Pausing For Breath – Middle Sunday

by Savannah

For some esoteric reason known only to the AELTC elite, there is a break in play on this day, Middle Sunday, during Wimbedon. Is it time to let it go as an anachronism? Player’s today are fitter than they were in the past when exertion was a man or woman lumbering to the net for a return volley after sipping a Pimms. Most of today’s players spend the day practicing anyway so it’s only the fans who claw at the walls and experience existential angst (not to be confused with teenage angst) while waiting for play to resume on what’s billed as Manic Monday. Everyone plays. It’s a fun day. But that doesn’t make up for today where tennis fans have to find mental and physical busy work until play resumes.

Speaking of anachronisms let’s talk about grass courts and their place in the world of modern tennis. Yes it’s traditional, the first surface, but with today’s highly physical game it’s becoming something of a liability. Players have been slipping and falling regularly during the first week, enough so that even tennis commentators who are usually spouting inanities have begun to talk about it. Many players could look at what happened to Bethanie Mattek Sands and think “There but for the grace of God…” Yes she’s injured and had surgery on that knee before but what will it take for the AELTC to try and do something about it?

Ironically some are calling for a return to the faster courts of the past. I mean really? The racquets used today, not to mention the style of tennis, would be insane if played on a faster grass court. People keep whining about the courts being slow but they don’t talk about the matches where you could barely see the ball and scoring was serve serve serve, forehand return, serve. It was dull. The modern era has brought athleticism to a sport where it wasn’t always a requirement. For fans to enjoy the modern game they need to be able to see the way the ball reacts to the player’s style. To do that you need slower surfaces.

Not that I think grass is going anywhere. It’s here to stay and players have to try to escape intact. Part of the reason the adjustment is so difficult was mentioned by Tracy Austin-Holt during one of Tennis Channels gab fests. She talked about the adjustment the body has to make to play well on grass and called it “tush burn” if I recall correctly. Your glutes and thighs are used differently on grass and it results in some soreness. Of course no one followed up on her comment then and haven’t now. I like knowing these things. It helps me appreciate grass court play more.

End Notes

ESPN’s coverage has been very good. The broadcast quality has been excellent, and when I got to watch a top US junior play on Court 5 yesterday I was in heaven. There is the matter of the 30s – 40s delay. Maybe next year. It also helps if you keep the sound level low enough to avoid some of the commentators. There was one who said during a discussion of all the falls this year that until her favorite fell there is no problem.

Yeah, keep the sound down.

I don’t understand how anyone coming off of an injury would think it was smart to play no warm up events and use her Protected Ranking to get into the Main Draw not match fit and think she was going to do well. Talking to you Sloane Stephens.
And the comm who said Petra Kvitova was fit needs to visit their eye doctor stat. She predictably ran out of gas after improbable wins in her run up events. At least she played them although I wonder if it was a wise choice. She can’t make a fist with that hand yet.

John McEnroe continues to prove he is the worst commentator of all. He always shows up uninformed, speaks almost entirely about the past, and has no idea who is who.

Is it time to discuss the domination of the WTA by Eastern European women and why that is? Why have women from Western Europe and the United States not been able to step up to the plate? On the mens side there is European domination but mostly Western European. Maybe that’s an end of year post.

I wonder what time baseball starts today? Maybe there’s a track meet?

©2017 Savannahs World All Rights Reserved

I Didn’t Go

by Savannah

Qualie’s Week at the US Open is usually a must do for me. There are new players to see and evaluate. Practice sessions to watch. New foods to sample. This year there was also a new layout to walk through with the best 1-2 deal in tennis now gone. The changes were brought about by the new roof which I’ve seen in passing several times now and seeing it in the more relaxed and family oriented atmosphere should’ve been a thing.

And yet I didn’t go.

I looked over the Qualie draw for both men and women and found myself saying more than once “who are these people”? I think I follow tennis pretty well and usually there are one or two juniors, maybe more, that catch my eye and who I’d like to see but this year I have to say there aren’t many who’ve caught my attention.

I thought that maybe it was my fault. Maybe my resistance to hype is too high and I’ve been ignoring some phenom that’s going to set the world on fire. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case. I didn’t see much commentary from the professionals on Twitter about match play the past four days. Most of the commentary came from fans who were getting a chance to see their faves up close and personal. The pictures they posted were a prominent feature of Tennis Twitter. And that was it.

