Wednesday, June 28, 2017

He Cannot Be Serious ... Right?

Just moments after finalizing my latest post that chronicled the struggles of playing on a court full of men who feel it is their job to fix my game -- while conspicuously ignoring their own issues -- I found out that John McEnroe decided he had something to say about Serena Williams and it might play well into the macro part of that post.
For those of you who missed it, McEnroe said that Serena's a great female player but in terms of how she'd stack up against a man? She'd just be ranked #700. 
No, the male No. 700 player in the world does not happen to possess 23 Grand Slam titles, but I guess it is not really a Grand Slam win if it is won by a woman playing other women. Welp, Serena, welcome to being a woman in America. 
Serena Williams won the Australian Open while she was pregnant. Most men can't get out of bed if they have a common cold. Women are paid less for doing the same work as men as standard practice and men get mad if they get kicked out of their company for making disparaging comments about women. I guess I can understand why Uber dude is confused. I mean, if you don't have to pay them equally, why can't you treat them however you want? It's all very confusing.
Did McEnroe just degrade the worth of women's tennis with his comments? Of course he did. No, women aren't as physically strong as men. Williams has won more majors than a man ever has. She's 35 years old. She won her first major at 17. But she's a woman, so that means ... less? 
(Incidentally, John McEnroe wasn't on the pro tour at 17. He won his first major at 20 and when he was 35, he'd been retired from tennis for about two years.)
You know, I will never again whine about having advice doled out to me unsolicited by men who don't know what they're talking about. I mean, it could be worse. You could ascend to the top of the game, do things no PERSON has ever done before and still have someone has hasn't been relevant in the pro game for about 30 years strip your achievements down with barely a second thought. And someone who never did anything about that forehand. 
I mean, come the hell on already with that forehand.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Therapy with TWA: Tennis-ing while Female.

The thing that's great about tennis is that once you get out on that court, everyone is equal. All that matters is the ball and the racquet.
LOL. Just kidding. We're going to talk today about the real terms of play. This post might just be for the ladies. If you're a 2.5 guy, you might perhaps be able to identify with this, too.
So last week, I picked up my racquet for the first time in a month. Just an informal group of folks pairing up for doubles, and usually, I'm the only woman. I expected to be rusty and as a considerate tennis player, I made sure to inform all my partners that I hadn't played in a while, but if I'm being real, I knew how the next two-and-a-half would unfold. It's how it almost always unfolds when I play with men.
First set: Just about the way I'd expect. Missed a few volleys and my serve toss was all over creation. One of the regulars noted this and every. single. time. I. served I heard about my toss. He was on the other side of the court! I botched a volley down the middle, and when I turned to walk back to the baseline, there was my partner with a life lesson, which boils down to this: Let me hit those.
No matter what I did -- if it was a mistake -- there were all kinds of hot takes. This has been going on for years, mostly because I enjoy playing mixed doubles. I consider it a challenge because I know I'll probably be the target and the match will hinge on my performance. But let's be real. There is nothing worse about mixed doubles than the men who are nitpicking you the entire match.
Now, this doesn't happen every time with every man. You know the times it doesn't happen for me? When I played 9.0 and was on the court with 4.5 guys or better. Once, I played with a 5.0, and he said nothing -- not even the standard eye roll or shoulder slump (ladies, you know what I mean). I knew he was obviously far better than me, and I had to ask him what he thought we should do to turn the tide of the match. He told me, and we won the match. See, that's how doubles should work -- as a team effort. But just go ahead and play with the ham-and-eggers of the world, and they have all the answers for the ladies.
One thing I noticed was that when the guys missed a shot, there was no commentary. Partly because I don't feel the need to offer such input. He'll figure it out. (Spoiler: Just like I will!) But even these men who have loads of advice for me don't have it for each other. That's kinda weird, isn't it? It's almost as if the only difference is ... nah. Couldn't be.
Sometimes, we have this one guy who essentially comments on everything. He's our on-court ESPN analyst. He showed up last week, and by the end of the evening, our own Brent Musburger had managed to talk through an entire point, and guess who was serving when it happened? So I miss the first serve (comment about my toss), make the second serve ("Oh, that toss ... oh, you made it anyway!), my next crosscourt (oh, heh-heh, that's a good one), his partner's volley (That's a good one, Jer, heh-heh), my partner's pickup at the net (hey! How'd ya yet that one?"). It was our longest point of the night, in many, many ways.
I'm saying all of this to say that: Mansplaining is real, and it's everywhere. Because I didn't even ask for help and yet here I am, getting unsolicited advice from literally every person on the court. (One of them is my husband, and he's been doing this since we met. I give him a pass because he's actually a coach by trade. He will also shut up when I tell him to.) This involuntary mansplaining is also unintentional sexism. It's a super-micro look at why no one complains about on-court coaching for women only in pro tennis. It's an automatic assumption that every mishit is a cry for help. It's an assumption that if my toss is off, I can't figure out why. (But time out: Why is it so hard to catch a bad toss? This, I know, is a question that vexes both sexes.) This has happened to me for each of the 16 years I've been playing tennis, and it really only took this extreme instance to realize that this assumption is at work. I'm sitting here trying to think of an instance where I assume I need to give advice almost every second during a process -- and I keep coming up with teaching a kid how to read and on-the-job training at work.
This isn't one of those posts with a nice little bow at the end that offers a solution. It's more a challenge to any men who cheated and read this to ask yourself why you trend towards giving a woman advice much faster than you do another man. Also? Ask yourself if you actually think she'll listen to you. If she's looking at your game and it's a hot mess, probably no.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Frenchy 2017: What the French just happened?

