August 30, 2015

A Tale from the Wimbledon Queue

WIMBLEDON – I’m not so sure if a Wimbledon experience would be complete without queuing up for tickets. But camping overnight for a fifth row Centre Court seat was totally worth it. And would I ever do it again? In a heartbeat, yes.

Maybe we got lucky with the weather (it only drizzled for a bit on our second day of camping, with a little rain late at night), but for the most part, camping for Wimbledon tickets was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. This coming from someone who has never camped in her life, with friends who have never camped in their lives. Yet, the consensus was the same: 100% fun.

 

Even though I got lucky and won Centre Court tickets for the second Monday of the Championships (here’s a tip: your chances of getting tickets through the ballot are better if you register to become a member of British Tennis for a minimal 1 year fee) I knew I would still queue for the other days. I wasn’t going to travel to London all the way from the Philippines just to see one day of tennis.

 

Here’s what we did on our two days of camping experience:

 

1.) We booked our hotel in Wimbledon. Marple Cottage is a quaint yet inexpensive B&B, that’s only a 10 minute bus ride to Wimbledon Park. It’s run by a lovely couple and serves a delicious breakfast.

 

2.) We ordered all our camping needs (our tent and sleeping bags) online at Argos’ Wimbledon branch 24 hours before we arrived in London which we then picked up right after checking in at our hotel.

 

3.) We figured around 11am was the best time to start queuing up for next day since we wanted Centre Court tickets. For the two days we did, we were number 140 on Monday for Tuesday’s play, and 90 on the queue card on Wed.

 

4.) After setting up our tent and base camp, it’s time to wait for the queue cards which they give out around 3pm-5pm. Everyone must be there to receive their queue cards so no one could leave. But once we got them, we could leave our tent behind and have a late lunch either at Wimbledon Village, or even closer, in Southfields.

 

5.) The reason why it’s best to book your hotel in Wimbledon is so you can go back to your hotel to shower. Around 7:30pm, we’d head back to our hotel, take a shower, order take out somewhere and head back to our tent for dinner. Then it’s time to sleep.

 

6.) The stewards line everybody up by 7am. So before that time, everything must be packed up, with bags and camping equipment checked in at the left luggage facility. Then, it’s a long wait and walk till you get your choice of ticket for the day. The ticket turnstiles indicate which section of the court they sell tickets to, so line up in the one where you want to be seated.

 

Overall, the entire experience was so much easier than I imagined it would be. By our second day of camping, we were experts at putting up our tent. The restrooms at the park were always clean, well-maintained and well-stocked.

 

It’s a fun, festive atmosphere all-around with chances to meet and befriend fellow tennis fans.

 

One tip: make sure you go with fun, tennis-obsessed companions. You’ll be stuck with them the whole time, and it’s truly them that can make or break your trip.  And mine was nothing but wonderful experience I’d be willing to do all over again.

 

By Abigail Hinto visiting Wimbledon for the first time from the Philippines. All photos by Abigail Hinto.

 

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Kick on for Queen and Country

For most years the success (or otherwise) of Britain’s tennis players rises to the top of people’s priority for the last week in June and the first week in July.

Then for the non-tennis following public, the hub-bub simply disappears and remains perhaps a footnote on the odd national news sports bulletin.

But this year something strange happened.

Perhaps due to the Jubilee, or the forthcoming Olympics, but the news of five people into the second round was a cause for a decent cream tea and perhaps a cheeky Pimms.

Even where players fell at the first hurdle, there were hard fought battles with higher raked opponents being pushed hard, step forward plucky fighters Jamie Baker and Laura Robson, giving former Slam champions Andy Roddick and Francesca Schiavone more than just a routine practice.

But Slam progression is just one match at a time, and the second round saw the numbers dwindle sharply.

Andy Murray needed to harness physical and mental strength to withstand the bombardment of 130 mph+ missiles from big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, winning 7-5 6-7(7), 6-2 7-6(7).

In a match where it was unlikely he would gather much rhythm, and was at times surprised by Karlovic’s nimbleness at the net, Murray prevailed in a fourth set tiebreak which left many fans fingers gnawed to the bone.

Heather Watson has impressed everyone this year with the apparent ease of her first two victories, and faces a real test against the world number 3 Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round.

Yet there still could be a good chance for her, if her self-belief continues.

Maybe the key to her success this year has been a willingness to change her approach.

After her second round victory against USA’s Jamie Hampton, 6-1, 6-4, she acknowledged that making some changes was a way to move herself up a level.

Watson said:”I’ve been known as kind of a counter‑puncher, good at moving and reading the game well, and I wanted to get to the next step, improve my game.

