General Buzz, Miscellany, Uncategorized

Tennis Glory

I was really moved reading this great article by David Waldstein on the struggles of life for tennis pros trying to make it in the lower tiers of professional tennis.

Thanks to Sharon Fichman (@Sharon_fichman) for retweeting it.

Knowing that such hardships and disparities exist in a sport known for its nobler and more luxurious and genteel traditions is heartbreaking. After reading that I wish every girl and boy with a dream of playing professional tennis could see their dream of making it to the top come true.

General Buzz, Miscellany, Uncategorized

“Lookback” – 2013 Port St. Lucie Tesoro Challenger Women’s Open

My photo montage of highlights from the 2013 USTA Pro Circuit tournament at Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Players featured: Alexis King, Gabriella Castaneda, Misa Eguchi, Kristy Frilling, Ulrikke Eikeri, Olivia Thaler, Ajla Tomljanovic, Maria-Fernanda Alvarez-Teran, Catalina Castano, Heidi El Tabakh, Jovana Jaksic, Viktoriya Tomova, Tadeja Majeric, Shuai Zhang

General Buzz, Miscellany, Tournament Match Reports, Uncategorized

Spring Breaking in Miami

There was a tennis tournament that started this week in Miami. Kind of a big one.

The 2017 edition of the Itau Miami Open kicked off on Monday, a day after Indian Wells wrapped up.

There may not be too many more Miami Opens. The facilities are clearly no longer sufficient to hold an event of this size and stature. Not without the major upgrades to infrastructure that are sorely needed–not just to the stadiums and seating, but the practice courts, and auxiliary and support areas like parking, dining and restroom facilities. Of course, considering the tournament is held in a public park, they don’t do a bad job of staging a world class event at Crandon Park, but I guess it’s time to admit facts–Indian Wells has obviously spent its way to the top of the pecking order behind only the US Open among American tennis tournaments.

As a central Floridian, I’m not entirely bummed about the prospect of the Miami event potentially migrating north to the sparking new National Campus in Orlando, Florida, but that’s a long way off yet. For one thing, there’s no large stadium at the National Campus–that will need to built. But there is room, and I suspect there is a plan.

So….I made my eleventh–shit, eleventh, really?–trip to Miami this year, and it was truly spur of the moment. You see, somewhere between last year and this year, I pretty much gave up on tennis. My favorite player–she all but retired this past year to a life of glitz, glamour, and celebrity in the tennis afterlife, and my resulting cataclysmic state has left me totally indifferent to what is happening in tennis. And that meant I totally resolved to just not give a %*&$#$# shit about the freaking Miami Open anymore.

But then I had a “feeling.” Since the moment I first saw my tennis crush, years ago, I’ve wanted to meet her. I’ve never taken that opportunity whenever I’ve had the chance. I always felt like I would never see her again since she stopped playing. But there was this big pre-tournament publicity “happening” in Miami with all of the big tennis stars, and I knew as a local tennis personality she was going to be a huge part of it, and I thought, if I didn’t go to the tournament this year I might regret it for the rest of my life. I mean, what if she was there, not just at the publicity event, but really there, in attendance, at the Miami Open, by chance? Those who believe in Destiny and Serendipity call stuff like that “Fatum”, I believe. So I made one of those Eleventh Hour odysseys you only see in the movies, thinking I might get a chance to meet the girl of my dreams. One of those stupid, crazy things you do once in a lifetime for that person who’ll never realize what they mean to you, and ultimately, will never care. Of course that didn’t matter–she meant the world to me.

I didn’t even have a hotel room booked until less than twelve hours before I hit the road at 3AM on Monday. In my haste I forgot things like my contact lens case and solution, and razor and sunscreen, stuff that had I thought about it, I probably would have realized were more like essentials than luxuries, but all I cared about was that I had a Sharpie and my favorite photo of her that I’d personally taken some five years ago. Priorities. I thought if she’d autograph it, it would be a personal treasure and happy memory of her I could cling to long after she forgot about me.

I don’t think she likes to be bothered by people like me though.

