Dear WTA Players

by Karen

Dear WTA Players.

What an absolutely wonderful event you staged at Roland Garros over the past two weeks.  You ladies kept me glued to my computer screen and you actually made me late for work a few mornings.  On many occassions while I was at work, I was unable to watch matches, and so, for the first time in a long while, I actually had to go home and watch matches that had already been concluded during the course of the day’s event.

Your tournament was so good that I actually had to subscribe to additional channels because I just did not want to miss one ball during this 2 week event.  And I don’t even like clay season all that much.

However, and this where I am a little bit annoyed at you ladies.  I know your champion is an outlier.  I know that she is not very popular amongst her peers (hello, Judy Murray cheered on Naomi Broady when she went after her). I know she has a temper, but come on, did no one watch the final?  Did none of you get up out of your beds, no matter where you were in the world, and watch the match?  OK, so maybe it isn’t about Ostapenko.  Maybe it is about Halep, her opponent?  Maybe you were disgusted at Halep’s comments about equal pay?  If so, I can understand.  There were 2 of your colleagues playing that you don’t really like and so, you never even bothered to tune in … but … and here is where there is a big but … you ladies don’t even seem to do the same thing for Serena Williams either.

What is about the WTA athletes where congratulating an athlete on an accomplishment seems to go against some competitiveness etc. I know you ladies congratulate people and I know you ladies watch tennis matches.  The proof was the next day when you were all out in your numbers congratulating Rafael Nadal on winning 10 Roland Garros titles. See, this is where I sometimes don’t get the thought process behind who you ladies choose to watch and for whom you choose to show your support.

I have read interviews where some of you say that you don’t watch women’s tennis.  Where you say that you can’t think of having a female coach.  Where you think having a coach coming down court side to provide guidance is a good thing.  I get the mind set, but again, how does that benefit your sport?  There are men on the ATP who don’t agree that women should get paid the same as the men.  I can’t imagine why you would care to support someone whose thought processes are still stuck in the dark ages.  I don’t get it.  Help me out here.

Anyway, your Roland Garros champion is a joy.  She is young, athletic, disarming and very engaging.  Hopefully, you ladies can see fit to show her some love via social media (even if she isn’t on Twitter).

Thoughts

  • how great was it to see Jelena Ostapenko introduce herself to the tennis world.  54 winners, most of them from that huge forehand (and don’t forget her backhand) in the final and 289 winners overall.  She showed more than anything what belief really is.  Congratulations Jelena.
  • Simona Halep needs to rethink her life and her life choices.  Get rid of Darren Cahill.  He is a terrible coach.  There is nothing wrong with you getting emotional.  If it helps you in your every day life, I say go for it.  If smashing a racquet and cursing in Romanian get you through a match, then do it.  You are not a child and your coach is not your parent.
  • Caroline Wozniacki, please take a leaf out of Ostapenko’s book and ditch your dad as a coach.  You are back in the top 10 but you have done so by playing careful tennis. If you want to win that Major, you are going to have to change your mind set when it comes to your game and just go for it.  You did it earlier in the year but you have regressed.  Sort it out.
  • Angelique Kerber  (no words)
  • Elina Svitolina – not my pick to win but you don’t have match points, lose a tight tiebreak and then disappear in the third set.  Not for a place in the French Open.  You don’t do that.

I am sure that many have already put forward their thoughts on Ostapenko being coached by a woman.  What I loved about this is the story behind it.  Ostapenko is/was coached by her mother, also named Jelena.  The team decided that it might be a good thing to get another voice to work with the younger Jelena during the clay season.  The older Jelena took a backseat and allowed the coach that had been employed to work her magic.  The fact that the coach in question, Anabel Medina had no prior coaching history (at least none of which I am aware), and was only available because she has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, is a testament to both Jelenas having the wisdom to actually know their limitations and putting a plan in place to ensure that they brought in someone wiser and smarter than they were (Wozniacki, please take note of this).

All in all I enjoyed this year’s French Open.  My faves never got near the title but I am quite ecstatic at this new generation.  They are hitting fearlessly and cleanly and I for one am loving it.

 

French Open Day Results and Day 2 Picks and Pans

Day 1 Results (Spin’s Results are in Blue).  Of the 16 first round matches played today, Spin had a 68.75% accuracy rate.  Good going for the first day of play.

