Friday, March 21, 2008

Sometimes you just hafta laugh: The idiocy of FSN

And I thought they'd outdone themselves with the Tsonga v. Nadal match "coverage."
Last night, FSN showed the Jankovic v. Davenport match at around midnight and Davenport withdrew with an injury after the first set. So, when it ends, they go to commercial, and when they come back, they show the last game again -- an immediate replay!! Why? It wasn't particularly pretty watching Davenport floundering around, and obviously struggling. For a second, I thought they were going to replay it over and over until 1 a.m., but it finally occurred to them to put Ivanovic v. Zvonareva on the air.
Really, FSN. Do you watch your own network?
The commentary was also especially horrendous, and I'm not exaggerating. How about Barry Whoever's comment about Davenport when she quit. "Now that's not just someone quitting. She's hurt." Whew. Your powers of observation, Barry Whoever, are extraordinary. You should become a seeing-eye dog.
Then there's Chanda Rubin. She says, "This is a new injury for Davenport. She's never had back trouble before."
Really, expert commentator? Davenport's had back trouble all her career. And she's a former tennis player, folks. Chanda, have you considered taking a job in television behind the scenes?
This is, by far, the worst tennis tournament coverage I've ever seen. I swear, I'm about to turn to racquetball on the Tennis Channel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Well, well, well ... look who's using their brains

The WTA is going to broadcast the women's final in Indian Wells on its Web site for free -- in some countries. The U.S. is not one of them, nor are European countries, nor Australia, nor Japan, because, presumably, these countries are already airing it.
Anyway, this is huge, only because the WTA has seemed at a loss at how to market its brand. The idea is way overdue. I've said it before: With personalities like the Williamses, Jankovic, Sharapova and such, there's no reason women's tennis should be lagging in popularity the way it is. I'm not going to speak to the quality of women's tennis right now (Yes I will. It sucks.), but really, every other sport markets its stars. And even if you have to give it away for free at first, at least people are seeing it. Now, all they have to do is make sure that people know about it. Hope they've thought of that, and have the smoke signals ready.
So, what can women's tennis do to boost its popularity and to market its stars? Let's hear some ideas, fans.

P.S.: A rant on why Fox Sports will never be ESPN or even the Tennis Channel. So, I tune in yesterday at 4 p.m. to watch Nadal vs. Tsonga. I mean, NADAL VS. TSONGA! I'm jacked. Can Nadal beat him? Is Tsonga a flash in the pan? I tune in and it's entertaining right out of the shoot.
So, commercial break. Fine, because those commentators are irritating hell out of me. Fine. Wait. Huh? A special news report? Yes. The press conference with the West Virginia basketball team and its coach. Yeah, in Pittsburgh. Nice. Question: Who cares? Next question: When are we getting back to the tennis?
Well, about twenty-five minutes later, they're back to the match, and I'm still a bit pissed, but fine. The tennis is good. It's pretty good. It's almost 6 p.m., the end of the coverage window, but I'm confident that they'll at least finish the set, for crying out loud. So it's 5 all and Nadal's about to serve, and ...
... A hairy guy with no teeth lacing up ice skates. The Penguins' hockey game. Which is fine. I understand that you have to cater to the four people who like hockey. (Make that five, says one of my coworkers.) It's on the schedule and all. But, there was no warning, no announcement that they'd be switching off, no regard for the fact that the set is tight and that it's almost over. Nothing. And that's the difference between a real television network and some hokey station being run out of someone's basement.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reality check?

So, what do retired tennis players do?
Monica Seles is gonna keep it real. She's making her "Dancing with the Stars" debut tonight.
I may have to lift my ban on "reality" TV to check this out. She shouldn't have a problem with footwork, that's for sure. If you watch, don't forget to put your TV on mute when she comes out.
Sheesh, how about the lineup for this season? Steve Guttenberg? Adam Carolla? Those are just the names I recognize, folks. Oh, and down the street are tryouts for Three More Men, a Baby and a Farm Animal.
Yikes. So this is where the Washed Up Club meets. And they're letting Monica hang out with them. One difference: She actually worked for a living -- and was good at her job.
Hey, if you dare to watch, post your impressions of Monica.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Platform tennis? I liked it better when it was called "racquetball".

Yes, women's tennis is a bit weak. There's no question. But just in case there was, just ask the Tennis Channel. Because when you're split-screen a women's final with a platform tennis match, things are bad. Bad.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another Tennis Channel memo

Dear Tennis Channel:

Do not ever put the terms "bonus coverage" and "Wii tennis" in the same phrase again. If you don't have any tennis to put on the air, then why don't you air another "Center Court" episode or, better yet, one of those "Hip-Hop Abs" infomercials? Yes, that's better than Corina Morariu doing commentary on a video game. And it's better than watching some hacks playing platform tennis. The next time I hear Morariu say, "We'll get back to the tennis in a moment, but first ...," it had better be good.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hey ... Fed!

