Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden or BNPPO@IWTG

There are two pressers set for today that I know about. One is scheduled for 1p-2p local time and will feature Dinara Safina, Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka. That's eight players including one who has a shot at the number one ranking, for one hour. It'll be nothing more than a photo op because how can you do a real press conference with eight women?
Maybe they'll be wandering around and you can roll up on say, Dinara and try to get a feel for how she's approaching this tournament and handling the pressure on her. You might want to ask JJ if she sees herself moving forward and gaining momentum coming into this event. Elena has been the number two player so far this season in terms of on court performance. Does she see herself making a run at the top spot? Is Vera a dark horse to make the semi's? What has Ana done to improve her thinking on court? Does Sveta, who hasn't won anything in quite some time, see herself as still being in the elite eight at the end of the year? Aggie has been outspoken about the WTA Roadmap's short comings. Does she feel the WTA is now a two tiered tour? Victoria seems to be poised to make a run at the Big Babes. Where does she see herself at the end of the year? How each woman answers these basic questions could lead to a ton more but I can't see that happening with all of them in one space for such a short period of time. I guess the WTA is still pushing it's players as sexpots and not athletes.

The other presser involves Roger Federer. Just him. It's set to take place right after the women's photo op and to last an hour. I wonder how the questions will go? Reporter number one falls to his/her knees and after a few seconds of groveling asks about the crying thing. Reporter number two genuflects, looks for a ring to kiss and seeing none asks about the back. Reporter number three approaches on his/her belly pulling themselves along by their elbows. If you've ever seen film of Tibetan pilgrims going to Lhassa you know what I'm talking about. The reporter doing the Lakota Sioux sun ceremony in the back just gazes at the presence.
Security has to remove the people under the table trying to pull down Fed's sweats to get at the man's gonads. They don't go quietly.

Those who have not been struck dumb by being in the same room as the player ask about the tour, rankings, how to stop you know who, etc. etc. With all the carrying on no one quite gets around to asking if he is serious about a coach, what is going on with Cahill (Personally I don't think he and Darren match up personality wise. Darren would out his lights the first time he tried to turn him into his personal assistant and ball kid.) The first reporter, probably new to the beat, who asks what he's done to improve his game will be summarily executed at orders of the FedGod.
Oh come on I'm just kidding. It won't really be like that.

The Lawn Tennis Association

Every now and then I look across the pond to see what the Brits are up to. Right now it seems they're hell bent on actually improving their tennis. After what can only be called a disastrous Davis Cup showing against Ukraine the navel gazing has stopped and grenades are being tossed over the walls of the castle. They did look for boiling pitch but they just realized that went out of production a long time ago hence the grenades.

Andy Murray withdrew and the word was he had what the Brits call "glandular fever". Everyone else calls it mono. That proved not to be true but it left his team without it's top player. There seems to be a lot of talk about one Josh Goodall who managed not to win a set after playing two matches. I don't know anything about the young man but it seems rather harsh to put the weight on his shoulders unless of course he's being touted in British tennis circles as the next big thing.

At any rate Mark Petchey former coach of Andy Murray has posted an interesting article that seems to be taking a rocket launcher to the powers that be at the LTA. Here's an excerpt.
...The players are not to fault for the past weekend. The system is.

The time has come to disband the LTA in its present structure. In its place should be a group of about eight people who decide how best the money should be spent. In this group I would like to see Tim Henman, David Lloyd and Judy Murray. Not all the services and departments can be discarded, but the cost saving would be immense and would allow substantial investment in grassroots tennis. There would be job losses among administration staff as well as coaches, lower-ranked players would not be as well looked after but the money flowing into infrastructure at the grassroots level would ensure jobs away from the National Tennis Centre.