There was no excuse for me not to go weather wise either. It was perfect weather for me. Warm and breezy is my perfect summer day but I opted to stay home. And that worries me.

I write a tennis blog. Can I call myself a professional not professional fan? I guess. Tennis occupies a lot of my time and has for many years but I find myself struggling with boredom these days. It reminds me of when I took a long break from tennis a few years ago. There was just nothing happening for me back then and I feel that situation coming on for me again.

Maybe it’s because I see no inspiring games, no legit stars on the horizon? For it’s US Open issue the New York Times chose to profile Nick Kyrgios on it’s cover. The article is written by someone I’ve never seen do tennis for the Times before and features a photo of Kyrgios with his chain in his mouth, edgy gelled up hair and the sneer that is required of all young men these days who want to be famous.

The WTA? They’re pushing (hoping) Angelique Kerber will find a way to get to the number one ranking. I think if she’d done it prior to the US Open she’d be the one with her face plastered all over tennis oriented media. Their former top pick Eugenie Bouchard is too focused on suing the USTA per the USTA and not on playing her best tennis in New York again per the USTA. Who else do they have? Oh yeah, Petra Kvitova who said she’s not the one for long practices and that an hour is enough for her to prepare for a match, confirming what those who know her best have always said about her – that she’s lazy. Losing badly to Agnieszka Radwanska just before the Open was really good prep Petra.

And who is the above mentioned USTA flogging? The obnoxious Harrison brothers. Sam Querrey. A jingoistic Steve Johnson who dared the USTA to give former champion Juan Martin del Potro because he could beat an American in an early round and that would piss off a lot of American players.

Madison Keys ? After Kerber took her apart at the Olympics? It’s not that she was taken apart it’s how Kerber dismantled her and the fact that Keys had no answer, could not adjust to what was being done to her. But yet I see some picking her to win it all in New York. Amazing. There is also the diminutive Lauren Davis and the rich bitches who seem to be doing as best they can within the USTA system. I will say that Louisa Chirico has shown signs of not being beholden to the US powers that be though. The others seem doomed to ball bashing mediocrity.

But tennis is tennis. Who would’ve thought Rio would be the greatest tournament of 2016? Maybe I’m wrong in being so pessimistic about the future of the sport. I hope I am. My daughter and I have Grounds Passes for Monday and Wednesday.

©2016 SavannahsWorld All Rights Reserved

This and That

by Savannah

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The law of unintended consequences is a weird thing. It comes into play when the person who falls victim to it least expects it. When David Law of @DavidLawTennis posted the above picture on his Twitter feed I’m sure he wasn’t intending on making a commentary about what is wrong with tennis journalism. After all this was just a snapshot of his colleagues, his fellow tennis journalists. Whether he intended to or not he did end up making a very profound statement about his peers and why tennis is covered the way it is.

Look closely. Or not. You really don’t have to look too closely to see that all of the men in the picture are white men. Some have gray hair and some don’t but that is the extent of the diversity shown. No women. No people of color. No younger men. Back in the days when print journalism ruled there was the expression S”a picture is worth a thousand words”. In this case I think the expression is all that’s needed.

Ivan Lendl

I’m probably the only person who is disappointed in Andy Murray‘s decision to work with Ivan Lendl again. Lendl, you’ll remember, walked away from his coaching gig with Murray because he didn’t want to travel. Murray, to the consternation of the crew pictured above, chose Amélie Mauresmo as his coach. The two did well together but I think they both underestimated the demands of parenthood and parted on speaking terms. Almost immediately the old boy network began calling for him to go back to Lendl. Was it because the partnership with Mauresmo was bad? No one said that. It had to do with who Mauresmo is and the fact that she didn’t fit into the OBN’s view of the world.

So why is Lendl back? Why didn’t he work with fellow Czech Tomas Berdych? Who knows? It’s been reported that Berdych really wanted Lendl in his camp and that he is extremely disappointed that Lendl decided to work with Murray again.