“I’ve been working with my coach at being more aggressive, coming to the net.

“I can volley.  I love to volley.  Probably volleyed once today and missed it.

“I’ve been working on being more aggressive.  And especially on the grass, you have to be.”

James Ward had a real chance to push his way past Mardy Fish, and battled through a tough fifth set decider, before Fish’s experience got the better of him.

After his great run at Queens last year, and already having come through a five-setter to get to the second round, the crowd on Court 1 stood to give Ward an ovation at the end of the match.

Ward said “It was nice of Mardy, as well.  He said the standing ovation was for me, so go out and enjoy it.  It was nice.  I appreciate it.”

Elena Baltacha pushed the 2011 Champion Petra Kvitova more in the second set, but sadly lost 0-6. 4-6.

However, Baltacha remained fairly pragmatic.

“I just kind of wish the second set was the first set, and then who knows what could have happened.  She played absolutely unbelievable,” she said, “she’s a very classy player.”

And of course being awarded an ITF wildcard, Baltacha will return for the Olympics

After years of injuries and an illness that almost put paid to her career, she could be forgiven for allowing retirement to cross her mind.

“I think if I still really enjoy it, if I still believe I’m improving and I still love it, then I’ll carry on.  But I’m literally going on a week‑to‑week basis.  I don’t put any pressure on myself.”

Anne Keothavong had perhaps more chances against French Open finalist Sara Errani, but succumbed 4-6, 4-6.

She admitted that she had her chances, and simply didn’t take those opportunities.

Keothavong said: “I’m disappointed with my own performance because I know I can play better.  I didn’t challenge her today as much as I would have liked.

“To lose in that fashion, you know, it’s not particularly pleasing.”

Like Baltacha, she will be returning to SW19 for the Olympics, also having been awarded a wildcard.

In between, she is looking ahead to the US swing.

“Had I not been on the Olympic team I would have camped out there until the US Open.  But I think the gap’s just too long from now until the Olympics.”

As with Baltacha, the question of retirement was also put to her.

“I have been around for a while, but there are girls older than me who are still out there winning slams and doing really well.

“That keeps me motivated.  You know, as long as I’m still enjoying it and as long as I’m fit and healthy, there are worse ways to make a living.”

It is strange to use the words “putting Murray aside”, but the real question is can these players now kick on and achieve more success as we gear up first for the Olympics, and then the US Open.

Where once cynics would complain about our Brits “crashing out”, there does appear to be some optimism.

Is there a sense of optimism in 2012 and a stirring of national pride in our tennis players?

And more importantly, with the US Open still to come in the tennis calendar, is now the time for the top British players to use this sense of optimism to “kick on” for Queen and country, and perhaps reach their full potential?

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT Journalist by day, a Sports journalist part-time and her match observations can be found at the Chalkdust Chronicles (chalkdustchronicles.blogspot.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

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Approach Shots – Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew

 

Mark “Scoop” Malinowski has written about tennis for Tennis Magazine, Tennis Week, Tennis Magazine Australia, Ace Magazine of Great Britain, Florida Tennis, Totally Tennis, Tennis View, www.ATPWorldTour.com, and CBS Sportsline.com. He has done Biofile interviews with Arthur Ashe, Don Budge, Pete Sampras, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Manuel Santana, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jim Courier, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and hundreds of other WTA and ATP players.

 

“Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew” (CreateSpace October 2011) is his second book. His first book was about boxing, titled “Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle.”

Through interviews with opponents, media, officials, fans, friends and others in the tennis industry, Malinowski paints a very unique portrait of former No. 1 Marcelo Rios. It’s an entertaining work, especially for tennis fans. So many of the quotes about Rios are priceless and prove what an enigma he was as a player and is as a person. “Scoop” answered a few questions about his book.

 

Karen Pestaina: What inspired you to put this book together?

Scoop Malinowski: Marcelo Rios was one of the most inspiring and talented players I ever saw play the sport. He had a stylish, colorful way of playing that many tennis figures admired and appreciated, people like Roger Federer, Mats Wilander, Luke Jensen, Brad Gilbert, among many others, respected Rios and the way he played, when at his best. Rios was also controversial because he was different and had a rebellious attitude. Rios should not be forgotten, he was an important player in tennis history. One worthy of some kind of book or tribute.  

 

KP: What was the most difficult part?