Serena Williams [1] v Anna Tatishvili
Caroline Garcia [WC] v Yuliya Beygelzimer [Q]
Sorana Cirstea[26] v Kiki Bertens
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [19] v Andrea Hlavackova
Petra Cetkovska v Olga Puchkova
Galina Voskoboeva [Q] v Grace Min [Q]
Mallory Burdette v Donna Vekic
Mandy Minella v Dinah Pfizenmaier [Q]
Venus Williams [30] v Urszula Radwanska
Virginie Razzano [WC] v Claire Feuerstein [WC]
Ana Ivanovic [14] v Petra Martic
Nadia Petrova [11] v Monica Puig
Irena Pavlovic [WC] v Shelby Rogers
Sabine Lisicki [32] v Sofia Arvidsson
Ayumi Morita v Yulia Putintseva
Sara Errani [5] v Arantxa Rus


Day 2 Picks and Pans are below.  Spin’s Picks are in red. 
Na Li [6] vs Anabel Medina Garrigues – tough one but Li should pull through in straights
Su-Wei Hsieh vs Maria Sharapova [2] 
Agnieszka Radwanska [4] vs Shahar Peer – how is the shoulder feeling Aga?
Caroline Wozniacki[10] vs Laura Robson – big match but Woz should pull through
Stephanie Foretz-Gacon vs Roberta Vinci [15] – 2 veterans but Vinci is playing great tennis
Flavia Pennetta vs Kirsten Flipkens [21] – Flavia, if only because Flipper does not do clay very well
Chanelle Scheepers vs Mathilde Johansson – home crowd advantage 
Mona Barthel vs Angelique Kerber [8] – battle of the Germans. Mona has been MIA but is Kerber  healthy?
Julia Goerges [24] vs Zuzana Kucova – how is Julia’s wrist? If healthy should be fine
Melinda Czink vs Francesca Schiavone – veteran battle, but Fran with memories should pull through
Simona Halep vs Carla Suarez Navarro [20] – this was a tough one as both ladies are playing really well
Varvara Lepchenko[29] vs Mirjana Lucic-Baroni – when Lucic is on she is devastating. this will be a battle
Eugenie Bouchard vs Tsvetana Pironkova – Bouchard has been playing great tennis recently. Should be a good one
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs Bojana Jovanovski – this will be a battle to the death or an easy victory for the Serb
Jie Zheng vs Vesna Dolonc – Zheng has been having good results on the clay
Tatjana Maria vs Paula Ormachaea – have not seen the young Argentine since the USO qualies last year.  Should be a good battle
Madison Keys vs Misaki Doi – Keys in straights
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Ekaterina Makarova – this was a tough one as Sveta should have great memories of her victory here 
Pauline Parmentier vs Magdalena Rybarikova – again, another tough one but the French woman will prevail
Karin Knapp vs Sloane Stephens [17] – has Sloane got her head sorted out? We will see
Jana Cepelova vs Christina McHale – Same for McHale?  is she healthy?
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor vs Julia Glushko – the young Spaniard impressed recently in Madrid, losing a tough 3 setter.  Look for her to play lights out here in Paris
Karolina Pliskova vs Garbine Muguruza – the young Spaniard has impressed everyone with her fight on hard courts. She was beaten handily by Sharapova in Rome recently.  Remains to be seen how she does against an opponent who does not have the weapons of Sharapova
Monica Niculescu vs Johanna Larsson – the wily Romanian will outfox the defender
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Lourdes Dominguez Lino – this is a toss up as BMS has been playing great on clay, however, Lino will frustrate but BMS should be able to come through
Vania King vs Alexandra Cadantu – Vania came through qualifying and is match tough but I just don’t see her getting past Cadantu
Romina Oprandi vs Elina Svitolina – the wily veteran lost a tough 3 setter in Brussels. Look for her to make amends here
Tamira Paszek [28] vs Melanie Oudin – I am shocked that Tamira is ranked that high enough to be actually seeded. I think Oudin takes her out in straights. 

The Match that Broke my Heart on Day 1 

She served to take a 5-4 lead in the first set and got broken. She was 0-4 down in the second set tiebreak after serving for the second set on 2 occassions and having set points.  She was 5-1 down in the third set and stared defeat in the face. She eventually lost the match 5-4 in the third against Ula Radwanska, but today Venus Ebony Starr Williams showed us that when healthy, or even something remotely resembling healthy, it will take a special player to bring her down, and bring her down without a fight. 

Those of us who watched the match from beginning to end stood and applauded the shots from both ladies.  While I am still upset that she lost, I can only bow down to the younger Radwanska as she never gave up and she continued to fight. 

For her part, the veteran holder of 7 Grand Slam singles titles, too many other singles titles to mention, Olympian extraordinaire and fighter of life and tennis in general showed us why the women deserve to be paid equally with the men.  For over 3 hours she showed why she is a threat despite not being at her best. 

Venus, this fan salutes you.  My only hope is that you continue to play until I get to see you on the green lawns of Wimbledon. You did well. 



