Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winners All! 2/24/08

Here are the winners of four of the five events that occurred this past weekend. The SAP event is still underway. The winning pictures will be added later.

David Nalbandian 2008 Copa Telmex Buenos Aires Argentina

Bethanie Mattek and Nicole Benesova 2008 Copa Colsanitas Doubles Bogota Colombia

Nuria Llagostera Vives Copa Colsanitas 2008 Bogota Colombia

Maria Sharapova 2008 Qatar Open Doha Qatar

Mikel Llodra 2008 ABN Amro Rotterdam

Congratulations also go out to Kveta Peschke and
Rennae Stubbs 2008 Doubles Champions Doha Qatar
and to Dmitry Tursunov and Tomas Berdych Doubles Champions ABN Amro Rotterdam

Andy Roddick 2008 SAP Champion San Jose California

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An Interview with Nishikori Kei And Other News 2/19/08

by Savannah

ESPN did an interview with 2008 phenom Nishikori Kei of Japan. Kei has a tough draw in San Jose but from reading this I'm sure he'll do his best. I love that the questions were sensible and that tennisheads acquitted themselves well. By the way it seems his name is pronounced "Kay".

SportsNation Buzzmaster: We've got Kei right here! Send in those questions!

Art, San Francisco: Congrats, Kei! What is your new goal for this year, now that you've won a tournament?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori:
My goal was to make the top 100 by the end of this year. But I'm already 131 right now. I would like to get a main draw for the French Open and the top 50 by the end of this year. That's my goal.

Brad (Gadsden,Alabama): Kei, Who was your fav. tennis player growing up?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Roger Federer. He's so talented. I like to see him in his prime. He's fun to watch.

Yuko Watanabe, Yokohama, Japan: Do you miss Japan? Do you miss your friends and family?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: So much. Yes. But when I first came here, I was so home sick. But right now it's OK. Sometimes I still get homesick but I have friends here in the U.S.

Laurelin (Boston): I really enjoyed watching you play in Delray. What do you consider your best shot? I liked the flying forehand!!

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: My forehand, but everyone tells me my backhand is better.

Shaun, Little Rock, Arkansas: What effect will your success in Tennis have in getting more people involved in tennis in Japan?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: It's that famous in Japan, but right now I'm No. 1 in Japan. I hope tennis gets more popular.

Satoru, Tokyo: Many Japanese sports-shimbun cerebrate your brave challenge! Congratulations!

Lisa, Boynton Beach, FLA: Kei, I saw in the paper you don't call your parents during a tournament. Why not?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Yeah, I used to call my parents after a big match. But the next day I lose every time. That's bad luck. So I don't call them if I'm still winning.

Shaun, Little Rock, Arkansas: I saw you play last year at the St. Vincent tournament in Little Rock. Back then, it looked like your conditioning was high enough yet to compete on the big stage, what or who has been the biggest contributor to your improved stamina?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I didn't get tired last week. These last two months I was working very hard. I was using weights and more training. I feel so much stronger now.

Fred (Houston): Do you train here in the States or back home in Japan? Did you go to high school? Do you have a fallback plan if this tennis thing doesn't work out?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Here, in the Florida.

A. Fitch (San Jose): How do you feel about becoming a Japanese superstar overnight? You are like the Roger Federer of Japan!!

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I still can't believe it that I won an ATP tournament. I don't feel like a superstar yet.

John Eisner, San Francisco, CA: What is your favorite food?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Sushi or the Japanese food.

Mika, San Jose california: Did you eat Asian food in San Jose?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I'm trying to get Japanese food tonight.

Carrie (Austin, Texas): One of the most noticable aspects about your game is your jumping forehand. How did you start doing that motion and what advantages do you think it brings? Thanks and good luck in the future!

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I used to do it when I was young. Sometimes on the return, I can lift it and the shot just feels good.

Jacob Eifir, Fort Wayne, IN: Kei, what other pros have inspired you at the Bollitteri Academy?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Tommy Haas. Xavier.

Nik, San Francisco: Congratulations on your first title Kei. How would you describe your style of game and what is your favorite surface to play on?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I say an all-around player. I like to use more forehand. And I like clay courts.