SM: It’s not easy to do a book about a subject and you know the subject won’t cooperate. Rios, as you probably know Karen, was far from cooperative with the media. So the hardest part was figuring out how to go about constructing the book.  I already had a good amount of content and information about Rios from other players from a Tennis Week magazine feature I did about Rios in 2005. Eventually I decided to form the book abstract and freeflowing, unpredictable and unusual – qualities which personified the subject himself. It’s definitely a different kind of read. But so far, the majority of readers of the book were happy with it. Many Rios fans contacted me saying they loved it. Hugo Armando, a former ATP player, who knew Rios from their days at Nick Bollettieri Academy, said it was one of the best tennis books he’s ever read.  

 

KP: Collecting all of the quotes and interviews must have been a big task. How did you approach it?

SM: Rios was a fascinating character and I was curious to learn as much as I could, which made the process almost easy. The original Tennis Week article started out by accident, when Thomas Johansson gave me a great story about Rios, when I asked him a ‘Funny Memory’ while doing a Biofile with him. That story, which is included in the book, sparked me to ask other tennis people for memories and anecdotes about Rios. And it seemed everybody I spoke with had a great story or a strong opinion of Rios. So a few years later, in 2008, when I decided to develop the original article into a book, it was just a lot of fun to listen to tennis world people talk about Rios. Some of the stories blew me away, or made me laugh so hard I had to wipe my eyes. The plan was just to talk to as many players, media, photographers, fans, officials, etc. etc. as possible at the various pro tournaments and events I covered – Miami, Delray Beach, U.S. Open, Newport.  And collect as much info about Rios as possible.

 
KP: Who were the most difficult people to get to comment on Rios?

SM: Well, I didn’t even bother to talk to Rios. I tried and failed about ten times to do a simple Biofile Q&A with him during his career and he refused every time, so there’s no way he would cooperate with a book about him. Which was no problem, because I didn’t expect him to tell me anything anyway. I tried many times to get his former coach Larry Stefanki to talk but he refused. I tried to get Agassi and at first it seemed he would talk. Agassi’s assistant e-mailed me saying Andre would talk but only if Rios personally asked Andre to. Obviously, Team Agassi didn’t realize I was doing it without Rios’ permission. When they learned that, that door closed. I would say everyone else I spoke with for this book, were very very helpful and shared a tremendous amount of information which I am extremely grateful for. Michael Joyce, Jan Michael Gambill, Nick Bollettieri, Bob Brett, Gilad Bloom, Roger Federer, Bud Collins, Alberto Bersategui, Luke Jensen, Donald Dell, Mike Nakajima of Nike, Weller Evans of the ATP were all enormously helpful.

 
KP: Have you sent Rios a copy of this book? Has he read it yet?

SM: I didn’t send a copy to Rios. Though one of the journalists with a Chilean newspaper who I did an interview with about the book, said he would give Rios a copy. That’s all I can tell you. I would think Rios would like this book, some parts will make him laugh, and of course some parts will probably make him cringe a little [smile].

 

KP: What do you personally think about Rios and his career?

SM: At his best, it was like watching a magician. Like Luke Jensen said, Rios played tennis differently than anybody else ever did. He changed the game, he was ahead of his time, his time hasn’t even come yet. It was just a thrill to see him play his best tennis, like the two matches with Agassi in Miami, and the final of the Grand Slam Cup vs. Agassi in Germany. Even Roger Federer said, Rios was one of his favorite players to watch, he said this back in 1999, the first time I interviewed him. But when Rios didn’t feel like playing it was a big disappointment. Because you wondered, what happened? How could he play so poorly when just the other day he was amazing? Despite the inconsistency, he was a great player in his era. Nobody can ever take away the fact that he was #1 in the world. That’s an amazing achievement. Rios was the best player on the planet for six weeks in 1998.

 

KP: Are you working on any other books?

SM: Yes, I’m working on a book about Muhammad Ali. Sort of similar to the Rios book, it’s a collection of memories and anecdotes about Muhammad Ali from outside the public eye and behind the scenes. Things most people don’t know about Muhammad Ali. For example his daughter Laila told me, Ali would take her and her siblings to a fast food restaurant for hamburgers. And then fans would recognize him and before you knew it, hundreds of people would be there, around her dad. Ali would get so wrapped up in being around those fans and people that he would forget he was even there with his kids and then would have to drive back and pick them up. So I’ve collected a lot of memories like that, just need to get a couple years more of those kinds of stories and personal memories.

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Marcelo-Rios-Man-Barely-Knew/dp/1461162416

Malinowski also writes for Tennis Prose, and his own site the Biofile. Follow him on twitter at @scoopmalinowski.

