Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Of Rain Delays, Double Standards and Greed

by Savannah


***All Play for September 6 has been cancelled***

I've been at the NTC on a rainy day. Martina Hingis was one of the few players practicing in the rain and it was all around miserable. The announcement that day session play had been suspended and that tickets were good the next day was made at 5p. The USTA did all it could to try and avoid having to honor the tickets for the rain out.

I bring that up because the forecast in NYC is for rain and lots of it until Sunday. That's right, Sunday. This is the USTA's worse nightmare for several reasons. Davis Cup play starts next weekend for one. People who have saved to come to the second week of the US Open will be forced to return home to jobs and families. It also highlights the fact that not one of the NTC's showcourts has a roof.
Not even the new Court 17.

I expect any minute now some suit from the USTA will say no one could've anticipated a week of rain. I hope tennisheads call bullshit since the remnants of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Lee have been steadily making its way to the North East and New York City. Sporting events make regular use of long term forecasting so when some intern is forced to go before the cameras to read a statement saying "no one ever expected" pity the intern and rail at the USTA for shortsightedness and stupidity regarding it's show courts. The official line is that Ashe is too big and it's borders too irregular to make adding a roof cost effective. What about the Ashe/Grandstand complex folks?

I know. I'm beating a dead horse again. But it has to be said by someone.

Double Standards

"Golden Girls" fans are familiar with these words.
"Picture this, New York City, 2011". A top tennis player suffers a severe cramp during his post match presser with the Spanish language press. He slides to the floor to help ease the pain. Twitter goes wild as the initial reports say only that there was an "incident" following reports of the player collapsing and speculation that he'd suffered a seizure in some quarters.

Now picture the WTA #1 ranked player coming into her post match presser last evening and mocking the player who had suffered the cramp. That would never happen you say? It did.

Now let's get real. If another player, say Serena Williams for example, did something like this the tennis media would be up in arms. What if, as James LaRosa asked, gasp, Maria Sharapova did what "Sunshine" did? I'm not saying she'd be dragged through the streets like Serena would be but there would be an uproar.
Instead apologists are saying that mystery reporters egged Wozniacki on. This point of view assumes that the egging on was done by those damn bloggers again (forgetting that the US Open rarely if ever gives accreditation to bloggers) or that the WTA #1 is a simpering idiot who does whatever she's told to do and doesn't know when she's being led into a trap.

Side by side with this is Mardy Fish' behavior during his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tom Perrotta reported the incident in the Wall Street Journal.

Earlier in the match, Tsonga had complained that someone in the crowd, seemingly near Fish’s guest box, was screaming at him. As the match got away from Fish, he complained to chair umpire Carlos Bernades about noise in Tsonga’s box. Fish was blunt about why he couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“I don’t speak French, you dumb—,” he said to the umpire.

Tsonga and Fish shook hands and spoke at the net after the match, and both said there was nothing between them.

“I probably shouldn’t have said that,” Fish said. “We were fired up.”

“With Mardy, it’s all the time friendly,” Tsonga said. “It’s good.”
I guess being the top ranked American player means you can say whatever you want to whomever you want and pay no consequences. Again, picture the outrage if Serena had said this to a chair umpire. Incandescent would be the proper word to use about press reaction.

I'm trying to avoid saying anything about the scheduling for this US Open but they're making it hard not to. The best matches of the tournament have been on Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand. The gyrations that went into not putting the Samantha Stosur vs Maria Kirilenko match on Ashe make a game of Twister look like nothing. Yet fans were tweeting that people were high tailing it out of Ashe to see the match.

Then there's the schedule for today, September 6. First up, Donald Young's match. Third on Ashe is - wait for it - the Mixed Doubles semi final featuring the team of Melanie Oudin and Jack Sock. Yep. The women's quarter finals are on - I give you one guess. And the USTA wonders why it's so hated. All national tennis organizations try and favor their own players but the USTA goes out of it's way to insult and demean the stars of the sport who are not named Roger Federer. Some of his fans were screaming for his match to be moved to Armstrong last night. As if. The man himself wouldn't have agreed to that move. I've always found that fandoms know their beloved. I was really surprised that The Monogram's fans thought he'd deign to play on Armstrong.

End Note

Still no commentary on air about the CVAC other than to mention that John Isner and Christina McHale have used it. If you haven't please read the comment by "readyplay" about WADA rules. I agree with the conclusion. The Pod meets 2 out of 4 criteria for being banned. I'm going to leave it at that.

Caroline Wozniacki was using some kind of gizmo during her match against Svetlana Kuznetsova last night that no one in the booth had ever seen before. I understand that on ESPN Deportes the comms were saying it was a cell phone like device to receive messages on. ESPN2 comms said it was something to measure string tension. Little brown bottles, mysterious devices? CVAC's? Insulting chair umps? It's not what's done it's who does it.


TennisAce said...

I understand that Nadal's camp lobbied hard to ensure that Rafa did not play on any of the outside courts. Dimensions of the court were too small.

As for the Woz thing, it is interesting that once she started using it, she started to play better, or is it that Sveta started to play even worse. Who knows. All I know is that at 6-5 in the second when Sveta got broken, I turned off the tv and went to read a good book.

I have no sympathy for Stosur and Kiri. You know why. Years ago when Venus put her foot down in Australia when she was asked at the 99th hour, fans were of the view that she should have agreed to move. They ripped her into it. Reading what Stosur had to say about the lack of communication between the players and the USTA about the move, I can see why the officials could not give a rat's ass as to whether they played their match or not. Except for Venus and to a lesser extent Serena most of the women on Tour have no clue what it means to stand up for themselves. Once they know how to do this then I will feel sympathy for them. Until then, they can put them in the parking lot for all I care.

Diane said...

This makes me think of James Blake, too, who repeatedly "explained" that he could do nothing about the J-Block's constant disruption of his opponents' play. Blake was given a pass, of course.

marcoforehand said...

the device Woz was using is a ERT 300. It's used to measure "dynamic tension". It would give her information regarding the string tension for each racquet. Retail cost is about $160.
My own view was she was making excuses. Who knows, maybe she convinced herself, maybe she convinced the other side that her performance was related to string tension. But it's NOT an unfair advantage.

Savannah said...

Thank you for the information marcoforehand.