Yuki, Tokyo: I heard you hit with Rafael Nadal before his Roland Garros final in 2006. What did you learn from the experience?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Yeah, it was right after I won junior doubles. I was more nervous doing that than playing the doubles final. He hit every ball heavy. It's tough to play against a guy like him.

Mike in Seattle: Are you a baseball fan? Do you follow Ichiro and the other Japanese stars over here?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: No, actually. I know Ichiro and all the guys from Japan, but I don't follow them.

Jacob Eifir, Fort Wayne, IN: Why do you like red clay so much? What about the clay that suits your game?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I have to be stronger mentally and physically. It's fun to play on clay, because I have to use all the shots - drop shots, top spin. It's fun to play on the clay.

Robert (Orlando): Is there anything in particularly different about last week regarding the way you played that helped you to win the tournament?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: My serve was better. It was good. And mentally, I was stronger than before.

Alice (Phoenix, Arizona): I heard you played soccer as a kid. How popular is that sport in Japan?

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: I think it's No. 1 or 2. When I was 12, but the tennis was more fun, so I chose tennis.

SportsNation Kei Nishikori: Thank you for all the support. It was fun to play last week. A lot of people were cheering me. It was fun.

Someone who likes playing in the dirt. Let's see what happens for this young man the rest of the year.

In Other News

So how did the press know to camp out in front of Goran Ivanisevic's place? I mean if the mother of your children is throwing you out over an affair with another woman would you expect papparazzi on your doorstep? Goran is said to have broken one press person's camera.

ProTennis live scores has been the pits so far this week. It got so bad that it showed Karin Knapp had retired in a match she was winning when in fact she had won the match. Guess that crack IT team that put together the Doha site is working overtime.

Shahar Pe'er made history this week by being the first Israeli athlete to play in an Arab country. She was photgraphed in traditional garb along with the rest of her peers in a great series of pictures taken during the opening ceremony in Doha.

Justine Henin and Roger Federer won Laureus Awards. No surprise about either player winning but it is jarring to see sportsmanship and Justine in the same sentence.

The French Fed Cup team lost it's appeal and China is the official winner of their tie. The controversy came about when the French Captain said that Peng Shuai, who left for France to play the tournament she was entered in, did not do her drug testing prior to leaving. Peng, who it seems has never turned pro, did her drug test in France.
China will play Spain in Beijing in April.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been! 2/17/08

by Savannah

I think it's safe to say that tennis was not what Jerry Garcia had in mind when he penned those words but I don't know how else to describe this last week in the tennis world. Once again the Old Guard has been challenged and while there were some members of that circle who held on some who've been standing outside the gate are laying seige to the castle. An eighteen year old qualifier won Delray Beach, an event many tennis heads had conceded to James Blake. From all reports Blake was powned and had no answer for young Nishikori Kei of Japan who took one set from the veteran player 6-1.

Andy Murray
won over Mario Ancic in Marseille. Ancic is returning to the tour after a long illness and Murray skipped Davis Cup play for Britain due to a chronic knee injury.

In Brasil Nicolas Almagro of Spain pulled out a win over countryman Carlos Moya.

Chile saw WTA tour stalwart Flavia Pennetta win the first installment of the Cachantun Cup at Vina del Mar.

Karin Knapp made it to her first final and while she didn't win she served notice on the already shallow WTA tour that she's not to be taken lightly. It was Justine Henin who won the Diamond Trophy but eyes are now on Knapp who has had a good season so far this year.

Men's Doubles should have been more of the same old same old right? Wrong. Max Mirnyi and Jamie Murray outplayed the Bryan twins. In Brasil the team of Melo and Sa of Brasil hoisted the winners trophy.

Congratulations to all the Winners!