But my hopelessly pathetic crash-and-burn is another story.

Disconsolate, I tried to distract myself with the tennis, and kept busy watching matches and practices. On Monday, the first day of qualifying, I took in matches between Francoise Abanda and Nao Hibino, Magda Linette and Asia Muhammad, Sara Sorribes Tormo and Samantha Crawford, Elitsa Kostova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Madison Brengle and Sachia Vickery, Irina Falconi and Viktoriya Tomova, Maria Sakkari and Anastasia Potopova, Irina Khromacheva and Veronica Cepede Royg, Jana Fett and Julia Boserup, and practices with Garbine Muguruza and Dominica Cibulkova and Andrea Petkovic and Naomi Ozaka. Sakkari had a nice big crowd supporting her. I’m still not sure how good she is, but I came away pretty impressed by her grunt–definitely falls in the “war cry” category, right up there with the Erranis and Schiavones.

Monday photos.

Tuesday was even more hectic. The day started with practices featuring Venus Williams, Naomi Ozaka, Julia Goerges and Francesca Schiavone. Following that were matches between Francoise Abanda and Marina Erakovic, Madison Brengle and Sara Sorribes Tormo, Mandy Minella and Kristyna Pliskova, a practice with Taylor Townsend, matches between Lara Arruabarrena and Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Veronica Cepede Royg and Irina Falconi, Naomi Ozaka and Kristina Kucova, Viktorija Golubic and Tsvetana Pironkova, Sara Errani and Belinda Bencic, Kateryna Bondarenko and Paula Badosa Gibert, Peng Shuai and Danka Kovinic, and Beatriz Haddad Maia and Lesia Tsurenko. Didn’t see a lot of the match between Haddad Maia and Tsurenko, which ended in a retirement, as did the late afternoon match on court 1 between Peng and Kovinic, but I was surprised by the fact that Haddad Maia need a wildcard to be in the tournament. She seems to have a pretty big game, and a fair bit of potential. Maybe it was because Tsurenko was compromised by a thigh/quad injury, which resulted in retirement after a set, but the lefty’s game still looked pretty big to me.

I didn’t see as much on Wednesday–took in some of the matches between Jelena Jankovic and Yaroslava Shvedova, Lucie Safarova and Yanina Wickmayer, Louisa Chirico and Risa Ozaki, Alize Cornet and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Heather Watson and Patricia Maria Tig and Monica Puig and Sorana Cirstea. Saw a few of Louisa’s fellow WTA pros/friends in the crowd supporting her at her match.

Yes, there was tennis this week. I did see some of it. And I soaked in the nice weather, and the Miami vibes. And the Miami Open was business as usual. For now.

General Buzz, Miscellany, Tournament Match Reports

The Art of Don Quixote-ing

This was dumb.

There are stupid ideas, and then, there are the ones you will remember when you are eighty-five. When you can’t remember whether you tied your shoes, or what color your car is, or who passed you the salt, you’ll remember the crazy dumbass things you did in the name of love.

For That Girl. The special one. The one you will never ever be able to forget.

I came here to Miami on that mythical wing and prayer on a hopeless eleventh hour quest to meet the girl of my dreams. I was stupid enough to think that I might actually find her here. It is one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, after all and she is, well, you know…

Oh, she was in town alright. Looking amazing. Like an angel. Basking in celebrity and collecting the phone numbers of eager admirers lining up to date her, I imagine. I guess I should have known. Expected that. She must attract that kind of attention from suitors whenever she walks into a room. Important people. Glamourous people. The people she must surely be interested in spending her time with. She’s special in that way, destined for greatness. She’s that kind of Girl.

It hurts to realize I’m just not that kind of guy.

Coming here was dumb. Heartbreaking.

I never thought that getting over a dream could be so tough.

General Buzz, Miscellany

Where Does Garbiñe Go From Here?

Newly minted French Open Champion. Conqueror of World Number One Serena Williams. And Self-Proclaimer that Clay is Her Territory.

Even Four years ago, it was easy to see that Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza, born in Venezuela, was going to be a superstar.

