Saturday, September 15, 2012

Juan Carlos Ferrero Retires & Other Tennis News

by Savannah

“I remember that two years ago, Juan Carlos told me that he thought that with a few little adjustments in my game, I could win Roland Garros. I don’t think many more people thought that. [...] I wanted to come to the Juan Carlos Ferrero – Equelite Academy to rest and share this triumph with them, as they have always treated me fantastically and believed in me, as well as because of my friendship with Juan Carlos. On top of my family and my coach [Thomas Hogstedt], I would also like to thank my physio, Juan Reque, and the doctor Nacho Muñoz for the last few years, in which they have helped me overcome physical issues that threatened my tennis career.”

Maria Sharapova after completing her career grand slam by winning Roland Garros.

The more you think you know about tennis it always turns out that you don't know shit.

The above quote from Maria Sharapova was an "aha" moment for me. It explained why the United States tennis establishment went apoplectic about Maria not giving the American tennis establishment enough credit for the success she's had in her career.


I don't think Sharapova can ever not recognize the hard court training she got in Florida. She's never said she's not grateful to them. But to give praise to Juan Carlos Ferrero, the man who many, me included, think was screwed out of his legitimate chance of winning the 2003 US Open, probably stuck in their collective craw.

But this is not about Sharapova. This is about Juan Carlos Ferrero, a player who got run over by a bullet train out of Mallorca and suffered an adult case of chicken pox, both of which conspired to shorten and overshadow his career. By the time Juanqui returned to full health tennis, now a harder, more physical game, had passed him by.

I have to admit I was not a big fan of Juanqui even when his game was at its peak. Who knows why anyone becomes a fan of a particular player. I do know that his retirement is as big a deal as that of Andy Roddick's . They are from the same tennis generation and both weren't able to adjust albeit for different reasons.

Juan Carlos will retire after the tournament in Valencia. It seems to me he's already gotten started on life after tennis.

The Taylor Townsend Controversy


People are still holding USTA Player Development accountable. The US Open ended last Monday but this controversy has not died. Instead apologists for the USTA, some by paid employees, have now decided to come out with what can only be called laughable defenses of the US tennis establishment.

Serena Williams has a body that is bodacious in all respects. Totally dissimilar to most bodies on tour, men and women.

Williams' physique is shared with Taylor Townsend, a 16 year old African-American and the number 1 seed in the girl's juniors in singles. Taylor lost on Friday in the junior girl's US Open singles tournament, but won the US Open girls doubles title.

Like most of us, you would have thought nothing of Taylor Townsend's weight or race.

But you are not the USTA and Patrick McEnroe, at least as to weight.

We may feel that women are no longer classified differently than men, or that racial sensitivity is now practiced by almost everyone involved. This situation brings us back to reality.


Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA's player development program, confirmed that her expenses to and at the US Open were not paid by the USTA. His excuse was not low iron at the time. "Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player," said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA's player development program. "We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in [Arthur Ashe Stadium] in the main draw and competing for major titles when it's time. That's how we make every decision, based on that." McEnroe also claimed there had just been a miscommunication.


Could you have gotten to the quarterfinals of the US Open girls championship or the semifinals of the doubles if you had the weight of Patrick McEnroe and his USTA on top of you every game you played in addition to your own? Knowing that you were being penalized for your weight if not your race?

Probably not. But Taylor did.

Surely, both racial and sexual sensitivity would have dictated a different approach.

But as the Townsend situation shows us, Patrick McEnroe and the USTA do not share this sensitivity. In fact, their position remains both insensitive and appears indefensible.

So far the only disclosure of a health problem comes from, which claims that Townsend required a doctor's approval to play due to "low iron." And although Matt Cronin, a principal writer for, said that this was the reason, it apparently had nothing to do with the decision to ask Townsend not to participate in other tournaments.