Andy Murray Champion Marseilles 2008

Liga Dekmeijere (L) and Alicja Rosolska Doubles Champions Vina del Mar 2008

Flavia Pennetta Winner 2008 Cachantun Cup Vina del Mar

Justine Henin Winner Antwerp 2008

Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa Winners Men's Doubles Costa do Sauipe Brasil

Nishikori Kei Winner Delray Beach 2008

Nicolas Almagro Champion Costa do Sauipe Brasil 2008

Black History Month Profile of the Week
Paul Lawrence Dunbar

Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who had escaped from slavery; his father was a veteran of the American Civil War, having served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment. His parents instilled in him a love of learning and history. He was the only black student at Dayton Central High School and he participated actively as a student. During college, he was both the editor of the school newspaper and class president, as well as the president of the school literary society. Dunbar had also started the first African-American newsletter in Dayton.

He wrote his first poem at age 6 and gave his first public recital at age 9. Dunbar's first published work came in a newspaper put out by his high school friends Wilbur and Orville Wright, who owned a printing plant. The Wright Brothers later invested in the Dayton Tattler, a newspaper aimed at the black community, edited and published by Dunbar.

His first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy, was published in 1892 and attracted the attention of James Whitcomb Riley, the popular "Hoosier Poet". Both Riley and Dunbar wrote poems in both standard English and dialect. His second book, Majors and Minors (1895) brought him national fame and the patronage of William Dean Howells, the novelist and critic and editor of Harper's Weekly. After Howells' praise, his first two books were combined as Lyrics of Lowly Life and Dunbar started on a career of international literary fame. He moved to Washington, D.C., in the Le Droit Park neighborhood. While in Washington, he attended Howard University.

His wife Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a famous poet as well. A graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, her most famous works include a short story entitled "Violets". She and her husband also wrote books of poetry as companion pieces. An account of their love, life and marriage was depicted in a play by Kathleen McGhee-Anderson titled Oak and Ivy.[1]

He kept a lifelong friendship with the Wrights, and was also associated with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Brand Whitlock was also described as a close friend.[2] He was honored with a ceremonial sword by President Theodore Roosevelt.

He wrote a dozen books of poetry, four books of short stories, five novels, and a play. His essays and poems were published widely in the leading journals of the day. His work appeared in Harper's Weekly, the Saturday Evening Post, the Denver Post, Current Literature and a number of other publications. During his life, considerable emphasis was laid on the fact that Dunbar was of pure black descent, with no white ancestors.

Dunbar's work is known for its colorful language and use of dialect, and a conversational tone, with a brilliant rhetorical structure.

Dunbar traveled to England in 1897 to recite his works on the London literary circuit. He met the brilliant young black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor who set some of his poems to music and who was influenced by Dunbar to use African and American Negro songs and tunes in future compositions.

After his return, Dunbar took a job at the Library of Congress in Washington. In 1900, Dunbar was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and moved to Colorado with his wife on the advice of his doctors. Dunbar died at age thirty-three on February 9, 1906, and was interred in the Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.

Monica Seles

by Savannah

A lot of things happened this week but I want to take a moment and talk about one of my all time favorites, Monica Seles.

As every tennishead knows Monica, 34, officially retired this past week. There had been rumors about a comeback but even those faded as it became clear that Monica had other things on her mind.

We all remember the giggly screeching phenomenon who burst on the scene at the tender age of 15 with a game that revolutionized women's tennis and ushered in the Big Babe era in the women's game.

What was her record? Let me post excerpts from an article by Richard Pagliaro that quotes Jimmy Connors on her talent and heart:

The owner of a 595-122 record, Seles won concluded 1991 and 1992 as World No. 1. In a sensational, sustained span of dominance she won eight of the 11 Grand Slam tournaments she entered from 1989 to 1993. She inspired a legion of top players, including Venus Williams and Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. In a past interview with Tennis Week, Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors said Seles' fighting spirit, willingness to play even closer to the lines on pivotal points and her aggressive baseline style made her the player that most reminded him of himself.

"Who reminds me of me? Monica Seles is the player I think who played the game the way I tried to play it." Connors told Tennis Week in a past interview. "She always played as hard as she could every single match and left it all on the court. I have tremendous respect for Seles."

A stress fracture in her foot caused Monica to step away from the game five years ago but it was the incident in Germany when she was nineteen that stopped Monica's march to what would have been uncontested greatness in the WTA. Here is a report from the New York Times with details.

