Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hunh. I would have guessed cocaine.

So, the top eight women in the world (now minus Dinara Safina with a back injury) are battling it out in Doha. Venus and Serena Williams just finished a heckuva match with a lot of great hitting and entertaining points, especially at the end.
But, really. Who cares about that?
So Andre Agassi used meth while he was playing tennis! As far as autobiographies go, it's no Mackensie Phillips-sized revelation, but this is a pretty big deal and not for the reason one might think.
Yes, Agassi is a role model and he ought to be ashamed of himself and his image (which is everything, remember) might take a hit. But, hey, it's the bombshells that sell books, not being a philanthropist who came back from being 141 in the world all the way back to 1 and winning "the" Grand Slam. Go figure.
The real question for me is why it took 12 years for this to see the light of day. The man failed a drug test while playing pro tennis. His excuse? His assistant, a drug user, used to put meth in his soda and Andre accidentally had a swig of Meth-Dew. That, and an apology, apparently was the end of that.
Really? I thought Richard Gasquet's line for testing positive for cocaine was lame.
And how is it that the Martina Hingises and Gasquets of the world are exposed the second their drug tests come up dirty and Agassi tests positive for meth ... and all is quiet on the drug-testing front. Is there a double standard? If Roger Federer or Serena Williams test positive for drugs, would we ever know about it? If that positive test had come up, it might have derailed Agassi's career, and tennis, the business, would have taken a hit. Is that a consideration these days?
Put plainly, is there some sort of double standard for athletes who are doping? If there's not, then the drug-testing policy is pretty lame. If you can tell folks you kissed a girl who had cocaine-crusted lips or that you drank some meth juice -- and it works -- that's a problem, too.
Really, the only way tennis looks good here is if we find out that Agassi made this up to move some books. It'd make his fans feel better, and it would also hold out hope that Mackensie Phillips is telling lies, too. Because that's just disturbing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The TWA Crystal Ball

I don't think Andy Roddick's really injured. Come on -- one day he's complaining about the long tournament schedule, the next he pulls up lame doing almost nothing on court. Grow up, dude and get back on that calendar! One month is puh-LENTY of time off!
Seriously, though. Seems like the fastest way to get the powers that be to do something about that calendar is to make them travel all over the world and play from January to November -- in their work shoes! Now we're talking.
This annual debate begs the question -- what if the players went on strike to protest the effed-up tennis calendar? Hmm ...

The top ten male and female tennis players, in a rare move, call a press conference in Belgium. (Because that's where all the interesting press conferences have happened lately.) They announce that neither they nor their fellow players will play on their respective tours or any Grand Slams until the tennis heads come up with a schedule players like AND they want full input! Just days before the Australian Open, the ATP, WTA, ITF and other three-letter organizations quickly sit down with the twenty players. When TPTB tell the players to wait for a few more years to get it settled, the players, led by Roger Federer and Serena Williams declare a strike! Serena brandishes a racquet, but because she's on strike, she can't be fined.
Organizers are forced to cancel the Australian Open and disappointed fans lash out at the players for not entertaining them. Elena Dementieva announces that she married her hockey-player boyfriend and that she is pregnant. Maria Sharapova appears on David Letterman to talk up the players' viewpoint and appeal for fan support for their plight. Letterman asks Sharapova if she's ever considered becoming a model.

The Indian Wells and Miami tournaments scramble to rustle up some tennis players so the show can go on. Charlie Pasarell, the organizer of the Indian Wells tournament, even apologizes to the Williams sisters and offers to allow them to play that semifinal from 2001 in an empty stadium. It's a no-go. The Sony Ericcson tournament continues on -- as a table tennis tournament. Some 10-year-old from Texas who's on vacation in Florida wins. Maria Sharapova poses for the covers of Vogue, Glamour and SI for Women.

Rafael Nadal announces that instead of the playing the French Open, he will instead make his debut on WWE Raw to launch his wrestling career. He will be known as The Conquistador. In his first match, The Undertaker gets the drop on The Conquistador when he takes a second to pull out a wedgie from his very uncomfortable one-sie.
Halfhearted attempts from players to negotiate with tennis officials mean they won't be playing the French anyway. Hemorrhaging money, officials meet with tournament organizers around the world and finally offer the players an eight-month tennis schedule, with fewer required tournaments. Federer, whose wife is expecting again, tells them his people would call their people. Andy Roddick signs with the New York Yankees.

