Tennis Mailbag (cont.)
Do you know who came up with the line, "Federer plays the game we wish we could play; Rafa plays the game we should try to play"?
-- Mark S., Los Angeles
I don't know. But I like it.
I'm a little confused. Why do the players in doubles seem to hide their talks when they speak to each other after points? I see that maybe covering the mouths of the coaches in football, but doubles tennis?
-- Ray Danganan, Frederick, Md.
You never know when the thousands fans in the stands are stealing signs and conveying them to the opposition, a la Bobby Thompson and Ralph Branca. You're right that it's silly. Actually, these extended summits between points are silly regardless of whether players cover their mouths. You're either going to serve wide, into the body or up the T. The netman is either going to poach or not. Wouldn't simple hand signals suffice?
Can Novak Djokovic be the next Federer? In terms of everything: domination, brand ambassador, front face for the sport ...
-- Suresh, Mumbai
Easy there, Suresh. No disrespect to Djokovic, but he has a long way to go before the Federer comparisons, both in terms of on-court achievements and diplomatic carriage.
I attended the WTT match that featured Serena Williams of the Washington Kastles vs. the New York Sportimes. Serena played three matches and hardly uttered a grunt. What gives?
-- Eric Bukzin, Manorville, N.Y.
I think part of what enrages so many of you, including Martina Navratilova, is that the grunting appears to be situational. Some of the most vocal players are silent during practice. Players who split eardrums at 4-4 are much quieter in the first game of the set.
I'm planning to donate $1 to charity for every match Nikolay Davydenko wins this year. I have five singles in my wallet. Will I have to visit the ATM before this year is up?
-- Brett Davis, Los Angeles
You're already up to $14. You might need a cash advance. Nagging injuries play into this dismal record.
But at age 30, and with a correspondingly banged-up body, it's hard to imagine Davydenko's returning to the top 10. Hard to believe that in 2010 he beat both Federer and Nadal. But if you really want to see a losing streak, check this out ...
Has anyone noticed that Andrey Golubev in the midst of an epic losing streak? He has lost 17 consecutive matches since March. He is only four loses away from tying Vince Spadea's 21-match losing streak. To add insult to injury, his ranking just plummeted from 57 to 103 after being unable to defend in Hamburg. You have to feel sorry for the guy!
-- Eric, Philadelphia
Thanks, Eric. It's unclear that a round robin World Team Championships event should count. But that's great sleuthing. Check out this slide.
Sometimes in our quest to write a column that is both entertaining and unapologetically partial to tennis, we err on the side of casual. Last week's question-and-answer regarding Tennis Channel's dispute with Comcast could have (should have?) been more rigorous. First, just to clarify: It was the FCC Enforcement Bureau, not the ALJ, that weighed in. Also, in the interest of fairness and balance, here's a concise summation of Comcast's position, from a company statement last year:
"Our contract with Tennis Channel, which the network freely negotiated and signed in 2005, specifically permits us to carry Tennis Channel as part of our Sports Entertainment Package, where we -- like many other distributors -- currently offer it to our customers. Far from discriminating against Tennis Channel, we are fully honoring the terms of our agreement with Tennis Channel and plan to continue carrying the network for our customers and tennis fans."
I gather that the SportsBusiness Journal's Dan Kaplan has reported this as well, but I keep hearing that the ATP is focusing on internal candidates to replace executive chairman Adam Helfant. The two names I've heard are Brad Drewett (CEO, ATP International Group) and Mark Young (CEO, Americas).
From the USTA: Alexios Halebian of Glendale, Calif., and Luca Corinteli of Alexandria, Va., who live together at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., captured the boys' 18s and 16s singles titles, respectively, on Sunday at the 2011 USTA National Clay Court Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., won the girls' 18s singles title Sunday in Memphis, Tenn.
From the Tennis Hall of Fame: On Friday, Sept. 9, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will gather hundreds of tennis enthusiasts and industry leaders at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City for The Legends Ball, an annual social event that celebrates tennis and honors some of the sport's greatest champions and contributors. In addition to paying tribute to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2011 inductees -- Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer, who received the highest honor in the game on July 9 -- the event will salute two great contributors and longtime supporters of tennis, Dick Enberg and the Campbell Soup Company.
This week's anti-grunting rant: John Manthei of Potomac, Md.: "Please add me to the long list of folks who passionately love and watch tennis but have now tuned out of the women's game because of the shrieking. I tried turning the sound off, but stopped enjoying it. I can't take it. I happened to see Sharapova and [Gisela] Dulko play in the Bahamas earlier this year in an exhibition match -- Sharapova never once grunted. The WTA has to stop this -- it's killing the game."
Treece Goodwin of Takoma Park, Md. passes on this feel-good story.
Andrew of New York: "Check out this image, currently featured on the Roland Garros homepage. I've not seen anything like this before. Brings to mind the Agassi/Baghdatis scene in the [U.S.] Open."
From WTT: The Washington Kastles and St. Louis Aces swept the postseason honors for the 2011 World TeamTennis Pro League. The Kastles' Leander Paes and the Aces' Liezel Huber were the league MVPs. The Kastles' Arina Rodionova and the Aces' Jean-Julien Rojer were named top rookies, and Washington's Murphy Jensen was selected as top coach.
Tennis enthusiast and loyal Mailbag reader Stelio Savante is producing the play 110 Stories in New York after having produced it and brought it out to Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse last year. The cast included Ed Asner, John Hawkes and Katharine McPhee. Tickets are going on sale this Monday. Go here and click on the tickets option.
Ashish Malhotra of New York noticed: "By winning a challenger tournament in Sopot, Poland, last week, Eric Prodon of France just broke into the top 100 (as of July 18) for the first time at the age of 30, just slightly less than 13 years after he first appeared on the ATP computer. Does this make him the oldest person to enter the top 100 for the first time? Might he also hold the distinguished honor of spending the most weeks ranked on the ATP computer before cracking the top 100? A bit of research on the guy shows that he had a decent junior career in which he even once beat Federer. Obviously, the transition to the men's game wasn't as easy for him, but hats off to him for perseverance!"
Congrats to the USTA for this investment in the future. (Great program. As someone with kids of appropriate age, I have some experience here. Those balls are magic.)
Kevin Moss of Berkeley, Calif.: "As a quick follow-up to your Diego Rivera trivia question (that Helen Wills Moody served as his model): Readers don't have to travel across the pond to the Tate gallery to view his masterwork. Rivera created his first U.S. fresco on the wall of the grand stairwell of the former Pacific Stock Exchange Lunch Club building (now the City Club) in San Francisco. Wills Moody posed as Califia (the state's namesake) for this notable mural."
From the Tennis Hall of Fame: The 2010 Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Awards went to Ashok Narayana of Houston; Molly O'Koniewski of Hilton Head, S.C.; Jamie Pawid of Castro Valley, Calif.; and Samuel Shropshire of Philadelphia.
Long Lost Siblings: Shlomo Kreitman of Passaic, N.J.: "I just saw the trailer for the new Spiderman movie, and I never knew Andy Murray had a brother by the name of Andrew Garfield."
Have a good week, everyone!