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Serena Williams Says No to Blue Clay and Talks Olympic Mixed Doubles at Product Launch

NEW YORK, NY (April 27, 2012) – Serena Williams continued her busy week in New York City at the Walgreens store in Times Square by launching Sleep Sheets® – a product which sells itself as a natural sleep aid.  It’s part of a new venture with basketball players LeBron James, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Chris Paul and recording artist Pitbull.

Here is a podcast of Tennis Panorama’s interview with the 13-time major champion. She discussed the new product she’s launching, her reaction to Madrid’s blue clay courts and the battle amongst American male players vying for her to pair with them for the mixed doubles competition at the London the Olympic Games.

Serena Williams interview Podcast with Tennis Panorama at Walgreens in Times Square 4-27-12

As part of the promotion for the product, instant-win golden tickets will be randomly inserted into Sleep Sheets® packages. Find one of the tickets and someone will win an once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet Serena Williams. For more information www.facebook.com/takeasheet.

 

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Approach Shots – 45 Love: My Yearlong Quest to Fulfill a Lifelong Dream in the Sport of Tennis

 

Ray Krueger is the deputy managing editor of the New York Times News Service and the author of the book 45 Love: My Yearlong Quest to Fulfill a Lifelong Dream in the Sport of Tennis (Diversion Books – March 1, 2012).

 

The work tells his story, that of a 275-pound teenager who falls in love with the game of tennis and works his way to becoming a top 20 tennis player in the USTA 45-and-over age division despite physical and emotional obstacles.

 

Even if you don’t play tennis, readers will relate to the passion that Krueger has for the game and competing. Krueger brings the reader along  with him on his quest for a national ranking with his engaging stories and his personal struggles. It’s one of those rare books that once you start reading you can’t put it down until you finish.

 

Krueger generously took time out to answer questions about 45-Love.

 

Karen Pestaina: What led you to write this book?
Ray Krueger: A lot of things. My professional life was in turmoil and I knew I was going to take a run at getting the best possible national ranking in the 45-and-over division. Having years of tournaments under my belt, and a lot of stories to tell from those experiences, I decided to write about them. But then as I went back into my childhood and teenage years I realized how tennis had been such powerful force in my life.

 

Q: What was the writing process like? What the most difficult part of it to write?
RK: The most difficult parts to write were the parts where I left out people’s real names. I didn’t want the book to have the feel of getting even with people who I had problems with on the court. When they signed up for a tournament they didn’t sign up to have their misbehavior broadcast for the world to see. Yet I still wanted the stories to be true representations of what really happened. So against some of my journalistic instincts I gave them nicknames, nicknames I have remembered them by through the years.


In terms of the writing process itself, I had lots of downtime as I was at tournaments and in between matches I would be back in my hotel room writing on my laptop. I would even scribble ideas sitting in my car, or even write emails to myself on my phone with ideas or matches I wanted to make sure to mention.

Q: What led you to play tennis in the first place?
RK: The idea of hitting something that didn’t hit back was very appealing. And as a loner I liked the idea of not being dependent on a team and all the social dynamics that seemed to bring.

 

Q: What did you think about the USTA ranking system when it was changed?
RK: I hated it. I think the computer looking at who you beat and who you lose to is the best system. But the USTA wanted to encourage players to play more tournaments so I understand why they did it. I am sort of obsessed with the negative effects of points-per-round so I volunteered to design the points system used in the Eastern Section. I put in a “Best of ….” system to encourage play without turning the rankings into an attendance test.


But no matter what you do the system will never be perfect. I remember a guy I once lost to 6-0, 6-0 at National clay courts was ranked one spot below me because that was the only tournament he played in that year.

 

Q: Since you are a stats person, what do think about the ATP and WTA current ranking systems?
RK: That is a very complicated question.

 

Like I said, I think the computer parsing out the rankings by who players beat and lose to is the best system. But that would make it impossible for fans to see what players need to do to rise and fall. And then you might have a case where a player wins a Grand Slam and doesn’t crack the top 50 because they haven’t beat the top players. Right now the big complaint seems to be that you can be number 1 without winning a Grand Slam (Caroline Wozniacki) but I think other systems would have the same problem. Or different problems. If you devise a point system that so heavily favors the Slams you could have somebody like a Melanie Oudin being in the Top 20 for a year after her run at the U.S. Open.

 

Q: What advice would you give those in their quest for a national ranking?
RK: Have an understanding spouse! But also plan out your tournament schedule a year in advance so you can try to get your work and family life in synch with your tournament schedule (if that is ever possible). The most important thing is to get into the best shape as possible. It is one thing to travel across the country and lose to someone who is clearly better than you. It is another thing to lose because you are not in the best shape you can be.

