury. We guess Feliciano Lopez wanted to just head to the Colombian mountains, grow a little beard and unzip his JOma jacket — ahhh, the life! But FiLo played some tennis, winning in Bogota over Colombian Carlos Salamanca 6-4 6-3 at the Seguros Bolivar Open.

TSF Vault: Feliciano | Joma

That’s really her trophy. Remember that Andy Roddick commercial where he buys two tickets for the return flight? (Note: He doesn’t have to do that much these days.) This picture reminds us of said commercial. Here the folks in Bad Gastein, Austria, must have been upset that Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez took out their home girl Patricia Mayr in the final (6-0 7-5) so they gave her this giant, ridiculous trophy to PUNISH her. We think it may have worked.

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sunday survey: martina’s next move?

July 17, 2011

More tennis from Martina? Martina Hingis has spent the last few months playing tennis, something she hasn’t really done in years. She’s re-kindled her friendship with old rival Lindsay Davenport, helped lead the New York Sportimes during the World TeamTennis season, announced her own clothing line with Canada-based Tonic and mulled an Olympic mixed doubles bid with Roger Federer in 2012. So it got us wondering here at TSF: what’s Martina’s next move? Choose from our choices below. | TSF Vault: Martina Hingis

(Getty Images photo)

fila’s 100 years on display at the hall of fame museum

July 16, 2011


Fine time for Fila: Monica, Boris, Kim and others are all hanging out at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum — well, at least their clothes are. As part of the celebration of Fila turning 100 years old, a rotating collection of the company’s clothes through the last century is on display at the museum over the next 10 or so months, after the exhibition began in mid June. Fila is also featuring an interactive microsite, Fila.com/100, which we wrote about last month. Fans can scroll through the outfits of Monica Seles, Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas and click on whether they would wear such threads today (do we sense an upcoming retro line?!). Our fave part of the microsite? The umpire collections from past US Opens. Seriously, bring back those umpire polos from the 1989 USO! We love, love, love!

But the Fila folks didn’t just through this celebration together with a few fun things to click on and leave it at that. On the microsite is an entire interactive timeline of the 100 years of the company, which takes you through the brand’s early development starting in 1911 and then looks at its growth to eventually include tennis greats like Pam Shriver and Evonne Gollagong, while looking at the brand’s dabbling in sailing, golf, skiing, swim and other sports wear. We dig it. You can even watch old Fila commercial (we recommend Monica’s 1990 spot), as well. And the brand even explores its basketball roots, looking at famous 90s stars Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse. Remember when?! | TSF Vault: Fila

Browsing: But if you want more of an in-person experience rather than online, the Hall of Fame exhibition will be up until around June of 2012. While it features the likes of Seles (top of the post) and a look through the men’s wear on court through the years (above), it will include four totally different shows from the brand, each living in the museum for about three months. The Hall of Fame Museum is open 9:30 to 5 everyday of the year, sans Christmas and Thanksgiving. Plan your visit.

After the cut: our favorite pieces from the Fila 100 collection and a one more look at the Museum display. (more…)

the great, weird, awesome, strange, geeky, amazing find of the day

July 15, 2011

Combat tennis. Normally we might ask: How do these people actually have time on their hands to do something like this?! But in truth, we really dig this fun, quirky take on tennis meets combat. Sure, it’s overproduced and cheesy, but doesn’t that make it all the more lovable? On this TGI Friday we say, TGFTF (Thank god for tennis fans). More creative stangeness can be found at the video maker’s website, PatrickWillems.com. Willems co-runs Lumberjack Films, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Enjoy!

(Video by Patrick Willems)

short balls: vogue’s fashion through the years, twitter check-ins and the espys looks (and don’t looks)

July 14, 2011

It’s Vogue, dahling: How did we miss this?! Just shy of Wimbledon, Vogue.com used their Vogue Daily outlet to post a 110-year history of tennis fashion, called the “Evolution of Tennis Fashion.” The 26-picture slide show scoots through the early 20th century as eventually makes it to today’s looks, punctuated by the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova. Our favorite look? Katharine Hepburn rocking high-waisted shorts in the 1940s (above, with Ana Ivanovic). | TSF Vault: Vogue

Through the (on court) years: Yahoo‘s Busted Racquet tennis blog edited by Chris Chase is also giving a through-the-years look, but they’re focusing on classic matches. Recently they’ve looked at the classic Pete Sampras-Roger Federer Wimbledon 2001 encounter, and the last Slam Chris Evert would ever win: beating Martina Navratilova at the 1986 French Open. But our fave they’ve written up so far has been from another Martina: Martina Hingis. A look back at her meltdown against Steffi Graf at Roland Garros in 1999. Does it ever get old?!