Word is that Jimmy Connors and Andy Roddick are splitsville. Too soon, I say. I was really hoping Roddick would rock that bowl haircut with enough peer pressure.
Although they quit each other a week ago, I like how Andy Roddick decided not to disclose this until after he beat the tar out of Rafa Nadal in Dubai today. Nice move, waiting for a good win to put that out there. Fortunately, Roddick didn't need to wait as long as usual for a quality win. To paraphrase Roddick at his presser: "See, I don't need a coach. I got game."
We'll see about that. Roddick credits Connors with getting a fire in his belly again and retooling his backhand. In the same conversation says he's not worried about not having a coach. Says he can play well if he can "set his mind to it." You know, I don't see the makings of someone mentally solid enough to make it for too long without a coach. Nadal's a big win for Roddick, but Nadal's been iffy lately. If he can beat someone like Novak Djokovic, who's in great form these days, now that would be something.
And part of me just can't wait to see Andy Roddick at the French Open without a coach. Not that it's made much of a difference in past years. It's still going to be funny to watch him flip out on the reporter who asks him whether he thinks he needs a coach after a first-round loss.
So here we go again: Who do you think would be a good coach for young Andrew? And what do you think about Fed/Connors?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Oh, Fed.

I'm not one of those who acts like every time Roger Federer loses, it's the end of his world. Andy Murray, who beat him in three tight sets in Dubai today, isn't a shabby player, either.
However ... and how do I say this gently? Perhaps finding a coach ought to be moved up on Federer's "Things to do" list. All the way to the top, preferably. Maybe should be the title of the list.
Really, Rog, how much longer do you think you'll be able to fend off all the contenders, who, by the way, usually have the benefit of at least one coach telling them how to beat you? Except Murray, of course, who probably has Brad Gilbert still ringing in his head anyway.
So, who do you think would be a great coach for Federer? Gilbert? (Ha.) Darren Cahill? Ooh, or Billie Jean King? Drop me a line, folks.

P.S.: OMG! I just opened the ATP's Web site, and that damn 'Feel it' logo at the top just scared the crap out of me. Who the hell's that guy behind Borg (I think) with the dark hair? He looks like a torture victim.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Rubber Open

Sometimes, it's the smallest thing: the court, the surroundings, the crowd. It's why Pete Sampras racked up seven Wimbledon titles, and a slightly lower number of French Open titles. Like none, actually.
That's why my doubles partner and husband (yeah, it actually works!) and I decided to take our show on the road. No doubt, the 'burgh has been very, very good to us, but together, we're about 0-349 in tournaments. We're both 3.5 players, but usually have to play in open draws if we want to play together. However, since it's open, we could run into a college player (and sometimes two) in the second round. I don't think I have to tell you how that generally turns out.
Anyway, we set out to find a tournament that, essentially, we could win. We've actually done this before, too. There was South Carolina a couple years back. Ha. I think the courts there were made of the stuff they make superballs with. And then there was West Virginia, where we lost in the semis to a guy serving from a tree and a woman who chirped "C'mon!" about three times -- per point.
This time, it was Akron, Ohio, home of the rubber. I mean rubber, like tires. Sorry. Of course, you never know how things'll turn out in a visitor's court. But when we walked into the Towpath Tennis Club and saw this --

you realize this could be your kind of club. Way to feel pretty, Maria.
This was a one-day tournament, and we'd definitely had our hands full.
Our first round was, um, interesting. We started at 11 a.m., and we're not really morning people. That still counts as morning. My husband basically played like crap, and for once, I was the more solid player on our team, although not by much. The woman on the opposing team had a cream-puff serve that Jerry couldn't return for some reason. We lost the first set in a tiebreak, and we noticed that at the beginning of the second set, the woman started off serving.
Jerry whispered to me, "Why's she serving first?" Before I could answer him, he hit his serve return into the net. "Do you know why now?" I answered.
Jerry did get his game going, and basically, what that means for him is that he's hitting people with overheads. We barely won the second set, by breaking the serve of the guy, surprisingly. Then there was the stupid-tiebreak. It's still stupid, even though we won it.
Our second round match might have been the best we'd played together. Remember what I said about Jerry getting his game going? Well, he managed a first, as far as I'd ever seen. He hit an overhead at our male opponent, which bounced off the court, and into said opponent's, er, jewels. (Fortunately, he's already got four kids.) When Jerry asked him if he was all right, he said, "I will be." Now, ladies, especially mixed doubles ladies, I ask you: What does that comment mean to you? If you said, "Time to watch your face," you'd be wrong. Dude never came at me, and at the end of the match, I found out why. This guy thought I was the better player on the team! If I hadn't hit a couple good shots early, I would still be pulling ball fuzz from my teeth.
So on to the final. For the trophy, we came up against a strong female player and a talented lefty who was playing his fourth match of the day already. I can't stand playing lefties. We played a very tight first set, only to have our opponent double-fault on our set point. Glad to see it, too, because I played the worst match of the day. We managed to wrap it up in two sets, and Jerry didn't do too much damage. Just a kidney shot to the lefty.
Basically, we left with a trophy, and our opponents left with bruises. That's really how you want to get your first tournament.