Monica spoke about the incident in a radio interview before a recent appearance in California with Steve Hartman, Mychal Thompson and Vic "The Brick" Jacobs on "The Loose Cannons Show". Here are excerpts from that interview that appear in the Richard Pagliaro article.

On being stabbed at a match April 30, 1993 in Hamburg, Germany:
"I was only 19 when I got stabbed. It would never have happened in any other sport. I said to myself, `Why me,’ but I was proud of myself that I was able to move on and to get back to the sport that I loved and adore. That to me was the final triumph after a few bad years."
On the lack of punishment to her attacker:
"I really felt that I could not justify in my own brain someone stabs you in front of 7,000 people, admits that he planned it, and never spends a night in jail. I don’t feel safe playing there (in Germany) again after what happened to me."
On returning to tennis after her stabbing:
"I was lucky. My mom and dad had really strong personalities and supported me. At the end of the day, the love I had for the game I started at 7 years old motivated me to come back. I never imagined I would make a great living and travel throughout the world. I started playing tennis because I loved it. I tell kids, `don’t look at the fame and the money. Play tennis because you love it.’ I missed it."
On not hearing from other players after her stabbing:
"The women's tour is very competitive. There’s a lot of money at stake. It is what it is. It was very unfortunate. It changed my career and it changed Stefi’s (Graf). That’s life. It is a business."
On playing in the 1998 French Open after her dad, Karoly, died:
"My dad passed away a couple days before the French (Open). I thought, `What would my dad want me to do?’ He battled cancer. I thought, `follow your heart,’ and my heart told me to go out and play for my dad. He was a cartoonist. He always saw the lighter side of everything. Part of me said stay home, but I knew that was not what my dad would have wanted."
On her dad’s coaching philosophy:
"He saw the bigger picture of sports, instead of just win or lose. He was human. Sports is a business and cutthroat and people will do anything to win, but I was lucky I had my dad as my coach and he never put pressure on me. Win or lose, the love he gave me was the same. Sadly I see too many cases are the other way now."
On the state of women’s tennis:
"(Justine) Henin has on average dominated the (WTA) tour, but if you look at the championships in Madrid, you see Henin beat (Marion) Bartoli 6-0, 6-0. Those scores shouldn’t happen in the championships. You want to see the top players play each other. That’s the only way the fans will tune in."
On tennis players having shorter careers due to other distractions:
"It’s harder now. You have to be a multi-media athlete. You have to look good, speak well and do all the off the court stuff. In the old days, we did much less. Tennis is a brutal sport. We play 10 and a half months a year. It’s hard to stay injury-free. A lot of the top players struggle with that. Roger (Federer) has a different game. It doesn’t take as much out of him as Serena (Williams). Roger has played every Grand Slam since 1999. That statistic alone is amazing."
On becoming a U.S. citizen in 1994:
"It was the happiest day of my life. Playing in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and representing our country was the biggest honor I’ve ever had. It surpasses all the tournaments I played in."

I was a novice tennis fan when Monica burst on the scene. I had been used to watching Chrissie and Martina, Gabriella and remember wondering who this kid was. I'm sure many younger fans can only imagine how intense the rivalry was between Monica and Steffi and how you were a fan of one or the other woman.

How high passions ran are symbolized by what happened in Germany. When you go to a major to watch the current crop of players and see all the security when a player enters or leaves the court you have to remember that this guy just walked up to Monica and stabbed her in the back. Conversations on fan boards get heated these days and maybe that's a good thing. We can virtually pummel each other and the players we don't like instead of trying to attack someone physically. If you get to a major and hang on the practice courts when a major star is around you see the security as well. Fans pushing and shoving to see their fave when he or she comes off the court may seem harmless to many fans. Unfortunately the player's security has to be taken into consideration first.

We are fortunate that someone of Monica's talent came along when she did. I don't think the image meisters of tennis would have allowed her to get the endorsements and publicity. She wasn't a babe, she wasn't rail thin, and her hair had a mind of it's own. It was all about the tennis.