I have no idea why Lendl does what he does. The entire situation reminds me of a romantic one where your lover/partner walks out on you saying “It’s not you it’s me” and then shows up again a bit later saying that they made a mistake. Yeah. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

So why am I talking about the Murray/Lendl situation and not the Milos Raonic/John McEnroe situation? Is it better for Raonic who has shown he will hire former players as coaches that he feels will help him master a particular surface (Carlos Moya).

Keep in mind that United States and Canadian tennis federations are very close. Also keep in mind that John McEnroe has been begging for anyone in the current crop to players to hire him. Forget the fact that he knows as much about playing modern tennis as I do. But he’s been a commentator for years you say? Yes he has – one of the least informed and ignorant ones to sully the airwaves. He makes it up as he goes along, painfully so, but he is still a force in US tennis circles where it’s an open secret that they wondered why one of their own hasn’t been selected to rub shoulders with the current tennis elite. During a recent broadcast on Tennis Channel the camera went to McEnroe on the sidelines after almost every point. Don’t ask me why. As for JMac he looked as if he were having a grand old time and why shouldn’t he? He got what he wanted and so did the US tennis establishment. Next they’ll be pushing for drug cheat Agassi to work with someone.

Frankly I don’t see what these older players bring to the modern top player. The modern players are physically fit, play a physical game and for the most part are quick mentally and physically. That was not the case when Jmac and the others played. To me the hiring of these older players is a type of welfare system for them. They made nowhere near the kind of money players make today and if they can get on the gravy train they will. That is all I see when I see these older men (it’s all men except for Mauresmo’s brief time in the sun) sitting in players boxes and being gloated over by US comms and the tennis press (see above)as some kind of demigod(s).

It’s funny that on the women’s side the only foray into hiring an older player was made by Agnieszka Radwanska when she hired, and quickly fired, Martina Navratilova. Navratilova has shown she’s kept herself better informed than John McEnroe has and yet no one is willing to take her on as a coach. Why? Why aren’t there more women coaches in the WTA? Why are the same names recycled between the women when there is need for a change in their teams? Are the women being sexist when it comes to who coaches them? It could go back to the Academy for them where men pretty much rule the roost. Ironically it’s Australian women – Daria Gavrilova comes to mind – who have hired female coaches. I should mention that Madison Keys worked with Lindsay Davenport for a minute. We were told that the demands of parenthood made Lindsay staying with the emotional Keys untenable.

The Olympics

Countries are announcing their Olympic rosters over the next few days. I find it ironic that players like John “God’s Country” Isner don’t feel it’s in their best interest to play for the United States and would rather take the opportunity to gain points playing smaller tournaments. It’s their choice and in the end a player has to do what he or she thinks is best. It’s ironic that the oft criticized Venus Williams and Serena Williams talk openly about their excitement in playing for the country that made them rich. There are priorities and there are priorities in life as well as sports.

End Notes

It’s grass court tennis time. It goes without saying that it’s not really my favorite surface. The modern game is too fast, to physical, to make play on the surface fun to watch or totally safe for the players. Add to it the damp of the British summer and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

In case you haven’t noticed Dominic Thiem is the new boy wonder in men’s tennis. Maybe new isn’t the right word. He’s been talked about as the next big thing for some time now but he’s played a lot and played well recently. Coming into Wimbledon where he’ll have to play and win seven matches I wonder if Thiem will be able to hold up for the two weeks. It’s rare to see a male player use the tactic many female players have used to reach the top. I’m surprised none of the tennis journalists have talked about the analogy.

Anastasija Sevastova said after a recent win that women’s tennis is better than men’s tennis at the moment because anyone can win at any time. I still call it weakness.

Petra Kvitova lost to Jelena Ostapenko today. Not the best thing for Petra going into Wimbledon. She’s got a former Czech player, František Čermák coaching her now after ending a long term relationship with her former coach. Petra still looks fit to play. It doesn’t seem that she has the endurance to play her style of tennis over the length of a three set match.

The above mentioned John Isner threw down 17 aces against Juan Martin del Potro during their match yesterday. At one point Delpo turned to the crowd and said “It’s so boring”. He is so right. It’s that style of play that caused me to stop watching tennis for awhile. Tennis is about the mental challenges one player gives to another. Ace after ace after ace is not, in my opinion, tennis. Thank you Juan Martin for expressing what some of us feel.

©SavannahsWorld 2016 All Rights Reserved