 

Q: With anyone allowed to enter the US Open National Playoffs to gain a spot in the US Open Qualifying, do you see yourself participating?
RK: I might. I gave up playing USTA Open tournaments a long time ago but this year I might make a comeback.

 

Q: Have you really stopped eating Haagen-Daas?
RK: Yes. It is low-fat sugar-free frozen yogurt for me. But I won’t tell you how much of it I eat.

 

Ray Krueger is the deputy managing editor of the New York Times News Service, the wire service of the New York Times, and has written about tennis and mixed martial arts both for the paper and its website. He is also one of the founding writer/editors of the Times’ tennis blog, Straight Sets. Previously, he wrote for the New York Daily News, the Jersey Journal and Reuters and has also worked for CBS Radio and Sportsticker. He continues to train for his next tennis tournament as he researches his next book project and lives with his wife, a former junior player herself, and two kittens in Manhattan. He hopes to improve on his best national ranking by the time he gets to the 90-and-over age group.

45 Love: My Yearlong Quest to Fulfill a Lifelong Dream in the Sport of Tennis [Kindle Edition] is available on Amazon.com http://amzn.to/ADfW87

 

Bonus – An excerpt from the book:

It started with a phone call from a friend and regular practice partner.
“Ray, you are not going to believe what happened to me. It is the craziest thing I
have seen at a tournament.”
To protect the guilty, I will call him Ken Rosewall.
He told the story of playing in an unsanctioned local tournament. He was winning
the match easily and in the second set his opponent said he was quick serving him.
Rosewall said it was supposed to be server’s pace and if there was a problem they should get the referee.

The referee agreed with Rosewall.
But at a changeover, his opponent grabbed the balls, ran to the service line and
served while Rosewall was still on his chair. He then said it was the same thing Rosewall was doing to him. The referee defaulted him.
He went berserk. He would not stop going after the tournament director and my
friend. Cops were called. Days later, Rosewall said he heard Berserker went to the
tournament director’s house and a restraining order was filed.
A month later I was playing in the semifinal of a local tournament against a guy I
had never heard of.
I didn’t have any problems with his calls, but he was playing very slow. He did
something I had never seen on a court before. He would serve with one ball and if he
missed his first serve he would walk back to the fence to pick up another ball for his
second serve. He would towel off at the back fence where he kept the other ball, and then hit his second serve.
Well, we are supposed to play at server’s pace…
I looked over to the tournament director. He wasn’t there. He had to leave and his
girlfriend was handling the desk.
I decided to stay calm. My opponent didn’t have any weapons, and just ran down
everything. That is my style and I was confident I could outlast him. He seemed to be the brooding sort, not talking before the match, not looking me in the eye.
But as I started winning he finally blew. Screaming, yelling, hitting the balls into the
fence. After every point. Some of the worst behavior I had ever seen. I kept calm. He was self-destructing. But it was uncomfortable and scary. He was directing his anger at me.
“You have nothing,” he was screaming at me. And now he was looking at me straight in the eye.
It was rage trash-talking. He wasn’t saying how he was going to beat me, but saying
how much I sucked. I had never seen that before. He was losing and the more he was
losing the more abusive he became. I just took it, but I was boiling.
The match had gone over an hour before I won the first set. I was more exhausted
from holding myself back from responding to the abuse than I was the match.
Then at a changeover he walked past me, glared at me and with full force kicked my
tennis bag. My anger boiled over.
“You can do all you want out here, but you can’t kick my bag,” I screamed. He didn’t
say a word, just looking at me his eyes getting wider and his chest poking out like he was preparing for a fight. The silence bothered me so I said, “I have glasses in my bag.”
“I didn’t break anything,” he screamed. I kept walking to the other side of the court. “That doesn’t make a difference,” I screamed back.
I looked over at the tournament director’s girlfriend. She was angry as well, although
I thought it was for her boyfriend leaving her to be in the middle of this situation. Hearing the commotion in the first set, a bunch of people had gathered to watch. The match was in an urban park and the locals who may have never cared about tennis wanted to see what the ruckus was about.
They seemed to both welcome my going back at him and be afraid about what might
happen next. I was in a car crash and I wasn’t driving.
The crowd watching, and my outburst, only seemed to make my opponent’s behavior
worse. I started to wonder if he might have a weapon in his bag. But I was so enraged
myself that I didn’t care. I wasn’t married at the time and at that point was willing to die on that court.
I won the next game.
Then my opponent took all three balls and launched them, one at a time, over the
fence as far as he could. He sat down in the center of the court at the serving T, as if it
was a 1960s sit in.
I walked over to the fence where the tournament director’s girlfriend was sitting on
the other side.
“What do I do now?” I asked.
She did not respond, just got up and walked in the direction of where he balls might
have landed. She eventually came back with balls, even though I wasn’t sure they were the ones we were using. I didn’t care. About 15 minutes had gone by and I was beyond furious. If he couldn’t get defaulted for that there was no way she was going to do
anything. I imagined her thinking that she didn’t want the rage being directed to me to be directed at her.
My opponent was still sitting in the same spot at the service line.
I took the balls and went back to serve. To my surprise, he got up and went back to
return.
The pattern continued. Long points with me winning most of them and outbursts
after every point where he told me how much I had nothing. I would cross over on the other side of the court so I was never closer than 20 feet away from him. I was afraid he was going to take a swing at me if I got within five feet. Finally I closed it out.
Now came the hard part. I would have to come to the net to shake his hand. I know if
I didn’t go to shake his hand that may send him over the edge even more. But I was
scared if I put my hand out he would sucker punch me.
So I thought I might say something to defuse the situation.
So I timed my steps. I got within 10 steps when I decided, well, he did fight hard,
and maybe if I compliment him on that I can get out of this situation without any more problems.
“I said, “You sure fought hard out there,” as I put out my hand. He shook it as he
yelled. “I should have been seeded in this tournament and not faced you in the
semifinals.” Huh?
“I am 16th in the East,” he continued. I had a flashback to my working life and said,
just to be factually correct: “You couldn’t be 16th in the East. My friend Ken Rosewall
was 16th in the East. ‘
It was a Lucille Ball, “slowly I turn moment” moment.
His eyes became flares. “KEN ROSEWALL IS YOUR FRIEND? THAT IS THE
GUY WHO GOT ME ARRESTED!!!”
I realized at that point, it was Berserker.
I quickly grabbed my bag with a dent in the side of it. But Berserker was in hot
pursuit. “I should have kicked his ass when I had the opportunity!” I was in a full sprint at this point. “And if you weren’t running away I would kick yours too.”
I was on the other side of the fence at this point.
I asked the tournament director what time the final would be. She tells me and says,
“Thank you for your patience.”
Luckily, Berserker was still on the other side of the fence, but he was leaning right
against it screaming about how he was going to get me. I heard him scream something about what he would do to me in a rematch.
I had heard enough, and from the safety of the other side of the fence I screamed
back, “You wouldn’t have a chance.” I hustled to my car.
The last thing I heard from him was how I have to learn to be a better winner.