In my opinion Monica was the greatest of her time because her effect on the game has lasted and made it impossible to go back to the genteel days of women's tennis. There were top players who did not play big babe tennis, Steffi Graf and Martina Hingis come to mind, but to me they were transitional greats. Their style of tennis won't get you past a first round in a Tier IV these days.

I hope Monica hangs around and decides to play an exho or two or three. I mean if Pete Sampras can still make millions playing exho's I don't see why Monica can't as well. I don't want to dictate to her what to do but it would be nice to see her on a court again.

Thank you Monica for all you gave this fan, and all of tennis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Heard Around 2/13/08

By Savannah

ATP News

Hold a small tournament and the world beats a path to your door these days. Not only is Roger Federer going to play Estoril as part of his road to Roland Garros but he is also playing Stockholm later in the year. Needless to say the Swedish tennis authorities are as pleased as punch over this since David Nalbandian is also going to play there. Looks like James Blake, who is normally one of the top seeds here and won this event in 2006 is going to have some big league company. If the Swedish reports are true that would have Roger playing four weeks in a row.
Roger To Play Stockholm

In more Roger news he’s said to be looking for a coach. The short list is rumored to include Paul Annacone and Darren Cahill. Annacone has dealt with Pete Sampras and Cahill just comes across as a man who will go toe to toe with you at the drop of a hat. I don’t think either man would take well to being told to pick up the balls off the court while Roger chit chats with a hitting partner do you?

Belgian player Dick Norman is saying that another player will be suspended and fined for gambling next week.
Norman said the following on his website:
“Anyway, next week another player will be suspended. He already told me he won't agree with the suspension and the fines and will appeal against them. Next week you'll probably read his name in the papers.”

The link is in Dutch but if you scroll down you will see a word that looks like “Italians". Using the Google translator it translates to the above statement.
Tennis Gambling
We’ll all have to wait and see won’t we?

Guillermo Coria won his first round match at Costa de Sauipe in Brasil. It’s his first tour win since 2006. Many fans have a very selfish motive for seeing Coria back to winning on the main tour and it has nothing to do with his tennis.

Gustavo Kuerten bid an emotional farewell to his fans in Brasil after losing his first round match to Carlos Berlocq at Costa de Sauipe

WTA News

Agnes Szavay and Alona Bondarenko were both upset in their first round matches at Antwerp. Szavay lost to qualifier Alisa Kleybanova in straight sets while Bondarenko went down to Julie Ditty of the United States 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Szavay didn’t’ appear to have much in the tank after her final against Anna Chakvetadze in Paris Sunday. Top seed Justine Henin doesn’t play until Thursday when she’ll face Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.

Three fans were thrown out of Antwerp for live betting on their laptops. If anyone has caught the live feed on you will know that this would make the cavernous arena more empty than it already is. But zero tolerance is zero tolerance.

Flavia Pennetta is doing the WTA blog from the newly minted Vina del Mar women’s event. I’m just sayin’…

Was Sania Mirza’s decision to boycott events in her native India a result of all the criticism she’s received there or poor advice from her managers? Indian fans say it was the result of tennis politics on the sub continent.

General Tennis News

Indian Wells and Miami will not be carried on ESPN. Fox News (FSN) will carry televised coverage of these important hardcourt events. Check your cable package now. I found out that I have a bunch of FSN channels. Who knew? Now to find out which one will be showing tennis.

Ilie Nastase resigned as head of the Romanian Tennis Federation after the press there reported suspicious overcharges to various vendors for providing services to the Romanian team during the recent Davis Cup tie against France. Romania failed to win a single rubber. Televised reports quote Nastase as saying he may leave his country for good.
Nastase Resigns

Pictures of the Week
Looks like Gasquet and Tsonga had big fun in Sibiu, Romania. Guess this puts all those innuendos about Gasquet to bed huh? I don't get the shirtless thing but maybe it's because I'm old and when I was hanging out guys kept their shirts on and had just as much fun?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Davis Cup Weekend 2/10/2008

by Savannah

Is there ever a Davis Cup weekend that doesn't bring the drama? Teams from every eligible country take the court to try and cement the victory that will make their country legendary or put their country into the conversation. There are always heroes and villains and as usual we have a motley crew.