Tennis trend? 
Planking has caught on in the tennis community. Hard core.On Tennis.com‘s Daily SpinJon Scott checks in on a Laura Robson favorite that kept the US Davis Cup team (too?) busy and entertained last weekend in Austin. And if you’re not quite sure what planking is, read away, folks!

Yes, Sloane does tweet. Our friends over at Adjusting the Net have a good write-up on Sloane Stephens‘ Q&A with reporters yesterday on a call for the Citi Open later this summer. While Melanie Oudin told TSF last week on a similar call that she kept the social networking tool at an arm’s length, Stephens is known as one of tennis’ best (and funnest) tweeters. She says:

I love Twitter. I post everything myself but my uncle been emailing me since I was 10 years old and on the bottom of his emails they have these quotes and I’ve always found them really cool. So I’ve kept all my uncle’s emails and I go back re-read the quotes on there and think “That’s a good one” so I’ll post that one or whatever. Initially it was just being funny and to just throw stuff out there, but then people responded to me saying I love your tweets and can relate to what you say so I started tweeting more and I’m glad people enjoy it.

More: Follow Sloane on Twitter | And TSF, too!

SI.com’s Twitter breakdown. Before we get to chatting up the ESPYs, SI.com has their “Twitter 100″ out today, a list of 100 sports writers, personalities and athletes that the site felt were the ones writing the sports story on Twitter. While Sloane didn’t make the cut, Serbian players Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic did, as did Andrea Petkovic. TennisReporters.net writer (and Mr. Do-It-All) Matt Cronin was on the list, as was gay sports outlet, Outsports.com. Next year, TSF, next year!

Did she just wear that? And no, we’re not talking about Maria Sharapova in this one. Serena Williams was quite the sight to be seen last night at the ESPYs, where Seth Meyers hosted. Serena wore a number that gave quite a peek to her front side and her back, and we can’t quite say we were the biggest fans of such an option. Serena, along with Rafael Nadal, won awards for Best Female and Male Tennis Player, respectively. | More: Who looked better? Maria or Brooklyn Decker?

The (fashionably) tall kids:
It’s rare to see Maria Sharapova not be the tallest one in the room, but as she chatted about her eye-popping heels backstage, Amar’e Stoudemire joined her and the New York Knick had her by a couple inches — even with heels on. Watch below:

More Amar’e: He’s a pretty fashionable guy | Plus: ESPY fashion report card … in which MLB pitcher Brian Wilson — channeling Serena’s pink spandex bodysuit — got a surprising F. Shouldn’t he get a D- for accessorizing well? Erwin?!

OK, one more! The Biebs was giving us a NASCAR look. And come on, you gotta sorta appreciate it, right?!

short(er) balls: They were rocking the (more distinguished) fashion in Newport last weekend at the festivities surrounding the International Tennis Hall of Fame weekend. An Angelea Moore fashion show raised funds for the Hall. | Rihanna is replacing Megan Fox in the Armani underwear campaign, joining tennis’ Rafael Nadal. | AOL has a good gear and apparel guide for tennis fans — everything under $100. | Sybille Bammer retires from the tour after losing her final match in her home country of Austria. Remember two years ago when the mama was a tour force to be reckoned with? No comeback for her, she says. | Feel better, Miles! Miles Raonic, Canada’s new star, is out for six weeks after hip surgery. That puts his US Open in clear doubt, and definitely means he misses out on the Masters stop in Canada next month. | Caroline Wozniacki‘s dad and coach, Piotr, lashes out over criticism that she should replace him as the guide to her game. He did not join her in Bastad last week, where Wozy withdrew due to injury.

