ESPN

I live in the Caribbean (Jamaica to be exact). I get ESPNI, ESPN2 (the Latin version or some other version, have no clue) and TSN (a Canadian channel which really is the Canadian Americanized version of ESPN). Whatever. I do not have Tennis Channel. Anyway, last night I got ready to watch the first of 120 hours of tennis on ESPN. First of all I had to wait until the football game which had 5 minutes in the fourth quarter to finish. You should all know that 5 minutes in the fourth quarter of an American football match can last 30 minutes. Just saying. In the meantime I watched as many matches as I could on the livestreams that are to be found on the Internet.

Finally, at about 8:10 p.m. I finally saw tennis on my tv. Sharapova v. Kirilenko. The battle of the babes. Whatever. During the match when things were heating up and Sharapova was struggling to break Kirilenko in the 7th game, 4-2, ESPN took the opportunity to interview Sam Querrey. Yes, Sam Querrey who stood on a glass table and cut himself and who has never been a factor in a major, all of a sudden Sam Querrey gets to be interviewed on ESPN. Needless to say I muted the tv and went back to watching the livestreams.

During the whole broadcast it came back to me why I really do dislike some of the ESPN commentators. I have heard it said over and over again but I never believed it. Mary Carillo really and truly dislikes the Williams Sisters, and in particular, Serena. It galls her so much that players and fans have put the USO incident behind them and moved on. She is still so caught up with that thing that you can see it on her face whenever she talks about it. I have only one thing to say to Mary. LET IT GO. IT IS OVER. MOVE ON ALREADY.

While listening to the Eurosport commentators last night, a gentleman said that it would be bad for the tournament if Sharapova was ousted in the first round. Really. It would. I thought that 128 women came to play a tournament in order to win. I did not realise that players were supposed to kowtow to players because of who they are. Kudos to Kirilenko for coming out to play a match and try her very best to win it, and actually win the darned thing.

Another thing that really galled me last night was the ever growing discussion about Sharapova’s off court exploits. The money that Nike is paying her over 8 years (US$70M if you live in a cave and have not heard about it) as well as the fact that she now has her own collection that other Tour players will be wearing. In addition to all that she has her own production company, has a tv series in the works and basically is what is termed a one woman stimulus package. And everyone is happy with that.

Go back circa 2003 and Serena and Venus Williams who want to do a little acting, go to fashion school and do other stuff, including grieving for their murdered sister and all you could hear is this … if they paid more attention to their tennis they would be better off. How come they did not play any warm up tournaments. Do they really think that they still have that aura or that invincibility factor. They need to focus more on tennis.

Now we have someone who has not played a Tour event since October 2009. She only played the Hong Kong exhibition and apart from Pam Shriver (bless her) no one has spoken out about the fact that Sharapova has not participated in any Tour event and that she actually needed the match play. Poor Mary-Jo was left to stutter her way through excuses etc. Poor thing.

Vera Dushevina. I cannot believe that the girl that I saw this morning playing Dementieva is the same person that pushed Venus Williams to 3 sets in last season’s US Open first round. She also played credibly in her match against Serena at Sydney this year. Today, she could not even keep the ball in the court. Is there anything in the rules about tanking matches?

Anyway, I hope everyone has enjoyed what little of Day 1 that ESPN deigned to show us. Heres hoping that we will get to see more tennis and less tennis commentators in the coming 2 weeks.

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