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?

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