Sunday, August 16, 2015

WTA Generation Next Steps Into the Spotlight

by Savannah

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America photo 74881e88-114c-44e6-a410-d56111eefcb0_zps7fdyg3xh.jpg
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America

Well we could talk about the WTA's generation next but last nights loss by Serena Williams to Belinda Bencic was really about generation past. Luckily I could avoid the babbling idiots on ESPN who seemed to be taken aback by the Romanian community's embrace of its own Simona (SI-MO-NA)Halep something that every other tennis fan and commentator outside of the US has gotten used to and expects and watched the match on TennisTV where Vladka Uhlirova was working with a man named "Errol". I never got his surname.

Anyway during the commentary Errol kept mentioning Hingis. That's right. Martina Hingis, in his mind, was out there playing Serena Williams. At least they're honest on TennisTV. The entire rise of Bencic, nasty attitude and temper aside, has been shadowed by her coaching situation. Her father is the one who comes down and speaks in what I guess is their native Slovakian to his daughter but when Bencic did something well it was Hingis face that got shown almost as much as his. Oh and don't forget Melanie Molitor. She's right up there in mentions with her daughter.

Serena made no excuses last night and I'm not here to give her any. I think this was a strategic loss, and a good one. Let's see what she does re Cincinnati (well Mason, Ohio). And while we do that let's not forget Caroline Wozniacki's justifiable tirade against the WTA. There are many reasons Serena can't say it but Sunshine can and did.
In case you missed what she said (and I'm sure the WTA is glad there was a lot of other breaking news last week in tennis) here is her quote .

“I haven't practised for a week because I wanted to make sure that I was 100 per cent healthy,” said Wozniacki, the fifth seed and former world No. 1. “I went out there and actually my leg and my back (are) feeling pretty good, so that's good. But today was the first time that I've practised for a week. Normally I want to be able to play up to my best tennis and you're not going to do that if you don't practise.

“But the rules if you're a top-10 player are so that this was my commitment tournament and you're forced to play. If you don't, you get huge money fines. You get zero points to your ranking. Plus, they wouldn't allow me to play small tournament in this half of the year, which is crazy. I've been on the players’ council for a long time and I'm not anymore because these rules are things that players complain about all the time, but we can't do anything about it.”

But back to Generation Next in the WTA. The good thing is whatever sledging they do remains behind the locker room doors. Other than that they're a bland lot of blondes who tend to be very fit and play technically strong games. With the final in Toronto being between Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic it's going to be interesting to see what narrative emerges for these ladies. Halep has no history with the Hingis family so that story line is useless. We know what they're going to say about Bencic, who looks eerily like a young Monica Seles, already.

What I'll be looking for is Halep's ability to make her style of play a viable follow up to the Williams era. She can play very good tennis at times but it's no secret that she crumbles when she has to face Maria Sharapova. Pova wins their matches by just stepping on court. Sharapova, a few years younger than Serena is probably salivating at the thought of playing Halep in majors after 2016.

Will Bencic be able to stifle the creativity of Halep? Will Halep dent the confidence of Bencic? Will Bencic be able to adjust her game and force Halep to scramble? Let's not forget that it was the Williams who drove Hingis out of tennis. She just couldn't compete. When they retire it would be sad to see women's tennis go backwards and the style of tennis brought to the world by the above mentioned Monica Seles, fade.

I know that the level of competition will fall though. The young women coming up are so dependant on on court coaching and now that idiotic tablet app for the coaches I'm sure the WTA will push harder to get the ITF to agree to on court coaching in Slams. That's the only way some of these young women will ever win one. Halep, who is now working with Darren Cahill, seems committed to making the next step. Let's see what she does on the big stage today.

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