(Vogue.com screengrab; Serena/Maria, Wilson and Biever all Getty Images)

sorana and bethanie: paintball warriors

July 13, 2011

Great shot! The WTA has found the perfect mix between its “Strong is Beautiful” campaign and the ATP‘s creative sportraits for the year-end championships. It’s paintball. Yep, paintball! Here Sorana Cirstea and Bethanie Mattek-Sands take out some London frustration on two willing fellas in a back alley. Sure, there are a couple close ups we could do without, but the paint and music and fun of it makes it a great watch. The targets are Matthew Pritchard and Lee Dainton, two parts of a British comedy group (think of the Jackass boys) known as Dirty Sanchez. And yes, they get a little dirty here, too.

(WTA video)

more martina: on tonic, social networking and her fave to-dos in nyc

July 12, 2011

Martina, unplugged: TSF was able to nab an elated (and somewhat breathless) Martina Hingis last night following her World Team Tennis triumph in NYC. We got a few Qs in before the five-time Slam winner was whisked away to sign autographs for kids. They’re below.

TSF: Tell us more about your line with Tonic. What has been your favorite part?
Martina Hingis: We signed at Wimbledon and I’m really excited about working with them. I already wore a collection at Wimbledon (see above) and am wearing them every night [during WTT]. The line will come out in March [2012] in stores.

TSF: How involved have you been in the process?
MH: I have help from the designer, who I’m excited to meet after WTT, when I head to Vancouver [BC] to work on the next line. We have added the finishing touches for this line as I’ve practiced in the clothes. It fits really well for tennis and for yoga or other sports, everything is really comfortable.

TSF: So you’ve been doing yoga all over NYC in Tonic?
MH: (Laughs) I’ll do [yoga] when I go to Vancouver. I did a lot of yoga when I was young, but lately I have been playing tennis more and investing my time differently.

TSF: What about social media: Facebook, Twitter. Do you have interest in joining?
MH: With Tonic, I will be partially involved [on social media]. I hope to help in getting the brand going to be strong and independent [from the rest of Tonic's lines].

TSF: Separate from Flushing Meadows or playing here at WTT, what do you love to do in NYC?
MH: (Eyes lighting up.) I love musicals. I’ve seen so many of them — maybe 20 already? I love Lion King and Mamma Mia. I want to see Sister Act so badly. I hope I have some time to get to Times Square.”

Two more shots of Martina in Tonic after the cut. (more…)

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)

spotted in the city: monica’s bag and djoko on the wall

July 10, 2011

Summer in the city: Walking down 9th Avenue one day in Hell’s Kitchen, I noticed this construction site plastered in newspaper articles. Two of them caught my eye: pieces on Novak Djokovic. A hearty fan (construction worker??) had taken the time and energy to post them in their entirety among the other random clippings smacked on the wall. He wasn’t so lucky at the French, but redeemed himself at Wimbledon. Below: Brand bunnies, can anyone spot the maker of this bag? How about you, TSF West? This hexagon-inspired ditty belongs to Monica Seles — the white Yonex zip-up and barely-visible BlackBerry, too. We snapped this shot the day that TSF chatted with Monica at the HSBC Wimbledon event in Rockefeller Plaza. | TSF Vault: Monica Seles

(Images by TSF)

sunday survey: what’s your favorite part of the summer sched?

July 10, 2011

Summer tennis is here. So while Serena Williams might be off her seat and back onto the court, the summer season marks the one time of the year when a big majority of American tennis fans get to actually watch top-notch, professional tennis. From World Team Tennis to the US Open Series to the year’s final Slam, tennis will stretch from Newport to Vancouver to Washington, D.C. and St. Louis this summer. So we’re curious: which is your favorite? First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters seem to be digging WTT, but what about you. Tell us below.

(Image by Donald Bowers Photography via Flickr)

flashback: agassi wins his first, 1992

July 9, 2011

The same outfits today? Andre Agassi gets inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today in Newport, R.I. It’s no surprise that Agassi, who won eight career Slams, was the no. 1 trending topic on Yahoo! this morning. The dude has done a lot, no? We couldn’t help ourselves from putting up this pic, which has several meanings. Our first thought? That’s really a wig?! Yep, according to Andre it was. And there he is with Steffi Graf, seven years before they would both win the French Open and kindle their romance for good. As for tennis significance? Wimbledon 1992 was Andre’s first Major, and one that he wrote in his book was most unexpected for him — he wasn’t favored to win — and he finally shook off the disbelievers when it came to his early success translating onto the big-time court. Oh right, and the next year Barbara Streisand was there, too. Who doesn’t love a Wimbledon champ?! Congrats, Andre! | TSF Vault: Flashbacks | Andre Agassi