One can be forgiven if they thought an up and coming Israeli team would pull out their tie against an aging Team Sweden. One would have been wrong. Jonas Bjorkman took the court in the fifth rubber against Harel Levy. Youth vs age. Easy call right? Wrong. Bjorkman, in a fifth set tiebreaker won it over the younger Mr. Levy. Youth was not served.

Jonas Bjorkman

Shamil Tarpishev brought in a team that originally featured Marat Safin against the team many thought would knock the Russians from their aerie. As it turned out the Russians didn't need their fan favorite. The Serbian men were decimated by flu like symptoms. While fans threw macchiata jokes around the Russians went about their business. Sunday saw Novak Djokovic taking the court against Nikolay Davydenko in a match that was predicted to be a tour de force for the young Serbian against the Russian man who has played under a cloud of controversy since last year.

It turned out not to be a match for the ages.
Djokovic turned out to be too sick to play and left the court giving the tie to Russia in what was a shocking turn of events for his fans.

Davydenko, the man who gets no respect for what he's done over the last few years by staying in the top five appears to have modestly accepted his, and ultimately his country's victory.

I guess this time luck was with Team Russia.

I must make special mention of John Lloyd and Team Britain. Andy Murray's stunning withdrawal at the eleventh hour left the Brits overwhelming underdogs against an Argentine team featuring David Nalbandian along with other Argentinian top players. The British team kept their heads up and fought as best they could. By the way Andy Murray has said he's available for the next round.

The Davis Cup Quarter Finals look like this. Good luck to everyone.

France vs United States
Russia vs Czech Republic
Argentina vs Sweden
Germany vs Spain

WTA - Gaz de France and Pattaya City

Aga Radwanska 2008 Pattaya City Champion

Chuang Chia-Jun and Chan Yung-Jan 2008 Pattaya City Doubles Winners

Anna Chakvetadze 2008 Open Gaz de France Winner

Black History Month
George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver (1864-1943), a former slave, botanist, agricultural chemist, artist, and member of the Royal Society of Arts, was dedicated to the advancement of Southern agriculture.

After overcoming the significant odds of growing up black after the Civil War, Carver managed to obtain a high school education, proceeded to Simpson College, Iowa, then attended Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) where he received a degree in agricultural science in 1894 and a master’s degree in 1896.

The brilliant scientist was shortly recruited at Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). Here Carver developed a crop rotation method which alternated soil-depleting cotton, corn, and tobacco crops with enriching ones such as peanuts, peas, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans. His experiments with these crops led to worldwide improvements and applications numbering in the hundreds in the form of foods (including peanut butter!), dyes, paints, adhesives, fuels, plastics, and many more.

Carver With Henry Ford 1930
A collaboration with Henry Ford produced synthetic rubber from goldenrod and automobile interiors and body panels from soy. Thomas Edison even tried to establish a partnership, leading to an offer of a handsome yearly salary, which Carver declined in order to continue to teach and carry out research at Tuskegee.

Had the petroleum industry not conspired to monopolize the basis for most industrial chemistry in the U.S., Carver’s low-impact and sustainable applications would be in more widespread use. As bio-based products gain greater prominence today in the face of heightened environmental awareness, Carver’s efforts may well lead the way back again - and away from petroleum dependency.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Heard Around February 7, 2008

by Savannah

That Racism/Ethnic Thing

There have been several stories percolating around tennis fan boards since the end of the Australian Open that bear some mention. All involve some form of racial or ethnic insensitivity.

