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The 1999 Baggie Awards

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Posted: Tuesday December 14, 1999 11:49 AM

  Jon Wertheim

This is it, the last edition of the 'Bag for 1999. Tune in the week before the Australian Open for the debut of Mailbag 2000, and then look for daily reports from the first major of the next century.

Yes, the wait is over, your breath need not be baited any longer. It's the second annual Baggie Awards, commemorating the best, worst and weirdest of tennis in 1999.

First, pardon this brief and uncharacteristic lapse into sappiness, but a heartfelt thanks to all of you who frequent this address and submit questions. I've written this before, but the success of the Mailbag is far more dependent on your participation than mine. And for what it's worth, if you guys have half as much fun reading this page as I have writing it, well, we're doing pretty well . Happy holidays, peace, love, nice match, etc. ...

O.K., got that out of my system. Now back to our regularly scheduled cynicism ...

MVP (men)
Andre Agassi. Yes, Pete Sampras is the better player head-to-head. But the erstwhile Mr. Image is Everything, showed uncommon durability in this injury-ravaged year and made the finals of three Slams. On top of that, he found a new love.

MVP (women)
Martina Hingis. For the second year in a row, the women offered four different Grand Slam singles winners -- testament to the depth on the WTA Tour -- so this was a close one. Still, we'll drink to the cunning Hingis, who is the only three-time Slam finalist in the mix and who, despite a summer meltdown, recovered to finish another year at No. 1.

Most Improved (men)
Nicolas Lapentti. Ecuadorian gunslinger started the year ranked No. 93, finished at No. 8. 'Nuff said.

Most Improved (women)
Serena Williams. Not exactly an unknown commodity to begin with, she nevertheless made immense strides from 1998. Scarier still, the surface has yet to be scratched.

Newcomer of the Year (men)
Lleyton Hewitt. Altitudinous Aussie teenager finishes the year within spitting distance of the top 20 -- and anchored a winning Davis Cup squad to boot.

Newcomer of the Year (women)
Kim Clijsters. With apologies to Alexandra Stevenson and Jelena Dokic, the nod here goes to the powerful 16-year-old Belgian who served for the match against Serena Williams in the U.S. Open, and won her first event a few weeks thereafter.

Biggest Disappointment (men)
Alex Corretja. Due for a breakthrough year, the affable Spaniard was beset by injuries and finished at No. 26, a drop of 23 places since the opening of the year.

Biggest Disappointment (women)
Patty Schnyder. Having finished 1998 on the cusp of stardom, the Other Swiss Miss shacked up with a self-described "guru" and never regained her mojo.

Comeback Player of the Year (men)
Chris Woodruff. After blowing out his knee kicking field goals, Tennessean started year at a woeful No. 1,342. With nary a point to defend, he finished 1999 at No. 51.

Comeback Player of the Year (women)
Jennifer Capriati:. Having danced with the devil and, in her words, "visited the dark side," she's back in the top 25.

Quote of the Year
Jelena Dokic, after her father, Damir, was removed from a Wimbledon tuneup for alcohol-induced disorderly conduct (and subsequently lay down in the middle of traffic): "I definitely think the English are a bit fussy."

Say What? Award
Richard Williams on the pressures of being a tennis father: "I think I could really capitalize off Venus and Serena if I had more time. But I really do not because I do a lot of work for the Chinese peoples and the Japanese peoples and so on, representing them. As a matter of fact, we thinking now about buying Rockefeller Center for $39 billion so I don't have time to think about tennis no more."

Faustian Bargain Award
USTA president Judith Levering handing the Davis Cup reigns to John McEnroe.

Dreaded Glitch Award
The court surface Russia imported for a Davis Cup tie contained an unacceptable quotient of radioactive material.

Meow Award
Lindsay Davenport. Normally charismatic and politic, defending Wimbledon champ demeaned herself when she bagged on attending Steffi Graf's retirement ceremony.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Bye
Steffi Graf, Jana Novotna, Mal Washington, Larissa Neiland, Arnaud Boetsch.

Good Riddance
The befuddling best-of-14 ranking system; Rainer Harnecker.

Worst Moment of the Year involving a mid-match netpost trespass
Amid a chorus of hoots and boos, Martina Hingis crosses over to Steffi Graf's side of the net to inspect a line call in French Open final.

Best Moment of the Year involving a mid-match netpost trespass
Gustavo Kuerten crosses over to Cedric Pioline's side of the net to congratulate his opponent on an unbelievable winner.

Jon Wertheim's Tennis Mailbag will return before the Australian Open.

Related information
1999 Tennis Mailbag Archive
Jon Wertheim's Tennis Hot List
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