The issue of whether the USTA's player development group run by McEnroe is racist has been raised in the past. The Williams former coach Morris King Jr. has made this claim, including by reference to his inability to get a response from them concerning coaching applications.

As for the USTA’s High Performance/Player Development department, I have been rejected for national coach positions at least a dozen times over the years. How did I learn that I was rejected? Because I am not there. That’s how I have always found out. They have never informed me through any type of communication.

Lest you believe that Morris King is just a nut, read his statements and verify them.

King pointed to the USTA's defense of several suits that have alleged race discrimination as a sign of discrimination at the USTA.

These have included the following: Zina Garrison's discrimination lawsuit for her dismissal as the Fed Cup coach which was settled by the USTA, the settled Cecil Hollins case brought by the one out of thirty or so top chair umpires claiming discrimination against black chair umpires because he had been the only one, and the resulting New York Attorney General investigation that was settled though an Assurance of Discontinuance with the USTA.


But given the way Serena has always looked, how can you successfully apply any weight exclusion on any player? Especially because, despite millions in expenditures to develop any top ranked player over the past five or six years, the USTA under Patrick McEnroe has failed in their task and one success they have had is told to stay home and not compete.

That McEnroe's claim that weight was the reason appears to be a false claim based on Townsend's experience at the Australian Open this year. Taylor Townsend was in both the Australian Open girls' singles and doubles, toiling well into the night, where McEnroe was present as a TV commentator.

Click here for more of Cliff Potter's article. Talk about calling the baby ugly.

And now for the "Ain't Nobody's Business" Files for the past week.

Just a girl and her coach.
Just a girl and her coach celebrating a win

...looking at real estate ads
Just a girl and her coach.

I've read all the rumors. I've read all of the discussion. Both of the people involved are adults. Serena has had an apartment in Paris for a few years now. Am I wrong to think that some are looking for any reason to hate on Serena Williams after that 0 & 1 beat down of Maria Sharapova? All the people screaming at the top of their lungs about the morality of the situation - things like this happen in Europe all the time where Puritanical beliefs don't hold sway, and those whispering about "another white man" may, or may not, have the same agenda. Hence the filing of this under the "ain't nobody's business files." The late French President Francois Mitterand's long term mistress attended his funeral where his wife was also present. The two stood side by side at his grave. What was that statement "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?"
To the left haters. To the left.

The WTA and The Media

I'm used to the Pollyanna-ish statements that come out of the WTA about attendance, depth of the women's tour, etc. The one about the WTA's contract with Eurosport being allowed to expire and the tour's signing with MCSTV is interesting.

The complete press release is HERE

Of course this could affect access to live streams for those of us who suffer regional blackouts from paid service and rely on live streams to see European tour events. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.


Randy Burgess said...

Okay, since we're talking tennis bodies . . . the way Serena moves her big body around the court has often reminded me of another big body - not as talented, to be sure, but similarly surprising in hiding exquisite deftness beneath superficial clumsiness: namely, Ivan Ljubičić.

Wikipedia (which I trust more than the ATP site) lists Ljubičić as 6'4" and 200 pounds. He was a hefty sized man, and even today he'd be considered so.

Ljubičić was so awkwardly big that at times he seemed to totter around the court as if running on eggshells, or about to slip on banana peels. Yet when he was playing well, he could hit his one-handed backhand just where he wanted it, like Robin Hood shooting an arrow. That sweet backhand, his sound court sense, and a powerful first serve let him reach as high as #3 in the world at one time. His sole Masters title came when he beat Andy Roddick at Indian Wells in 2010, and even though Andy was on the decline, it was still a nice win.

So - back to Serena. Ljubičić's awkward ballet steps and ballastic serve sometimes come back to me when I watch her play. She is a champion where he never was; but she too is BIG and even more powerful than he was. And sometimes clumsy-seeming, too: when she's having a bad day and not moving to the ball, she can look downright flat-footed.