Now that the floodgates are open, and the potential has begun to be realized, the question becomes, just how good can this player be? Can she reach the elite level?

The evidence suggests the answer is “yes.” Since hooking up with coach Sam Sumyk, who coached Viktoria Azarenka to the number 1 ranking and two Australian Open titles, and even managed to get Eugenie Bouchard to a slam final, Muguruza has become far more consistent, has developed a bigger and more reliable serve, has refined her beautifully powerful forehand and backhand even further, has vastly improved her mental toughness, and has finally fulfilled the enormous potential by winning her first grand slam title, by straight sets win over Serena Williams no less. And while she may feel most “comfortable” on clay, logic says faster surfaces such as hardcourts and grass may potentially yield her best chances for winning majors–and yes, she does already have a Wimbledon final under her belt.

And the good news for Garbiñe is, there’s really no one in sight, save Serena, who ought to trouble her big game.

So for fans of Garbiñe, enjoy the ride. The next several years should see her come into her own as the WTA Tour’s next reigning Queen.

General Buzz, Miscellany, Tournament Match Reports

Williams, Muguruza to Clash in French Open Final

World No. 1 Serena Williams tries again to match Steffi Graf’s tally of 22 grand slam titles on Saturday in Paris, when she will take on 4th ranked Garbine Muguruza for the second time in a slam final in less than a year, the first matchup coming in the 2015 Wimbledon final, won by Williams, 6-4, 6-4. In 2014, the pair met early on the Terre battue at Roland Garros, with Muguruza handing Williams her worst ever loss in a grand slam, 6-2, 6-2.

So far, in 2016 French Open, Muguruza has been in slightly better form but both players have arguably benefitted from a number of upsets plaguing the high seeds in their respective halves of the draw. Muguruza did defeat former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetzova (2009) and finalist Samantha Stosur (2010) en route to the final. Williams dispatched upstart Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the semis after winning matches against Kristina Mladenovic, Elina Svitolina and Yulia Putintseva on her way to the title match.

So who and what will it be? A record-tying Number 22 for Williams, or a first slam title for Muguruza?

