As we go through an extremely long rain delay, and as it is Monday here in Cayman and I have become quite bored with the humdrum of the law office with which I work, I thought I would jot down some thoughts that have been going through my head recently. They are in no particular order and are in no way connected.
1. Legacies and Inspirations – I read Jon Wertheim’s Mailbag where he spoke about legacies and inspirations and I agree with his take on this 100%. Venus and Serena are not about leaving a legacy for just African Americans, or indeed players of the same ethnicity, they are about inspiring everyone. Recently, I read where Nadia Petrova, no lover of the Williams Sisters indicated that seeing Serena be so successful at this age and stage in her career has inspired her to continue fighting. Many young players say in interviews how much they love watching Serena play and those who play World Team Tennis look to Venus and her fight against inequality and look at the strength that she portrays in playing against the odds while fighting a debilitating disease like Sjorgen’s Syndrome.
2. Tennis Narratives – Commentators really need to change the narratives that they continue to force on viewers. If tennis ever wants to grow in the United States, those that sit in the booth really need to take a closer look at the narratives that they continue to dish out to viewers, most of whom are knowledgeable tennis fans. People like the McEnroe brothers really need to find a way to let those who are channel surfing stick to the tennis on tv rather than droning on and on about “when me was a boy”. If you are from Jamaica, you will get that particular reference.
3. Tennis Channel – Either Tennis Channel wishes to be taken seriously or it does not. There is absolutely no way that whomever is manning the Twitter site for this company did not feel the brunt of displeasure from tennis fans when Smyczek’s match which was going down to the wire was completely ignored until he was losing so that we could see Djokovic putting the screws on poor Sousa. It got even worse (if that is even possible), but once the Smyczek match was finished, there were 2 women’s matches which were going on, one featured a contender for the title, Na Li, and the other featured the No. 4 ranked player in the world. It was not as if it was some unknown players out there. Tennis Channel decided that it would be a good idea to have Djokovic, Courier & Tracy Austin all smothered together on one couch, while Ted Robinson looking quite uncomfortable in another couch, interviewed Djokovic. It was must see tv. Meanwhile Li was playing absolutely brilliant tennis. After the Djokovic interview, rather than segue right into the match, nope, Tennis Channel decided that a few commercials would be appropriate and so they did that and then to add fuel to the fire, they decided that their opera segment was also must see tv. Like many viewers I pay good money to get Tennis Channel here in Cayman and so I just consider it an affront that I have to pay all this money just so that I can listen to people talking about stuff that I, and many others like me, don’t care about.
4. Court Schedules – on Sunday, the day when most tennis fans are at home, and the time when CBS gets coverage of the US Open, the only women’s match that was shown on tv was that of Serena v Sloane. They did not even bother to show highlights. Even worse, they had the CBS Network up and running showing tennis. They never even gave the women’s matches that were being played as much as a highlight reel. It was embarrassingly sad. I watched Kerber v Suarez-Navarro on a stream, as did many others. I am not sure what the reason is, oh yes I do, they are women so no one wants to see them playing tennis. I guess we should be thankful that Serena Williams is still playing and that she is an American because I can’t imagine what would happen when she finally puts up her racquet. Today, 2 September is Labour Day in the US. All of the women’s matches were scheduled for the start of play. I guess the logic behind that was no one wants to see the women play. Well God, who is a woman, decided that She had had enough and so the rains came. So CBS which dissed the women’s matches today were left to show their viewers rain delay coverage featuring a whole host of tiebreaks, many of which ironically featured women.
5. Generation Next (ATP Edition) – I don’t really write much about men’s tennis, simply because aside from Federer and a few others, I don’t really enjoy men’s tennis that much. There was an interesting discussion on Tennis Channel (yes it happens from time to time) and the conversation surrounded when will the next great young player in men’s tennis emerge. Courier was the only person who felt that that young player was just around the corner. The other analysts were of the view that today’s game is just too brutal and built on power and strength for that to happen. James Blake made the point that perhaps if there were different surface conditions, then maybe someone with some amount of diversity would emerge. He said as it is now all surfaces played the same so there was no one out there with a different game, built for a particular surface, who could perhaps have a breakthrough. I agree with him wholeheartedly.
6. Generation Next (WTA Edition) – the list is long and full of talented young women. Giorgi, Vekic, Konta, Keys, Stephens, Hampton, Townsend, Robson, Watson, Nara, Bouchard. I could go on and on. They are everywhere. They have a lot of work to do on their games, but the future for the WTA is bright.
7. USO Outfits – Nike failed miserably this year. From Bouchard who looked like someone spray painted her, to Azarenka who wore an ill fitting dress, to Serena whose doubles top looked like something out of Dobby’s Finest, Nike just did a horrible job of outfitting the ladies this year. Adidas and Lotto were not much better. From Wozniacki in a dress only a milkmaid could love, to the confusion that was poor Robson’s kit, I wonder to myself if maybe it is not time for these outfits to perhaps hire independent designers or seek fan requests. Fila did Jankovic well as did ElevenbyVenus, which as is the norm was different.