Favorite Agassi moment? Vote on TennisFame.com

(Image via AELTC archives)

short balls: the post-wimbledon edition

July 8, 2011

Changing of the (screen) guard: While the victories of Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic marked somewhat of a changing of the guard on the respective tours, the biggest change at Wimbledon came in the week after the tournament was over: in its TV coverage. It was announced earlier this week that ESPN had outbid NBC for full TV rights of the tournament, meaning the peacock network was pushed out of a gig it had held for some 43 years. And for ESPN? They’ll have the whole shebang for the next 12 Championships. The network team of ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will take over from London starting next year.

That’s a wrap? Did you miss the slew of Wimbledon post ops? If so, here’s a collection: Tignor’s A-List. Tignor’s the rest of them. Wertheim’s mail bag. ESPN’s Wimbledon grades. ESPN’s power rankingsWTA’s video highlights. Forty Deuce’s hilar “pic this.” The Guardian. Oh! The list goes on and on…

Too sexy for ya?  Time ran an interesting piece from its business section on the WTA‘s ad campaign, “Strong is Beautiful.” The thrust of the article: what the ?!?#?#%% Well, not exactly. But, the article points out that sexualizing the women the way this campaign does undermines women’s sports in a sense, and their ability to compete as athletes on court. We certainly see such a point.

The Journal recommends some tennis whites — including Boast — this summer. (WSJ)

Feeling Boastful? You guys know that TSF isn’t the only place online that talks about tennis fashion. OK, but we admit it: we’re the only ones that talk about it everyday. Anyway, the Wall Street Journal got in on the tennis fashion game during Wimbledon, running a piece that examined the cultural shift of the industry as it’s moved through the decades. Nope, tennis isn’t a rock-star sport driven by John McEnroe anymore, but the clothes he wore might be making a bit of a comeback. Featured in the article were one of TSF’s faves, Boast. | TSF Vault: Boast

Doesn’t it vibrate? While most of us have learned to silence our phones or at least put them on vibrate while at work or in public, it doesn’t seem as though Alize Cornet has attained such a habit. The Frenchwoman was down match point in the first round of the Swedish Open this week against world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki when a phone started ringing. Wozy first tried to ignore the noise, but it persisted, and she stepped back from the line to see if someone would answer/silence/ignore the call. It was then that her opponent, Cornet, ran to her bag to switch off the phone that had been ringing — hers! Hilarity. Video below:

Roll the tape: Seems as though the fellas at Tennis.com — Peter Bodo, Steve Tignor and Ed McGrogan — have a new outlet for their weekly chats. The trio has teamed up with BNP Paribas for a sit down in a round-table discussion called “The World of Tennis.” This week they talk about Andre Agassi, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame tomorrow in Newport, R.I. | ESPN: Agassi’s top 10 moments

Short(er) balls: It ain’t “Wimble-TIN.” Sportscaster raises money for charity by fueling PSA over pronunciation of Wimble-DON. | In case you forgot, Novak Djokovic is no. 1 in the world now. HEAD hails the king. | Are you reading Jonathan Scott‘s musings on Tennis.com’s “The Spin?” If not, you should be. | Lindsay Davenport is preggers and (tastefully) pulls out of the WTT season, via doctor’s orders. | This might be a little old, but who cares? It’s Maria Sharapova talking about Cole Haan. Take note, Martina Hingis. | Shouldn’t every short(er) balls end with Djoko dancing on stage? We think so.

(Image by George Ellison via Flickr.)

melanie oudin: on the comeback trail?

July 7, 2011

Or perhaps a better title for this post would have been, “Home is where the belief is.” However you pin it, Melanie Oudin is about to drop out of the top 100. The Georgia gal who took the tennis world by storm at the 2009 US Open has struggled in the 22 months since she won four matches and captured all of our imaginations along the way. After a semi-decent 2010 in which she went 25-24, Oudin has epically struggled this year, winning just eight matches in 30 tries. Between the French Open and Wimbledon, she won just three games in two matches (to be fair, she went out to Schiavone and Ivanovic, respectively).