General Buzz, Miscellany

2016 Miami Open Entry List Released

2016 Miami Open WTA Acceptance List

1 (1) WILLIAMS, SERENA USA 9245 16 1300 30
2 (2) KERBER, ANGELIQUE GER 5700 25 2000 305 180
3 (3) HALEP, SIMONA ROU 5545 18 10 105 100
4 (4) RADWANSKA, AGNIESZKA POL 5210 24 780 110 110
5 (5) MUGURUZA, GARBIÑE ESP 4991 20 130 1 1
6 (6) SHARAPOVA, MARIA RUS 3672 16 430 1
8 (7) SUÁREZ NAVARRO, CARLA ESP 3595 25 430 100 100
9 (9) KVITOVA, PETRA CZE 3582 18 70 1 1
10 (10) SAFAROVA, LUCIE CZE 3580 21 55 1
11 (11) BENCIC, BELINDA SUI 3260 25 240 60 55
12 (12) WILLIAMS, VENUS USA 3091 18 10 1 1
13 (13) PLISKOVA, KAROLINA CZE 3090 25 130 110 105
14 (14) AZARENKA, VICTORIA BLR 2935 15 430
15 (15) BACSINSZKY, TIMEA SUI 2894 18 70 1 1
16 (16) VINCI, ROBERTA ITA 2885 25 130 30 3
17 (17) KUZNETSOVA, SVETLANA RUS 2535 20 70 30 30
18 (18 ) WOZNIACKI, CAROLINE DEN 2511 23 10 110 100
19 (19) JANKOVIC, JELENA SRB 2505 26 70 60 60
20 (20) IVANOVIC, ANA SRB 2461 20 130 1 1
21 (21) SVITOLINA, ELINA UKR 2405 25 70 60 55
22 (12) ERRANI, SARA ITA 2405 26 10 100 100
23 (23) PETKOVIC, ANDREA GER 2230 24 10 80 55
24 (24) KEYS, MADISON USA 2060 17 240 55 1
25 (25) STEPHENS, SLOANE USA 1965 20 10 30 1
26 (26) PAVLYUCHENKOVA, ANASTASIA RUS 1880 23 10 60 60
27 (27) STOSUR, SAMANTHA AUS 1875 24 10 55 30
28 (28 ) KONTA, JOHANNA GBR 1869 21 780 13 9
29 (29) SCHMIEDLOVA, ANNA KAROLINA SVK 1815 25 10 110 55
30 (30) MLADENOVIC, KRISTINA FRA 1785 27 130 60 55
31 (31) MAKAROVA, EKATERINA RUS 1760 18 240 55 1
32 (32) LISICKI, SABINE GER 1682 19 70 1 1
33 (33) GAVRILOVA, DARIA AUS 1505 23 240 80 55 25
34 (34) BEGU, IRINA-CAMELIA ROU 1400 22 10 55 55
35 (35) TSURENKO, LESIA UKR 1398 20 10 1 1
36 (36) CORNET, ALIZÉ FRA 1370 27 70 55 30
37 (37) NICULESCU, MONICA ROU 1305 26 70 30 30
38 (38 ) GARCIA, CAROLINE FRA 1300 25 10 60 60
39 (39) BECK, ANNIKA GER 1206 30 240 13 2
40 (40) GIORGI, CAMILA ITA 1205 23 10 30 30
41 (41) STRYCOVA, BARBORA CZE 1185 26 240 55 55
42 (43) VAN UYTVANCK, ALISON BEL 1166 24 10 18 13
43 (42) GASPARYAN, MARGARITA RUS 1181 21 240 50 18 18
44 (44) PEREIRA, TELIANA BRA 1122 22 10 13 5
45 (45) BARTHEL, MONA GER 1105 29 10 55 30
46 (46) VANDEWEGHE, COCO USA 1068 22 10 1 1
47 (47) PUIG, MONICA PUR 1050 27 130 30 30
48 (48 ) LARSSON, JOHANNA SWE 1043 24 70 30 30
49 (49) LEPCHENKO, VARVARA USA 1040 23 130 1 1
50 (50) KOVINIC, DANKA MNE 1038 27 70 15 9
51 (51) BABOS, TIMEA HUN 1003 31 70 20 13
52 (52) FRIEDSAM, ANNA-LENA GER 1000 26 240 13 8
53 (53) GOERGES, JULIA GER 990 22 70 30 20
54 (54) DULGHERU, ALEXANDRA ROU 986 23 70 20 13
55 (55) WICKMAYER, YANINA BEL 984 25 10 13 1
56 (56) HIBINO, NAO JPN 962 31 10 6 18 18
57 (57) BRENGLE, MADISON USA 960 27 130 55 48
58 (58 ) BOUCHARD, EUGENIE CAN 942 20 70 1 1
59 (59) ALLERTOVA, DENISA CZE 937 20 130 13 2
60 (60) KNAPP, KARIN ITA 933 20 1 1
61 (62) DOI, MISAKI JPN 912 26 10 2 1
62 (63) MCHALE, CHRISTINA USA 910 25 90 30 30
63 (61) KASATKINA, DARIA RUS 915 20 130 18 5 1
64 (64) PUTINTSEVA, YULIA KAZ 893 31 130 20 18
65 (65) ZHANG, SHUAI CHN 883 27 470 13 10
66 (66) CIBULKOVA, DOMINIKA SVK 881 20 10 55 55
67 (67) LUCIC-BARONI, MIRJANA CRO 860 27 10 30 25
68 (69) DIYAS, ZARINA KAZ 845 27 10 30 1
69 (70) FLIPKENS, KIRSTEN BEL 833 23 70 13 13
70 (71) ZHENG, SAISAI CHN 820 27 70 30 18
71 (72) HRADECKA, LUCIE CZE 819 24 10 18 10
72 (73) BONDARENKO, KATERYNA UKR 818 28 130 25 20
73 (74) GOVORTSOVA, OLGA BLR 815 20 10 2 1