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Davis Cup in Monte Carlo, Day 3: Isner – The New Closer

By Guillaume Willecoq

“Before, it was Andy Roddick the biggest closer of the US team, maybe I can do as well.” For the first time, John Isner clinched a Davis Cup for the US team, after an amazing match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. “I was pissed off to have to admire the way he was playing” said Guy Forget, fair play. The US boy from Greensboro, NC ended Guy Forget’s run as French Captain.  Forget led the French Davis Cup team since 1999. The new captain won’t be named before September. For the US team, they will face Spain again in semifinals, as in 2008, “I assume on clay, laughs Isner, but we will be ready to go!”

4th rubber : John Isner d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 in 3h20

First serve: 66% / 71%

Aces: 16 / 5

Double faults: 4 / 4

Winners: 56 / 43

Forced and unforced errors: 86 / 88

Break points: 2/9 / 1/7

Net points won: 37 / 29

The French team at their news conference :

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “John has played a huge match. I wasn’t in a great day. John was better than I was. He played better the important points, and played more aggressively… It’s not a surprise he can perform at this level. But I was surprised he could keep this level through the whole tie.”

“Guy was the only captain I knew, and every time he made me like this competition, and tennis even more. He shared his love of the game. It’s the most beautiful thing to me.”

Guy Forget: “The deception is a little easier to accept since it comes from the hands of Jim Courier, a really good guy. Jim was a role model, and his players are just like him. This US team and mine have many values in common.”

“Tonight I have mixed emotions. It’s the end of 14 years as a captain, but my story with story with Davis Cup is longer than that: it started in the USSR in 1983 or 1984. It’s weird it’s over.”

The US team at their new conference :

John Isner: “I believe in myself : if I can play like I play this week I can beat a lot of people in the next Roland-Garros. Beating Gilles and beating Jo are two very good wins, I played very well, if I can keep this level up I’m gonna be tough to beat.”