But if Oudin loves anything it’s the hardcourt season in America. On Wednesday afternoon she talked with reporters about the inaguaral Citi Open, which is being billed as a Washington D.C. event but taking place in College Park, Md., near the University of Maryland campus. The event happens July 23 to 31, a week before the men take the court at the Legg Mason Classic. If anything, we’re digging the tourney’s entry page (see below). | TSF Vault: Melanie Oudin

TSF got to listen to Melanie talk the reporters (and herself) up for a few minutes and she weighed in on a couple of things we had been curious about.

TSF: Melanie, tell us about your plan for the summer. What is your schedule going to be other than the Citi Open?
Melanie Oudin:
Nothing is really finalized right now. I’m not really worried about playing qualifying right now. It might be good for me to play someone who isn’t in the top 50 in the first round. Qualifying can help me get some matches under my belt and be ready for a main draw match. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for me, I think.

I took a wild card to play in [USTA Pro Circuit event] Lexington. First of all, I love that tournament. It was the first pro tournament that I ever won. The people there are so nice and I felt like going back there where I first started and won my first tournament would help a lot and hopefully it’ll be a really good week.

TSF: Recently Donald Young got into a bit of trouble on Twitter for hurling some choice words at the USTA. You’ve dabbled on Twitter in the past, but do you think you might do more of it in the future?
MO:
I’m on some but not a lot. I would never put something really personal up there because I don’t feel like that’s what you put on Facebook or Twitter. I know Donald did apologize so I think everything is good with them now. I just don’t think it’s the place to be too personal and put any huge information on there but I think it’s good for fans to be able to follow different athletes and people they’re inspired by.

But the real question is: what word is going to be on her shoes this year?! Get on that, Wilson!

(Getty Images photo)

10 do’s (and don’ts) from the uso ball person tryouts

July 7, 2011

He looks scared. And he should be. Tina Taps runs a tight ship. And rightfully so. As head of the U.S. Open ballperson operations at Flushing Meadows, Taps employs nearly 300 people each year to make sure that the matches of the Open not only operate well, they do so almost flawlessly. And her end result? Usually perfection. Sure, there’s a mis-thrown ball here or fidget there, but these are the best of the best. And when you’ve had the chance to experience the vigorous tryouts that Taps puts on, you’re going to do the job just fine.

A couple of weeks ago I headed out to the National Tennis Center in Queens to survey the scene of tryout day. Last year I had done a mock (or was it real?!) tryout myself, getting put through the ordeals of running and catching and sprinting my way through Court 7. With ball people, it’s really all about timing. If your timing is off coming to grab a netted ball, you could delay a match. And if you’re a little early, well, just ask this French kid what happens.

But this year I was simply observing, something I was happy to do. I also was able to corral a few veterans of the U.S. Open ballperson world to talk with me for a few minutes about a few things you should absolutely do, and a few things you should absolutely never do while on the court, providing TSF with 10 do’s (and don’ts) from the uso ball person tryouts.

1. DO: Pay attention. No really, don’t get caught unaware. “Hands go behind your back. During the point if you’re scratching your shoulder or wiping your head or shifting your body, it’s not really good because if the players see that it could throw them off,” says Nathan Hollins, a 21-year-old veteran ball person who has worked the U.S. Open for eight years. “You’re trying to stay as still as possible.”

2. DON’T: Talk to a player. But eye contact? That’s a yes. Want to make eyes at Feliciano Lopez? Here’s your chance. “You always want to make eye contact,” adds Laray Fowler, a 26-year-old who has been working the Open for over a decade. “Some players won’t say anything [verbally], but if they look at you and they point at what they want, then you know.” But what about talking to them? “You cannot talk to a player first, but if they do engage you in conversation — they start it — then you can talk to them,” she clarifies. “But if they ask you something like ‘What should I do? Should I hit a backhand? What should I do with my backhand?’ You can’t answer that.”

3. DO: Hold that umbrella right. Cuz if a tennis shoe goes uncovered… “When you’re doing the umbrella you want to make sure that the whole player is covered,” Hollins tells TSF. “Sometimes you have the tendency to put the umbrella over them and then look out into the crowd. You want to be sure that you’re paying attention to the player and that the umbrella is covering the whole player with the shadow.”