Peyton and Eli Manning grace the cover of Tennis magazine, under the headline "Five Other Sports Out There." At the top of the list is table tennis, which has gained in popularity since the Miami tournament. The 10-year-old, who's now 11, is touted as the youngest table tennis champion ever. Table tennis officials consider setting a minimum age for players to join the pro tour, hoping to head off any Mountain Dew dependency problems in the future.
The Outback tour takes over at the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon, and in the final, Pete Sampras beats John McEnroe in straight sets. McEnroe breaks four racquets and swears at a line judge in the first set, but because there are few other options, officials let it slide. The next month, Venus Williams wins the U.S. Women's Open -- in golf. It's her first golf tournament. Michelle Wie doesn't make the cut.

Bud Collins speculates that players are purposely holding off on an agreement with TPTB in order to get an entire calendar year off. When asked about this, Federer, reached at home and shouting over screaming children, offers a terse "No comment" in response. When he's asked what he thinks about the officials' proposal, Fed says he's trying to organize a meeting with the players, but it's "tough with their schedules." Sharapova appears in the soap opera "All My Children." She plays an injured tennis player who misses an unnamed major tournament held in Queens, lands in Pine Valley and falls in love with Tad Martin, who is now 60, but still hot.

Federer and Serena Williams hold a joint press conference with tennis officials to announce that the players have agreed to the new schedule. Only Bud Collins is present. The rest of the sports world has its eye on the year-end table tennis championship in Shanghai. In a major upset, the 11-year-old wunderkind loses in the quarterfinals after showing up with a yellowed tongue and, according to a spectator, "hopped up on sugar." Andy Roddick is suspended from the Yankees, who are in the World Series, after an altercation in the locker room with Alex Rodriguez.

March 2011:
The Australian Open begins at its newly scheduled time and Roger Federer and Serena Williams are seeded first. Fans demand to get in for free because of last year's debacle and organizers refuse. Millions of tennis fans nationwide declare a strike.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Coach swap!

So, tough times for Venus Williams and Dinara Safina. Two weeks, two early round exits for both. For Venus, she's lost twice in a week to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (and, yes, that, too, was cut-and-pasted), a mere qualifier. Meanwhile, world (ahem) No. (ahemahem) 1 Safina lost to Shuai Zhang, who is ranked TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX IN THE WORLD! Think Roger Federer could do that? And men's tennis is actually deep.
It is late in the year, and as they say, shiz-nit happens. But both these players have had very interesting seasons. Safina gets to the top of the mountain, but wimps out in major tournaments. Venus gets her ranking back up, only to suffer puzzling losses all year, and sometimes, she has looked utterly lost out there. What can these players do to change things around?
First up, Safina. Right now, she's under the tutelage of one Zeljko Krajan, who, some say is kind of hard on her. I will say I've never seen someone so irritated to see his student win a match. Maybe what Safina needs is some positive reinforcement, someone who can convince her she is a worthy No. 1, that she can beat anyone.
Someone like Richard Williams.
Now that man might not be able to fix a forehand, but he can sure light a fire under a sister. A Williams sister. But how about a Russian? How would that coaching session go?
Dinara: Oh, I hate my serve!
Pop Williams: What kind of crap is that? You need to go out there and beat those white turkeys! Ace 'em!
Dinara: I missed another one! (smashes racquet on court)
Pop: Listen, I'm from the ghetto. When you're from the ghetto, you don't get all nervous and stuff. Where are you from?
Dinara: Moscow ...
Pop: Got any ghettos in Moscow?
Dinara: I don't know ...
Pop: Ever hear gunshots on the tennis courts? Have to pay off gang members to protect you while you practice?
Dinara: No.
Pop: And you're worried about a serve? A forehand? Girl, you better shut up and hit that shot. And be glad you didn't get shot!
Hey, that logic has produced about, oh, 20 majors for the Williams clan. Couldn't hurt, right?
Now, on to Venus. Still, after all these years, she's being coached by her parents, who frankly, couldn't be less interested during her matches, it seems. Richard's fixing his ball cap, Oracene's sleeping and Serena's texting Common while Venus is trying to beat Kim Clijsters at the U.S. Open. What she needs is some passion, some anger, a fresh fire, someone to get mad at her.
Someone like Zeljko Krajan.
Maybe what Venus needs is someone to call down during one of those stupid mid-match coach conferences:
Krajan: What the hell is the matter with you?
Venus: I don't know. Too many errors. She's playing well.
Krajan: (mutters in Croatian) I told you move into the court. Be aggressive. What you doing back there?
Venus: It's just a tough day at the office right now..
Krajan: Oh, you look terrible. Six double faults. Pushing your serve? How you expect to win like that?
Venus: (drinking water and nodding)
Krajan: You gotta start every match 6-0, 5-0?