“Jim definitely helped me in that first tie in Switzerland. I had a very good win against Roger and he helped this week. It’s been a gradual thing for me, my coach back home put the majority of my working, but when I came here, Jim kinds of make me ready. Captain Courier is a guy that I’m very comfortable on the bench, so that helps.”

Jim Courier: “The quality of today’s match was exceptional, I thought better even than on Friday. John is definitely continuing to improve even from the last tie. I think he played better this one. It is impressive.”

“Against Spain, we probably lose it on paper but they don’t play them on paper. We have to play it out there and we have players who are capable and passionate and hungry. We are definitely going to be the underdog once again but we will be ready to play.”

-          The special guests section:

Spotted today at the Monte Carlo Country Club: Novak Djokovic, the World N°1, and his girlfriend curiously at home in Monaco and not in Belgrade to support his teammates against Czech Republic; Ricardo Piatti and Ivan Ljubicic, for the last tournament of Ljubi’s career, next week in Monte Carlo; Eric Winogradsky, former Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s coach ; Alain Boghossian, former soccer player, World champion in 1998 with the French squad; the little group of the Net Heads, trying to make as much noise as the French crowd; and a bonus, Alexandre Vinokourov, the cyclist champion, training with three Astana’s teammates on the roads of Monaco.

End of the week in Monaco for Guillaume and MarieJ. It’s been a pleasure to share with you the coverage of this France / USA tie, in one of the most beautiful places for tennis. We are French, but we were really drawn in by this US team. See you next time and good luck in Spain!

Guillaume Willecoq was at the Monte Carlo Country Club covering the US versus France quarterfinal Davis Cup tie as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Guillaume Willecoq also manages and contributes to the French language tennis website http://www.15-lovetennis.com, follow them on twitter on @15lovetennis.

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown Names Roger Federer Greatest of All-Time

LOS ANGELES, CA. – MARCH 21, 2012 — Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time  the five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players culminated on Friday night with Roger Federer being named the greatest tennis player of all-time.  The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  aired for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

The Top 10
10 – Billie Jean King, F, USA
9 – Chris Evert, F, USA
8 – Margaret Court, F, AUS
7 – Bjorn Borg, M, SWE
6 – Rafael Nadal, M, ESP
5 – Pete Sampras, M, USA
4 – Martina Navratilova, F, USA/CZE
3 – Steffi Graf, F, GER
2 – Rod Laver, M, AUS
1 – Roger Federer, M, SUI

Full list: (#11-100)
100 – Michael Chang, M, USA
99 – Ann Haydon Jones, F, GBR
98 – Henry Bunny Austin, M, GBR
97 – Pat Cash, M, AUS
96 – Manuel Orantes, M, ESP
95 – Thomas Muster, M, AUT
94 – Andy Roddick, M, USA
93 – Nicola Pietrangeli, M, ITA
92 – Svetlana Kuznetsova, F, RUS
91 – Shirley Fry Irvin, F, USA
90 – Bill Johnston, M, USA
89 – Dorothea Lambert Chambers, F, GBR
88 – Amelie Mauresmo, F, FRA
87 – Mary Pierce, F, FRA
86 – Tony Wilding, M, NZL
85 – Yannick Noah, M, FRA
84 – Norman Brookes, M, AUS
83 – Jan Kodes, M, CZE
82 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, M, RUS
81 – Vic Seixas, M, USA
80 – Marat Safin, M, RUS
79 – Gabriela Sabatini, F, ARG
78 – Ashley Cooper, M, AUS
77 – Molla Mallory, F, USA
76 – William Renshaw, M, GBR
75 – Pauline Betz Addie, F, USA
74 – Tony Roche, M, AUS
73 – Jaroslav Drobny, M, CZE
72 – Gottfried Von Cramm, M, GER
71 – Maria Sharapova, F, RUS
70 – Patrick Rafter , M, AUS
69 – Louise Brough , F, USA
68 – Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA
67 -  Fred Stolle , M, AUS
66 – Bobby Riggs , M, USA
65 – Pancho Segura  , M, ECU
64 – Ellsworth Vines , M, USA
63 – Lleyton Hewitt  , M, AUS
62 – Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE
61 – Neale Fraser , M, AUS
60 – Virginia Wade , F, GBR
59 – Margaret Osborne Dupont, F,  USA
58 – Alice Marble , F,  USA
57 – Jennifer Capriati , F, USA
56 – Stan Smith, M, USA
55 -  Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA
54 – Manuel Santana, M, ESP
53 – Tracy Austin, F, USA
52 – Jack Crawford, M, AUS
51 – Doris Hart, F, USA
50 – Tony Trabert, M, USA
49 – Ilie Nastase , M, ROM
48 – Frank Sedgman, M, AUS
47 -  Jean Borotra, M, FRA
46 -  Henri Cochet, M, FRA
45 -  Kim Clijsters, F, BEL
44 -  Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP
43 -  Lindsay Davenport, F, USA
42 -  Jim Courier, M, USA
41 -  Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG
40 – Novak Djokovic, M, SRB
39 – Althea Gibson, F, USA
38 – Maria Bueno, M, BRA
37 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS
36 – Rene Lacoste, M, FRA
35 – Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA
34 – Jack Kramer, M, USA
33 – Mats Wilander, M, SWE
32 – Lew Hoad, M, AUS
31 – John Newcombe, M, AUS
30 – Martina Hingis, F, SUI
29 – Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA
28 – Arthur Ashe, M, USA
27 – Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA
26 – Justine Henin, F, BEL
25 – Stefan Edberg, M, SWE
24 – Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA
23 – Fred Perry, M, GBR
22 – Venus Williams, F, USA
21 – Boris Becker, M, GER
20 – Ken Rosewall, M, AUS
19 – Monica Seles, F, USA
18 – Ivan Lendl, M, CZE
17 – Roy Emerson, M, AUS
16 – Bill Tilden, M, USA
15 – Jimmy Connors, M, USA
14 – Serena Williams, F, USA
13 – John McEnroe, M, USA
12 – Andre Agassi, M, USA
11 – Don Budge, M, USA