And yet to see Serena blast a wickedly clean return winner past someone as good as an Azarenka, and then express her delight by spinning about on one foot as delicately as a dancer on stage, is to realize how little bigness matters when it comes to success on a tennis court. Any size body will do. What matters is heart & nerve & skill.

P.S. Yes, yes, she is a babe, too. I'll grant you that. But I don't watch women play tennis for their looks. Sharapova is a babe also, but her game is as boring as Serena's is exciting.

Savannah said...

You won't get an argument from me about Ljubicic. You know I'm a RafaKad so Ljubo was never on my list of must see BUT you are totally correct.

But Ljubo was FIT! Big bodies can be fit and I think that's what PMac is missing here. Jack Sock IS NOT FIT! He looks like the Pillsbury dough boy. If you're not familiar just Google or Bing for an image. I had more of an issue with Sock this past Open than I did with Taylor who moves with grace on the court.

I think most of us who are on PMac's case about Taylor's treatment have no issue with her getting more fit. It's HOW you do things. He's berating a child, a girl of 16. I'm sure if this was one of his daughters he'd be outraged.

And what people are forgetting is that it is former players who stirred this pot, not bad intentioned bloggers. It makes me think that Linds and later Martina once she defected had problems with the USTA and that they don't want another young woman to go through the same thing.

Randy Burgess said...

Savannah, speaking about players having issues with the USTA, did you catch Jon Wertheim's column of Sept. 10 titled "50 parting shots from U.S. Open?" You can find it at at this URL:

Anyway, I forget whether it was in your blog or in Craig's that there was a discussion about how wrong it was for the McEnroe brothers to be commentating on the match between Federer and Donald Young. Wertheim has picked up on the issue and he does not mince words. To quote from his column:

"The notion of the McEnroe brothers commenting on Donald Young is akin to letting the Van Gundy brothers commentate on Dwight Howard's first game as a Los Angeles Laker. (If not Roger Goodell reviewing Jonathan Vilma's BBQ restaurant.) Simply waaaaay too much personal history there. As one Canadian journalist tweeted right away: 'PMac doing a DYoung match one of those incestuous tennis things that should never happen. 2hr platform to rip him w/o defence. #cantlisten.'"

John I can forgive to some extent - and Wortheim agrees with me - but putting Patrick in place to comment on that match was a huge programming error on ESPN's part. He is the USTA's "general manager of player development," so the conflict of interest is obvious and gigantic. And yet ESPN continues to insist it's okay. As Wertheim asserts, this sort of conflict is all too common and needs to be reined in.

Savannah said...

You know John McEnroe used to do good commentating. I'm thinking he's got a lot on his plate with all the kids and what have you but there is absolutely no excuse for his being totally unprepared to discuss the men and women on the court. He's always had disdain for women's tennis but now it's as if he can't be bothered to keep up with anyone male or female.

That said I'm glad an established name like Wertheim is starting to speak out on the incestuous nature of commentating in the US. If the McEnroe's had any shame they would've bowed out of that DYoung match. That they didn't speaks volumes.

Thanks for the link Randy.

Karen said...

I remember tweeting during that Fed/Young match as well. At one point I could not believe that they did not see anything wrong with what they were doing, especially Patrick.

As for the Townsend issue, it really makes you wonder what is really going on in the USTA Player Development programme.

As for Serena, as someone who is from the Caribbean where extra-marital affairs are quite common, if indeed that is what is happening. She looks happy and as a fan that is all I can ask. She is a grown ass woman and she is free to do whatever she wants to do. Haters need to take their smug ass hypocritical moral self to the left

Savannah said...

I wonder if the big deal is that he is European and she is African American?

I hang out on a lot of fan boards for television series and you'd be surprised at the reaction of people, especially young people, to interracial couples. You expect it from people my age but it's still kind of surprising to run into it from young people.

These sort of things - affairs if you will - happen all the time. People like to pretend they don't.