Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Long Time Coming

For the past three months, I've battled this blog on a daily basis. We've become bickering siblings; me wanting to play with others, Tennis Chatter wanting me all to herself.

I love the game of tennis. In many ways, it helped me along my path of adolescence, and has been an integral part of my developing writing career.

As I begin to make my final strides toward graduating from college, however, it's time for me to focus on things that have more of a direct impact on who I am. I've kept this blog going because of that love, but also because I feel a pressure to do things for the unknown future, for the potential job interview, for the chance at one-upping my peers.

I want to work for a lot of things in this life, and tennis is one of them. But right now I'm at such a crossroads - both personally and professionally - that I'm unsure of where tennis will come in, and what role it will play in my life.

I hate to add my blog to the thousands that have gone to the wayside in the recent past. I, however, feel as though I will return here sometime in the future to make some sort of change or perhaps to re-capture my love for this game in a whole new way.

Thank you to everyone who has read, commented, bashed or browsed in the last year; you're all much appreciated.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tennis Chatter

Well, this post has been a long time coming... as has the retirement of Monica Seles.

The delay of my post is many tiered: the retreat I work on for Campus Ministry happened this last weekend (it was a big success) while I had three midterms in the last eight days not to mention helping Conscious Choice (where I'm interning) getting ready to go to print for their March issue.

Seles' delay, however, has been something she relied on for much of her career - an intangible. She hoped for so long that her foot would heal and a comeback might spark something deep down inside of her tennis soul that sprung her tennis body into action. But no such luck would come upon Seles, who won nine grand slam titles.

She'll be sorely missed. But, tennis fans, Monica's foot might not be good enough for the pro tour, but she'll be gracing a competitive surface with her shoes anyway... her dancing shoes, that is.

Below, my favorite Monica match of the thousands: a thrilling victory over Venus Williams at the 2002 Australian Open. Pay attention to the clip around 6:45, where she and Venus are wrapped in a heavy exchange that ends up with Monica scrambling and Venus netting a forehand. At that point, the camera pans to the crowd where two women are up on their feet, pumping their fists, engulfed in Seles' emotion.

That moment shows what Monica meant to fans, and she'll surely be missed on the tour.

Meanwhile, Kei Nishikori spoiled an all-American final at Delray Beach last weekend by beating Sam Querrey in the semifinals. If that wasn't shocking enough, the 18-year-old Japanese player went on to triumph over James Blake in three sets in the finals.

What's up with these young guys making noise early in the year? Are they random flashes of brilliance... or are they a sign of more of what's to come?

In case you missed the action at Delray, Erwin over at Tennis Served Fresh has posted some really cool pictures of the awesome artwork done on center court.

Erwin's post got me thinking about how tennis can start branching out and being a more inclusive sport. Why not recruit more artists to do the backdrop on the walls, or designs on the court? Music has become a staple at the Australian Open, and perhaps other forms of art at tournaments can start becoming more of a common sight.

There's been quite a lot of chatter about Pete Sampras returning to the tennis tour. My gut feeling is that it wouldn't happen... but the way he played against Tommy Haas in their exhibition, he might as well. Right?

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I've been totes MIA lately (totally missing in action, if you were wondering).

Midterms have overtaken my life (one down, two to go) as has Search, the retreat that I help plan on campus. The retreat itself this weekend, which is both scary and exciting in one! We have lots to do, but I know it'll all get done.

If anyone's feeling a bit overwhelmed (other than me) it's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Aussie open runner-up crashed out of Marsielle in the first round, losing to wildcard Mario Ancic in straights.

That's no follow-up to his slam breakthrough. Hopefully I won't have such a dip from midterm number one to two and three...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where Are They Now: Style

Love this. has updated you on all the players you were wondering about on the men's side of the game.

Thursday they're running on women's special. Love, love, love it!

Now... I have a midterm to take :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tennis Chatter: End of the Weekend

It's always tough to watch the weekend wrap-up like it was never here. I even have three-day weekends this quarter, but the days still fly by like they weren't even there in the first place.

I haven't felt this removed from the tennis scene in a long while, but alas, tennis was still being played all around the world as Davis Cup completed round one and the women were at two separate sights for smaller tourneys.

I'm still a little baffled by the in-and-out (and out-and-in) performance of Novak Djokovic this weekend. He doesn't play Friday, but then appears Saturday on the doubles court and gets a two-set-to-one lead (including 3-0 in the third!) over Nicolay Davydenko only to pull out again? Aye dios mio! Make up your mind, Djoko! I just feel like he showed so much guts and guile in Melbourne... and then, this?