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranks both men and women on the same top 100 list. Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Timeproject with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel.

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #11-20

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presents players ranked #11-20 in Thursday night’s episode.   Now it’s time for the Top 10.  The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Wednesday’s episode.

20 – Ken Rosewall, M, AUS

19 – Monica Seles, F, USA

18 – Ivan Lendl, M, CZE

17 – Roy Emerson, M, AUS

16 – Bill Tilden, M, USA

15 – Jimmy Connors, M, USA

14 – Serena Williams, F, USA

13 – John McEnroe, M, USA

12 – Andre Agassi, M, USA

11 – Don Budge, M, USA

 

Here are the 10 players that will be featured in Friday’s episode  

 

The Top 10 (in alphabetical order)

Bjorn Borg

Margaret Court

Chris Evert

Roger Federer

Steffi Graf

Billie Jean King

Rod Laver

Rafael Nadal

Martina Navratilova

Pete Sampras

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranks both men and women on the same top 100 list. Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Timeproject with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel.

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #21-40

 

Tennis Channel‘s 100 Greatest of all Time is  a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presents players ranked #21-40 in Wednesday night’s episode.   The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Wednesday’s episode.

 

40 – Novak Djokovic, M, SRB

39 – Althea Gibson, F, USA

38 – Maria Bueno, M, BRA

37 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS

36 – Rene Lacoste, M, FRA

35 – Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA

34 – Jack Kramer, M, USA

33 – Mats Wilander, M, SWE

32 – Lew Hoad, M, AUS

31 – John Newcombe, M, AUS

30 – Martina Hingis, F, SUI

29 – Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA

28 – Arthur Ashe, M, USA

27 – Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA

26 – Justine Henin, F, BEL

25 – Stefan Edberg, M, SWE

24 – Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA

23 – Fred Perry, M, GBR

22 – Venus Williams, F, USA

21 – Boris Becker, M, GER

 

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #41-70

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time, a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presenting players ranked #41-70 in Tuesday night’s episode.   The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Tuesday’s episode.

 

70 – Patrick Rafter , M, AUS

69 – Louise Brough , F, USA

68 – Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA

67 -  Fred Stolle , M, AUS

66 – Bobby Riggs , M, USA

65 – Pancho Segura  , M, ECU

64 – Ellsworth Vines , M, USA

63 – Lleyton Hewitt  , M, AUS

62 – Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE

61 – Neale Fraser , M, AUS

60 – Virginia Wade , F, GBR

59 – Margaret Osborne Dupont, F,  USA

58 – Alice Marble , F,  USA

57 – Jennifer Capriati , F, USA

56 – Stan Smith, M, USA

55 -  Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA

54 – Manuel Santana, M, ESP

53 – Tracy Austin, F, USA

52 – Jack Crawford, M, AUS

51 – Doris Hart, F, USA

50 – Tony Trabert, M, USA

49 – Ilie Nastase , M, ROM

48 – Frank Sedgman, M, AUS

47 -  Jean Borotra, M, FRA

46 -  Henri Cochet, M, FRA

45 -  Kim Clijsters, F, BEL

44 -  Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP

43 -  Lindsay Davenport, F, USA

42 -  Jim Courier, M, USA

41 -  Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG

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