4. DON’T: Take the foil off the unopened water bottle you’re handing to Venus or Serena. “They’re Germaphobes,” another veteran ball person told TSF. Otherwise, Serena might do this.

5. DO: Drink water. “Any time the players get water, we can get water,” Hollins assures us. Good, because we don’t want any USO ball people ending up like this poor kid. The ball people are on two-hour shifts on court, with a crew of six that is led by a crew chief — usually a veteran — who makes sure everyone is feeling all right, has consumed water and doesn’t have to be removed from the court. The ball person “perch,” as it’s known is just under the bleachers on Grandstand. “In the perch you can call out and have someone come down and replace anyone who is tired or hungry. The crew chief makes that call,” Hollins explains.

6. DON’T: Hand Andy Murray his towel any other way than on his racket. Venus and Serena aren’t the only player with tics on the court. “Everyone has their little habits,” Hollins says. “Some people need their towels handed to them in a certain way. Andy Murray? he likes his towel on his racket. Mardy Fish likes his handed to him in a ball.”  Obviously this ball kid didn’t get the Murray memo.

Tough competition: Taps told TSF that around 500 people tried out for some 75ish spots this year. Maybe it’s the economy?

7. DO: Mess up. It’s human! “When they’re first coming in, people sometimes don’t have the best throwing arms. Or they throw or run between first and second serves. They’re a little nervous and emotions run high so we just remind them to relax and stay calm and positive,” Hollins explains. “When a ball person messes up they think they’re on some list and then they try to do everything perfectly and they’re too tight.” But if you actually do something wrong, Novak Djokovic will punish you!

8. DON’T: Think Andy Roddick won’t want his towel between every point. He will. “Roddick is kind of one of the annoying ones to me,” Hollins admits. “He wants his towel between every point. As a tennis player, I understand that every player has their own traditions. They’re superstitious. I understand it, but it’s still annoying to run for his towel between every point.”

9. DO: Wear sunscreen. “There was one time on Grandstand when I forgot to put sunscreen on,” Fowler recalls, smiling. “I was in the back and there were fans behind me that kept telling me that my shoulders were getting really red. And I knew they were right — I could feel it. In the middle of the point this lady is [reaching over the barricade] and putting sunblock on my shoulders. It was hilarious!”

10. DON’T: Forget to have fun. After 15 years at the open, Fowler is keen on this one. “I laugh all the time, even when I’m not supposed to. I find everything around me funny. There are some ball people who take it super seriously. It’s three weeks out of the year where you get to have fun!” And why don’t you fall a little, too? Because second to women’s figure skating people love watching ball people fall. And fall again.

And if you can’t have some fun as they recommend, let Jimmy Fallon help:

(Ballperson images by Chris Nicholson courtesy of the USTA)

tsf podcast: wimbledon winners (+ celebrations), caroline on clay and our fashion faves

July 6, 2011

Listen up, Caro! Erwin and I had the pleasure of being joined on the TSF podcast by Jonathan Scott, who has done tremendous things in these realms and also writes daily on Tennis.com for their gossipy thread, the Daily Spin. We were all about the post-Wimbledon gossip on this podcast, where the three of us weigh in on Novak’s grass-eating habits, what SW19 meant for Kvitova (and Sharapova) and how it’s possible that Caroline Wozniacki is playing this week — on clay! Plus! Our take on London fashion, our favorite moments from the 2011 grass Slam and how much this week really means to one Andy Roddick. Click on the link below to easily download our musings onto your iTunes!

Post-Wimbledon musings: TSF Wimbledon Wrap 2011

TSF Vault: More podcasts | Davis Cup details | Caro’s Swedish Open draw

(AP image)

(tuesday’s) sunday survey: your thoughts on the wimbledon that was

July 5, 2011


Say so long, y’all! While we’re a little teary-eyed that Wimbledon is all finished and shuttered for the year, there is this to mull over: at this time next year, the Championships will be wrapping up and the Olympic Games — which will be held at the All England Club — will be just three weeks away. Yeah. Three. It’ll be glorious and strange all the same.

For all you Brits out there: The 2012 Olympics tennis jobs are up. Apply!

There’s so many moments to love from the last two weeks. But which was your fave? Pick one below and leave behind a comment, too, if you so please.

(Image by MOLIBLOG via Flickr.)


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