If you haven't discovered Nole's web site yet, it's a treat.

The Princess of Boring won at Paris this weekend, beating up-and-comer Agnes Szavay in the finals. I would've really loved to have seen Szavay win this one, but we certainly can continue to expect great things from the Austrian. I think she might be a top ten player by the end of the year, especially if she continues to learn from experiences like this one. (If you're wondering who the Queen of Boring is, click here. But really, did you not know?)

The American men made quick work of the Austrians and their horrific clay court this weekend. Andy Roddick, James Blake and the Bryan brothers beat Austria - bad bounces and all - in three matches. Roddick struggled the most, needing five sets to win the opening rubber against Jurgen Melzer.

On the Baseline news discusses the popularity of tennis and how it can be improved while Erwin over at TSF gives us a run-down of Davis Cup attire, including the Frenchmen, who the U.S. takes on in North Carolina in April.

The Caucus Process

I've been rather busy the last few days with all the different things that make up my life. Today was rather a big day here in the dreary state of Washington, as Washingtonians went to their caucuses to choose the state's delegates for the Democratic presidential race.

I was rather inspired to caucus today and participate in what many are calling one of the most pivotal elections of our time. What fun to see a woman and a man of color running head-to-head in such a historic race. So as I arrived at my polling place I expected to find rows of friendly caucus organizers lining the halls with stickers and clipboards and making check marks as they pointed people to their rooms and we all went on our marry-caucus way.

Instead, T.T. Minor elementary was snarled at the main entrance, where a crowd of people from all walks of life were fighting just to get out of the rain, much less participate in a presidential election. But the craziness at the doorway was just the beginning of what would turn out to be a rather disappointing afternoon of frustrated caucusers, unorganized (and far too many) caucus organizers and people who really wanted to get involved in their community - and their country - and make a difference but were at the wrong caucus location, couldn't find their precinct room, or were just plain fed up with the whole process itself.

Leaving the caucus, I felt rather discouraged. Sure, I had gone in, helped in any way I could, written down my general information and who I preferred for the race and then scooted away; all done. Processes - whether it's to elect a candidate, an official, or even just how to make a morning cup of coffee (which I do for a living) - are all different, and everyone feels as though their way is best, but that's not always the case. I think you can chalk the caucus process (in my opinion) up in the "bad process" column... there's just got to be a better way.

When I left the caucus, I rode the bus down to campus and got to thinking about how many issues swirl around this globe every day. Clinton, Obama and all the other candidates have had to speak to these issues day in and day out of the campaign, and eventually one of them will take office in hopes of making this world a better place.

That's something I want to achieve in my life: making the world a better place. I often wonder what role tennis has to do with that. I am passionate about the game of tennis, and about my writing and what impact they both have on society. Is tennis just a sport for the rich and powerful? Has professional tennis warped into a game of advertising moguls and diva millionaires?

In a lot of ways I think that yes, it has. But at the same time, I think the complete opposite. I look at the elite of the game and see many socially-aware players who do their part to be diplomats and agents of social change, but meanwhile take million-dollar contracts with corporations and play a wasteful and often times frivolous.

As I move toward college graduation I am starting to analyze the 'big picture' more often. Perhaps I should give up on my dream of sitting court-side at Wimbledon documenting the final and instead find a path of change and good that might do what these candidates are trying to do.

For now, I'll take solace in being a student... four more months of this dream world!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tongue Twisting in Thailand

I would hate be the TV broadcaster reading out the results from Pattaya City today. Just another example of how the game of tennis is globalizing and the surge of Eastern European and South Asian players is apparent here:

(1) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Vania King (USA) 75 76(5)
(2) Casey Dellacqua (AUS) d. (Q) Akiko Yonemura (JPN) 62 63
(4) Chan Yung-Jan (TPE) d. (Q) Zhou Yi-Miao (CHN) 64 62
(9) Tzipora Obziler (ISR) d. (WC) Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) 61 62
Anne Kremer (LUX) d. (Q) Xu Yi-Fan (CHN) 76(4) 61
Andreja Klepac (SLO) d. (WC) Urszula Radwanska (POL) 76(1) 62
(Q) Vesna Manasieva (RUS) d. (WC) Nudnida Luangnam (THA) 60 61
(LL) Sunitha Rao (IND) d. (LL) Junri Namigata (JPN) 61 64

Tennis Chatter: Between the Cups

It's Wednesday in Seattle, which means rain, wind and gray skies all come together for one day of inspiring weather! Needless to say winter is in full force here, but we're lucky not to be in the South, where I can't imagine the devastation the tornado victims are going through right now.

