Sunday, June 21, 2009

London Calling

London called and I have arrived! I'm in SW 15 for the beginning of The Championships tomorrow and can hardly contain my excitement. Over the next four days, I'll be putting up lots of content in a variety of places; here's where you can find me:

| If you like your tennis served hot and fresh, check out my posts (and all the other steaming - and streaming - content on Erwin Ong's blog. This thing is jam packed with delicious tennis tidbits, mostly of the off-court vari-tay. Think fashion, fun and good looking men with a tennis twist.

The McColumn | My newly-created personal blog, I'll be doing a post each day about the ebbs and flows of my emotions as I experience my first-ever Grand Slam.

Straight Sets | In the very recent past (a month ago), the New York Times expanded its U.S. Open blog to an on-going, year-round forum. I'll be contributing a couple posts here as I can, adding to the pre-Wimbledon stuff I've already done for them.

And of course, right here. Check out the blog(s) all week for my posts and I'll do my best to get some pictures up, too! Wimby, here I come!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ireland, NYT and Boxing, Oh My!

Just a week before Wimbledon and I find myself on the correct side of the pond for the start of the game's greatest Grand Slam. I touched down yesterday morning in Dublin, and have joined my two brothers, dad, uncle and a cousin for 10 days of site-seeing, golf playing and Guinness drinking.

So far, so good in Ireland, as we managed to drive cross country in just about three hours and find a nice little bed and breakfast to catch up on our jet-lagged inspired sleep. We golfed this morning at Adare Manor, a charming course outside of Limerick. There was some Irish-inspired danger to a few of the holes, but for the most part, Adare was tame and the weather held out beautifully for us.

A few weeks ago I got in touch with the powers-that-be with the newly-created Straight Sets blog on the New York Times' web site. I told them that I would be at Wimbledon for the first four days of main draw play, and asked if they wanted an experienced tennis writer to contribute from the grounds. They obliged, and I've been doing some posts for them in lead up to The Championships.

The first was about French-to-Wimbledon trends, specifically on the women's side of the game. The second, published yesterday, was a celebration of Steffi Graf's 40th birthday (today) and an ode to a player that for most of my childhood I loathed (I was a Seles wannabe), but have come to love and appreciate in my adult years.

Meanwhile, back in my hometown, a boxer that I interviewed in December for a feature article just won one of the nation's most prestigious amateur boxing championships in Denver. Normally with this kind of stuff I would smile to myself and maybe shoot the guy an email, but Duran Caferro isn't your average athlete - or person for that matter.

Check out my post about him from January, and watch out for this guy to become a rather well-known lightweight boxer in the professional circuit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Game, Set, Twitter

I've held out over the last six months from joining Twitter, something plenty of my friends were bent on getting me to join.

Today, however, I finally broke down and got an account. I did so for various reasons, but one important one is so I can share my exciting experience at Wimbledon come later this month!

Follow me at :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Re-Emerging in Europa

For the past year, I've been pretty dormant in the tennis blogosphere. I've made brief appearances on this blog (via video) and others (see: "Billie Jean King Cup"), but my blogging energy has more been focused on the personal since starting The McColumn.

But in a couple weeks, I'll re-enter the tennis blogging world with a frenzy as I attend my first-ever Grand Slam event at The Championships, Wimbledon.

My love affair with tennis has been in full force since the age of five, but I've only had in-person flings with the professional sport on a few, varied occasions: the 2002 Bank of the West Classic and two Williams-sister-fueled exhibitions. Not the resume you were hoping for, right?

In any case, I'll no doubt be completely overwhelmed by the grounds of the All England Club itself, not to mention the high-level tennis that will be going on before my eyes.

Stay tuned here, The McColumn, TennisServedFresh and a few other, yet-to-be-announced locations for my live Wimbledon coverage. Until then, Federer in four for his fourteenth and first French; Safina in straights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Blogging the BJK

I'm headed outside in scary conditions to brave a night of (indoor) tennis at the Billie Jean King Cup at the Madison Square Garden.

I'll have a post up later this week about my experience there!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Breathing Elsewhere

Just in case you're wondering, I'm still alive. I'm working on a few new projects while I make it day-to-day as a barista in the Big Apple.

The first of those is my personal blog, which I launched just over a month ago and am calling The McColumn. I'm trying my best to take each post as a column that might appear in an actual newspaper (remember those?) while trudging through each day as freelancer, an individual, a young adult...

Secondarily, I've began working with Erwin Ong over at Tennis Served Fresh. I'll be doing posts for Erwin with some regularity, hopefully contributing a new angle to his already-well written blog.

My first assignment for Erwin is to head over to the Billie Jean King Cup at the Madison Square Garden this coming Monday. It's a huge exhibition event, with Venus, Serena, Ana and Jelena all in attendance. No doubt lots of tennis dignitaries will be in attendance too. Check out TSF all next week to see what I come up with!

And, as usual, I'm contributing at Green for Good with a column on being young and Green. Don't forget to check that out once in a while, too!

Hope all are well!

(I'm even finding some time to release my anger in healthy ways! Photo copyright Matthew Murphy.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Behind the Story

Christmas in Montana is always magical. There's the gathering of my family, the small-town charm, the home cooked meals. It all comes together and feels like magic - which I realize I'm lucky to have. Many people fear and dread the holidays like they're the plague.

Over the last two weeks, I've spent time in Montana driving through the snow, eating too much and writing. Usually my Christmas-time writing includes me writing furiously in my journal about the random frustrations I encounter when moving back home for a flash, but this time I had the opportunity to write freelance for the local paper, and it kept my pen (and my brain) busy in the frigid temperatures of the Rocky Mountains.

