Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The rage edition: Indian Wells Can't Be the 5th Slam for This One Reason

Let's not talk about how Stevie Wonder must have pulled together the men's draw, with three of the traditional Big Four on one side of the draw. Let's also not point out that the one guy who had a whole half of a draw to himself lost in the first round, while the other guys are still playing. (COME ON RAFA.) Let's not even go there about how Venus Williams is playing the smartest, and by extension, the best tennis of her career. The other thing we've got to hold off on is that all the big boys are playing doubles and drawing crowds, and veterans are playing with hotheads and if it's a strategy, it's a beautiful one and it just might work to loosen the dour temperaments of the young Aussies.
And of course, we can't talk about the big controversy of whether a player serving a drug ban should be getting wild cards into tournaments. (no. Not her and not for a tournament that starts while she's still banned and hold a spot for her that someone who presumably hasn't been banned for drugs now can't have. But we're not talking about that now. Just ... just focus, OK?) We can't talk about all the great things about Indian Wells because of the one thing that's really got me freaking pissed right now. It's not a topic that's gone uncovered here at TWA, and we are gonna talk about it again now. This friggin' on-court coaching that only the women have access to. Instead of me just going on about this, let's just talk about all the "good" that's come of it here at the "Fifth Slam."
Kayla Day. Day is a 17-year-old American who I just saw for the first time this week, and she has got some serious lefty GAME. Last week, she was beating the tar out of Garbine Muguruza. Day really had her on the ropes, too -- up a set and a break in the second. But then it seemed as though Muguruza woke up and realized that she did indeed have a match this day and that in fact it was happening at that point in time. So she stepped up her game, which threw the teenager for a bit of a loop.

Day: "She's hitting great first serves now. I can't even touch them!"
Coach: "Yeah, you have to give her that. but focus on the serves you can hit and do what you can."

I'm paraphrasing. But isn't this information that Day, if pressed, could have told herself? Yeah, sure, Naf, but the real question is did it work?

Later in the third set, as Day finds herself in the process of getting wiped off the court, she summons her coach again.

Coach: "It's never over until it's over."
Day: ... (looking dejected. she's pretty sure it's over)
Coach: "blah blah blah blah"

Oh, wait, sorry. That's just what Day heard just before she went and double-faulted the match away.
So, no, it didn't help. It's also not his fault. But what's burning me up is that these women are getting advice that they should already know.

Speaking of "blah blah blah," let's move on to Madison Keys, who called Lindsay Davenport out when she was having trouble closing out her first-round match. Later, Keys acknowledged that she couldn't remember what it was Davenport had said. "I just needed to calm down."
OK. So we have a pro player who can't settle herself down during a match, even at the risk of choking at least the set, and maybe the match away? Funny, if she were a dude, Madison would just have to go ahead and lose that match ... or figure it out on her own. What. A. Concept.
This alone should disqualify Indian Wells from any premier status as a tournament. Allowing on-court coaching a) gives one half of the tournament's participants an advantage based on gender b) advances the idea that women are mentally weak and c) does absolutely nothing to make Kayla Day a better tennis player. If tennis is really 99.9207 percent mental, why offer a crutch? The ability to deal with stress and pressure is literally at the heart of the game of tennis.
In fact, if you're a coach, you should not support this concept or participate in it, unless your endgame is feeding mental enablement. (That's probably not a word. It is today.) Let's just put this in the most basic of terms. Let's say I'm 4 years old. My mom really would like me to clean up the table after dinner. But she really only makes me do it about half the time. Am I going to clean up after myself every time, knowing that there's a decent chance I can get away with her doing it for me? See what I'm saying? If you're a coach, don't you want to get to the point where you don't have to tell your charge what to do? Like, say, at the French Open, where you can't call Mommy or Daddy down for a quick talk?
Fifth Slam my

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