It's been a wacky week in the neighborhood that I live in: last week there was a shooting at a burger joint, then a woman threatening to kill herself on a church roof along with a wondering homeless lady who came into my cafe Monday morning pleading with me to call 911.

I guess living in the city never has it's dull moments, right?

The dull moment that engrossed the tennis world (aka last week) is over for now, as the women have battled it out in round one of Fed Cup and the men are getting set for their own ties this coming weekend.

My friend Erwin over at TSF has put together a little preview (with some visuals, of course) of what he is calling the "Center of his Universe:" the Russia versus Serbia tie.

While Russia-Serbia is promising plenty of good-looking guys and hopefully some good-looking tennis, there are plenty of enjoyable match-ups in the first round of the men's action.

If you missed this juicy story from last week's tie between Israel and Russia, I would check it out. Craig Hickman gives a great play-by-play of how Maria Sharapova pulled a Justine (via the '04 Aussie, not '03 French). It even includes a clip from JuJuBean's disgraceful moment! How spectacular!

For some reason, the YouTube clips have been pulled of the incidents in Israel. Speculations as to why... ?

And while the American men focus on taking care of the Austrians this weekend, Joel Drucker tells us what Andy Roddick needs to focus on in order to once again be a top 5 threat on the ATP Tour.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Road of Harkle

Is this the springboard Ashley Harkleroad needed to get back inside the top 40?

Harkleroad become the poster girl for the U.S. Fed Cup win over Germany this past weekend, taking the spotlight away from Lindsay Davenport's comeback and perhaps announcing that she may be ready to lead the next generation of American tennis players.

I think it's too soon to say, and if history is any indication, Harkleroad is a streaky player at best. She was a terror of good tennis in the spring of 2003 with wins over players like Daniela Hantuchova, Emelie Loit and Meghann Shaughnessy.

The last four collective seasons have been a struggle for the Georgian, who went 106-77 over four years. But the no. 74 player in the world has opened the year 7-3 and now bolstered that performance with an impressive steely-nerve weekend in Fed Cup.

Can she continue her upswing? Only time will tell us for that question.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Feeling Damp

Lindsay Davenport and the U.S. women's Federation Cup team are feeling a little damp after two days of their tie against Germany in which just two matches have been complete due to persistent rain.

This was to be the new mom's triumphant return to the Fed Cup circuit, but she faltered on Saturday against unheralded German Sabine Lisicki in the tie's opening match before Ashley Harkleroad was able to even things up with a straight set win of her own.

Play is scheduled to resume today, but whether or not Lindsay can resume the form she opened her comeback tour with last fall is unknown. Many times when a player returns, they experience a sort of honeymoon period when the ball looks bigger, the angles look easier and opponents shots feel slower.

But perhaps Davenport has floated out of this period and has come back to earth in a sense. She won three of the first four tournaments she played in since September, but played alarmingly bad in her opening match at the Australian Open against Sara Errani, winning 7-5 in the third.

Following that win, D-mama went on to be crushed by tournament champ Maria Sharapova in the second round, providing little resistance in a match that was built up to be a blockbuster.

So as many of us had guessed last summer when Davenport first announced her comeback, perhaps the American's tennis ship really has sailed. She has a chance today to prove me wrong, when she takes the court for both a singles and doubles rubber.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Joachim Johansson Retires

Joachim Johansson handed over the reigns of Most Misspelled ATP Name to Philipp Kohlschreiber this week as he officially retired at the tender age of 25.

Johansson had been struggling with shoulder injuries for the last couple of years and couldn't string more of a few weeks together on the tennis court.

Johansson is most famous for this match win over Andy Roddick at the 2004 US Open. Roddick was the no. 2 seed and defending champ. This was just at the beginning of the Rise of Roger, when Roddick was still considered one of the games elite five.

The next year at the Open, Roddick flopped again when he lost early and was heavily scrutinized by his sponsor American Express after they had built a massive ad campaign around him.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sharapova's Speech

If anyone missed Maria Sharapova's speech on Saturday after her Australian Open win, I thought I would post it here. If you thought Maria's play was the shining point of this tournament, you might want to look at this clip and see what she has to say. It's apparent that Sharapova is deeply impacted by Michael Joyce and has chosen to surround herself with an incredible camp of people that are not only grooming her to be a grand slam champion and global celebrity, but also a mature and well-balanced young woman.