After writing for my hometown paper, the Independent Record this summer, I was asked to contribute a few articles while I was in Montana this winter. The first was a simple news story on a high school girls' basketball game, while the second two were features: one on the area ski team and the second on the "Male Athlete of the Year," a 20-year-old boxer named Duran Junior Caferro.

It's great for a young writer like me to get such experience. I was busy calling sources, conducting face-to-face and phone interviews, and digging for facts for my stories while putting together pieces that I was happy with. The experience and resume building are enough to make it worth it, and it's nice to put a little cash in the Survive NYC Fund.

Check out the story on the Great Divide Ski Team here:

And Junior Caferro here:

As 2009 begins, I'd like to dive back into the blogging world a bit. I'm excited about the possibilities the tennis season holds, but more than anything else, I'm excited about telling stories and finding new ways to share them. I hope to continue this blog and make it as interesting as possible, but I know myself well enough to realize that it may be touch and go for awhile, as a lot of things in life are.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Legs to Stand On

Growing up, I regularly attended high school basketball games. My four older siblings all played the winter sport, and it was a great distraction from the frighteningly cold winter weather in Montana. My sisters' teams were consistently bad - real bad. Year after year I would watch them have losing seasons, winning just a handful of games in each. I wondered what the problem was: the coaching? The players? The game plans?

As I got older and started to play basketball myself, I began to see that a good team took all of the aforementioned ingredients. You couldn't have a great team without good players, a knowledgeable coach and a solid game plan - it all had to come together at once. Great teams just didn't happen, they had to be carefully orchestrated. But above anything else, the talent had to be there. Talent is the legs that greatness stands on.

As the Tremendous Two has grown into the Ferocious Four, it's safe to say that the ATP has legs to stand on for the next few years - four pairs of sturdy, terribly talented legs.

(Photo by billybuck via flickr.)

Watching Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray (as they're ranked) each have their own, separate bursts of greatness this year has been nothing short of spectacular. These four men have captured my attention in a way like never before, and I've become interested in men's tennis on a genuine, true-fan level. I'm guessing that they - and I - will be sticking around for a while.

The frightening thing is that there are three more pairs of talented legs - Juan Martin del Potro, Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - that are threatening to turn the Ferocious Four into the Scintillating Seven. These are all gentlemen who have shown flashes of their own brilliance this season (throughout the calendar year), and a group that the tour can look to in week two of Grand Slams not as darkhorses or outsiders, but actually as legitimate heavy weights who just haven't had their breakthrough yet.

Last week, I wrote about how increasingly interesting the men's tour was becoming, and how the women's tour was lacking any true rivalries or distinction. The thing is, even if the women's tour was bursting with talent and attracting me with new and different stars, it would take nothing away from the legitimacy of what a great group of men sit atop the ATP rankings.

For tennis to be interesting on both sides is nearly impossible. Very often, in fact, it's difficult for even one tour to be compelling. But we are ending a year on the ATP that showed us what brilliance can do when it's pitted again other brilliance, and that bodes well for 2009, even if their is off-court drama.

You can ask for well-rounded, attractive champions, but it's not often that you get a group of truly talented, just-short-of-spectacular champions all at once. Now that's a talent any season can build on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Career Battle

Lately, I've felt like a Williams sister. No, I'm not taking New York by storm with incredible fashion, participating in photo shoots, starting my own design line, starring on TV and having paparazzi follow me all over the city (a boy can dream though, right?). Instead, I've been exploring my various interests in this new and different city, dipping my toes into a new cafe, playing volleyball, exploring the arts and getting lost on the subway.

So, as the season has come to an end and Venus captured her first-ever WTA Championships title, I haven't felt like blogging much. I'm wondering if I seek a career like the Williams sisters, where I blog now and then and save the good stuff for meaty, Grand Slam-like posts or that of Jelena Jankovic, where I'm blogging everyday, often times at a lower quality level, stretching my mind and imagination and failing to deliver when it matters most (like during the 5th biggest tournament of the year).

But like tennis, the nature of the blogging world is demanding. If you don't churn out consistent, good stuff, the critics will come calling - or, in this case - the readers will stop reading. It's a Catch 22 if there ever was one, and as much as I think I have good writing skills that can only get better, I'm no Venus or Serena.

In any case, as winter approaches and the tennis tour takes its short vacation, I see myself joining them for the most part. There are certainly a few topics I would like to write on over the next 6 weeks before 2009 begins, and I would like to resurrect the ever-popular video blogging.

I'll try to make that all happen soon, but for now I'm off to a photo shoot... oops, there I go thinking I'm a Williams sister again. Ah, the life!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Some of These Don't Belong

(WTA Tour photo screen grab.)

As the top women on the WTA Tour converge on Doha for the Season Ending Championships this week, there are a few things that still need to be worked on for some of the girls: their wardrobes.

Let's make this simple:
Jelena Jankovic: Let's bring back the 70s, baby!
Dinara Safina: Wait, this isn't the Wimbledon ball?
Serena Williams: As usual, I look waaaaaaaaay better than everyone else here.
Ana Ivanovic: I love that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry wears the Pirate shirt!
Elena Dementieva: Damn Ana and Serena, their black pants are shinier than mine!
Svetlana Kuznetsova: I'm ready for my first day of 9th grade!
Venus Williams: I save my fashion for the court, ladies.
Vera Zvonareva: I just used my hotel room curtains as an outfit, that's OK right?