TENNIS BROKEN RECORDS

Pete Sampras – 14 Grand Slam titles.  Most of all time. Broken
Roger Federer – 21 straight Grand Slam semifinals.  Most in the Open Era.  Broken
Serena Williams – 46 straight Grand Slam victories in the first round of Majors.  Broken
The third item in this list is one of the most significant and underrated achievements in all of tennis. Much like the story of Serena Williams.  At times glorified, but most of the time vilified by tennis pundits (who wish they could be her). By tennis fans (because of what she has done to their faves) and general disliked because of the colour of her skin, Serena Williams has made her mark in the world of tennis, so much so that today when she lost her opening round match on Court Philip Chartier, it was Breaking News by every major news network in the world.  That is the power of Serena Williams.
I watched this match from beginning to end with points in between when I turned it off as I, like most fans of  Serena Williams, became disconsolate at her performance during this match. Looking back you could tell that something was not right with Serena. 
If you are a fan of this woman you know her history.  You know what she brings to the court of tennis. You know her aura and you know her game.  Every player in the locker room knows it as well. If you want to beat Serena, you don’t listen to the pundits. You don’t listen to the coaches.  You don’t listen to the noise. You listen to yourself.  You close your eyes and you swing for the fences, and you pray to whatever deity that you believe in that Serena is off her game by just a notch, and you will hear your name echoed for all the ages.
The French Open has not been a pleasant stomping ground for Serena.  She won this title in 2002 on her way to the Serena Slam (holding all 4 Majors though not in a calendar year).  Since that victory, she has only made it to the semifinals one time since then where she lost to Justine Henin in a hard fought match, where it was revealed by Henin that yes she did cheat to win that match.
Serena lost that match to a chorus of boos and jeers from the French crowd, and if there is ever any doubt that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a disease or not evident amongst professional tennis player, one need only look at Serena’s career at Roland Garros.
If she wins, it is greeted with a smattering of applause.  If she loses it is met with resounding cheers.
Today, 29 May 2012, in her first round match, Serena, for the first time in her career lost in the first round of a Major.  She lost to Virginie Razzano, a French player ranked 111 in the world and who has herself seen tragedy, having lost her fiancée/coach last year to cancer.
After the match, Serena walked across the net and shook her opponent’s hand. I will not recap the match here as I am sure that everyone in tennis land has seen it, but suffice it to say that Serena could have played a lot better and Virginie could not have played any better than she did.
Is this the end for Serena? I doubt it. She showed an amazing sense of calmness in her post-match press conference.  She did not seem too perturbed by it. It was a bit as if she was almost too accepting of her loss.
Since her return to competitive tennis after her life threatening illness, Serena has seemed a bit complacent in relation to the Majors.  She has taken some hard losses since her return, but what has been lost in the equation is the way how her opponents have played.  The media would like us to think that Serena has lost her aura.  I say that the media needs to stop and take stock of the way in which Serena has lost.  Players have had to bring their A+ games in order to dethrone Serena.
Today, Serena fought and she fought hard.  She was not on her game, but that does not take away the fact that Razzano, with the French crowd solidly behind her did what 46 other women before her could not do.  She defeated Serena Williams in the first round of a Major for the first time in her stellar career.  Does this mean that Serena Williams is done.  No. All it means is that Wimbledon is a few weeks away and by that time Serena’s game should have caught the flight from Florida and made its way to  Europe.
OTHER STUFF
Today, Maria Sharapova had a practice session on Suzanne Lenglen. Alexandra Cadantu needs to join the Futures circuit.  She has no business playing on the WTA Tour. Fans joked on twitter that Cadantu told Sharapova thank you at the net.  Some joked that they were sure that Sharapova passed her $20.00 for the practice session.  I wonder if fans asked for their money back.  They probably should.
Tennis writers really need to chill out a bit.  It is only tennis.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame needs to continue its investigation of Bob Hewitt, and preferably remove him from the Hall of Fame pending its investigation.  If you agree, sign this Petition and make the suffering that these women endured at the hands of a man who “carried a tin of Vaseline” with him whenever he went on coaching sessions with young girls go away. 
Venus Williams is a Legend.  There is no denying that.  She is the epitomy of what a champion of this sport is.  As someone who also suffers with an anti-immune disease I can relate to what Venus is currently enduring.  Stay strong my champ.
I personally find Mary Carillo and Martina Navratilova to be 2 of the most negative and least influential in the sport of tennis, with Pam Shriver running a close third.  Neither Carillo or Navratilova have contributed to the development of women’s tennis in the way that Billie Jean King has done.  Their negative views on the state of women’s tennis leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The constant chattering about the shrieking/grunting etc of professional female athletes, leaves me to think that they have nothing else to talk about, or they just want to be one of the boys.   Say something positive about women’s tennis or shut up.
Venus plays her second round match tomorrow against Radwanska.  That is the only match that I am interested in.  Go Venus!!!