  • The behavior of the Djokovic Family during the Australian Open Final was called classless by many observers. This included Novak’s behavior by the way. The discussion took a different turn when fans of Eastern European descent felt the attacks were part Western Europe’s disdain for the people of Eastern Europe. These fans protested the classification of the family’s behavior and deemed it at the least ethnic bias.
  • Israeli fans behavior during a Fed Cup tie between Israel and Russia where Israeli fans were a bit more “exuberant” than is usually seen during a tennis match was roundly condemned. When top Israeli player Shahar Pe’er seemed to be joining in the taunting of the Russian women her behavior was condemned as well. The Captain of the Russian team filed a complaint with the ITF over the entire situation. Conversation about the incidents degenerated into an Israel vs The World situation with Israeli fans saying the condemnations were anti Israeli not anti hooliganism.
  • Spanish players have pushed themselves to the forefront of questionable behavior. Fernando Verdasco was roundly criticized when during last years Roger’s Cup, faced with boisterous fans, asked if he was in Africa. Within the last couple of days a picture of the Spanish Fed Cup team surfaced showing the players, families and friends tugging at their eyelids imitating the eyes of Asian people. Spanish tennis fans say the women meant no harm. Most Asian posters disagreed. That several fans showed up at a F1 event in Barcelona in black face with “Hamilton’s Family” scrawled on their tee shirts didn’t help. Lewis Hamilton has been at loggerheads with Spain’s Fernando Alonso for a year. As I write this it’s unclear if Alonso stepped forward to condemn the “fans”.
  • A widely read American tennis blogger Peter Bodo posted a column comparing what is characterized as the calm cool demeanor and play of Northern European Roger Federer to what he classifies as the thoughtless, animalistic play of Rafael Nadal. Nadal is described as not using too much strategy when on court while Federer is described as a clinician, someone who is always thinking. Guess this guy doesn’t know much about clay court play where Nadal is a genius at constructing points, something American players seem to not be able to do too well. Someone who has made two Wimbledon finals, the latest after a three peat at the clay majors leading up to it, made the semi’s of Australia and won Indian Wells last year is simply an instinctual player according to this blogger. When was the last time an American, or a Brit for that matter, has done so well? Last I checked most of the Americans, even the one of color, are blessed with the intellectual genes of Northern Europe. The blogger also included Novak Djokovic in his pantheon of great Northern European players thus bringing us full circle.

But I digress. I’m not posting pictures or links to this stuff since it can be googled and easily found by visiting any of the big tennis fan sites all of which have (or had) large discussion threads on these topics. These incidents are not just part of tennis.

A call by a broadcaster on the Golf Channel for young golfers to “lynch” Tiger Woods in an alley was dismissed as a poor choice of words by the golf establishment and said to be nothing by Mr. Woods himself. This was followed by Golf Magazine featuring a hangman’s noose on its cover to push an article discussing the Golf Channel incident. The person responsible for that was fired. I don’t know Mr. Woods feelings on the magazine cover.

The Soccer establishment is struggling with racial and ethnic issues. Rafael Nadal joined other athletes in condemning racism in his beloved futbol and sport in general last year. But is it enough for athletes to speak out about issues that highlight troubling social issues?
What is a fan to do when speaking out on the behavior of other fans treads on territory that he/she barely knew existed? Are the fans who condemned the Djokovic’s behavior as well as the behavior of the Israeli fans ethnically biased or anti Semitic? What about the fans who, hearing that Serena Williams withdrew from Antwerp automatically assumed she was going to Super Bowl parties? Are they racially insensitive or just looking to stir up more anti Williams sentiment. Is there a difference in those motiviations?

Honestly I think people know when they’re pushing it. When a discussion of horrible fan behavior (and officiating) leads to posts condemning the religion of the fans don’t those people know what they’re doing? When posts condemning the antics of one family say that it’s “typical” behavior what are those “fans” trying to say? When a respected blogger posts about a players “animalistic” demeanor on court isn’t he responsible for an alleged tennis fan posting that said player is a “wild animal”? The above incidents actually occurred. Again I reference you to the major fan sites and Mr. Bodo’s blog for proof. I am not bringing this site down by linking to the posts or pictures.

Davis Cup

The men play Davis Cup this weekend. Funny how the pictures featuring the men are much more varied and don’t focus on one player. For more in depth Davis Cup coverage please visit Craig's blog. I'm doing the purty pictures.

Team Argentina

David Nalbandian and British Captain John Lloyd

Original Russian Team

Marat and Shamil

Team Britain

Peter Lundgren and Alex Bogdonovic

Team Spain

Tommy Robredo

Kristof Vliegen and Steve Darcis of Belgium

Team Romania

Team France

Team Austria

Team USA(Minus Bob Bryan)