The substantial reduction in the cost to parents because of the investment in clubs would ensure a healthy flow of players taking up the game and staying in it. We simply have too few players. The reason is that tennis is still too expensive and for many parents it becomes a labour of love. The substantial increase announced recently in the number of juniors playing is more a quirk of giving younger kids a rating than an actual big increase. The kids were always there, they just weren't counted before.

The cost of coaching and travel, whether to a club or tournament, is the single biggest factor holding back British tennis and not enough is being done to improve the situation for parents.

I speak to too many parents whose kids enter events only to have them cancelled because of a lack of entries. These conversations are not figments of my imagination. These children are our tennis future and there are not enough of them competing at the frequency or level they need to.

As if this isn't enough the LTA is being taken to task for always saying it's players are "on track". No one was quite sure what that meant so someone asked Steve Martens, the new head of men's tennis at the LTA to explain.
“For us,” Martens said, "on track is a very interesting element to get a good quality philosophy about the way we build that pipeline (ie. how the LTA produces players). If we want to build that pipeline, we can do it with a clipboard and say ‘I think he's good, I think he's not so good’.

“We can also take the approach where you have the eye of the experienced people and their ability to spot talent, which is a continuous process - you keep on Talent ID-ing when players are 20 or 21, you have to back it up also with facts. The facts in tennis are actually pretty easy to get.
“So when we come to these [on track] figures, it is a element for us to give a view on where we are going to invest our resources. Technical support and also to show to the people, because it is clear that we are not working with all the players hands-on, ourselves.

Maybe English is not Mr. Martens first language but this sounds remarkably like the manure we Americans were fed the last eight years by "he who must not be named". Mr. Martens shoveled more manure that you can read HERE. Scroll down past the Kimmie story. I hope the USTA is paying attention. James Blake is close to thirty. Andy Roddick can't play forever. There are no women ready to fill the shoes of the Williams Sisters. This is your future playing out.

Meanwhile across the chunnel more questions are being asked about why Gael Monfils wasn't used by French DC Captain Guy Forget instead of Gilles Simon who had come down with the vapors. I'm reading about Monfils late arrival in France from Acapulco. I can understand that but he was available for doubles -Monfils and Tsonga would be an awesome DC doubles team - and Gael could've played the reverse singles match against Radek Stepanek. Of course I have no idea of what the politics are in French tennis so maybe Forget was fielding the team he was told to. If he wanted to win he could've used Gael who is now in the top ten.


Lawn Tennis Magazine has a nice piece on Mary Pierce. I was always a fan. reports the following:
Tennis Week Magazine Folds

Tennis Week Magazine has folded after 35 years of publication, has learned. Founded in 1974 by Eugene L. Scott, a former US Davis Cup player who was once ranked within the world top 15, the magazine was acquired by IMG in December of 2006, seven months after Scott’s death. It has been through a series of publishers since then and apparently, was unable to generate much cash, a big no-no when it comes to IMG’s philosophy of profit or perish. There is now word yet on whether its web site will continue to publish.

The official ATP World Tour site is making a big deal about the tricky draw facing Roger Federer. It ends with this sentence after reviewing the seeds in his quarter:
"Federer is a combined 28-1 lifetime against the quartet."

Note: The player in the top picture is Fernando Verdasco.


Karen Flax-Jardine said...

I have covered a couple of these WTA All access hour media conferences before. What they usually do is have each woman sit at a different table, one for each woman, and the reporters/photog hop from table to table asking questions and such. Usually the WTA PR folks are "hovering" around. Let's see if they stay with that format.

Let's guess which table will be the most crowded to begin with. My guess is Ana I.

Savannah said...

A speed dating format.

Thanks for the information Karen. It'll be interesting to see what happens at the Fed presser.

Savannah said...

I really do think it's unfair for the WTA to throw so many women at the press at one time.

I know everyone loves Ana but I'd rather talk to and hear what Dinara has to say.

Karen Flax-Jardine said...

Speed dating it is! LOL However some media members stay put and don't move on to the next "date" when they are supposed to. LOL