I know that I said the French Open always produces surprising results, and that it is almost impossible to predict at times. But I have also come to realize that I have some incredibly awful prediction abilities. I probably always have. But thanks to social media, now there is concrete evidence.




Y'all should follow me on Twitter, where I make an ass of myself daily!
So, lesson being learned, I was mostly quiet during the final between Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka. Nadal won his tenth French Open title due in some part to me staying off Twitter, meaning now that our fates are now inexorably linked.
Makes sense to me.
OK, but seriously. What happened at the French Open that's worth discussing?

5. I am just saying I'm right about Angelique Kerber: Last year, I paid a shaky tribute to Kerber's ascent to No. 1. There's no questioning how she got there -- she won two slams and beat Serena Williams in the process of winning Australia. I questioned then if her game is built to last at the top, and it's starting to look like the answer is no. Was there anyone who follows tennis who actually expected her to win against Ekaterina Makarova in the first round? Now, I heard people floating around the idea that she was injured, and although she's had issues earlier in the year, she hasn't said recently that she's struggling with injury. What she has said is that she's having trouble handling the pressure of being at the top. That happens a lot (definitely not looking at you, Garbine Muguruza), and really the best time for this to happen is now -- if Kerber can get past the yips. The top four slots in women's tennis are just there for the taking for whoever is bold enough to cash in until Serena and Victoria Azarenka return. Yes, I expect both of them back in the top 5 after their maternity leaves. No, that's not undue pressure.

4. Bagels were served quite often at the French Open: Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Novak Djokovic. Juan Martin del Potro, Fabio Fognini. Genie Bouchard. Anyone who played Nadal. It's sort of funny when you think about this happening so often to men because, as we all know, women's tennis is traditionally considered the weaker variety. Of course, the bagel epidemic has caused proponents of best-of-three matches for men to reanimate. There are far too many high-quality men's matches still going on to make that a solid argument. But ... I am watching the trend.

3. The future is pretty much now: That bagel Djokovic took came from Dominic Thiem. Last month, Thiem beat Nadal on clay. He's beaten all the Big 4 already. All of this as Alexander Zverev still struggles for consistency. Guys, I think Thiem might win a major this year, like

2. Jelena Ostapenko: Like, WHAT.: OK, for the first hour of this match, I fought to keep it on my television. It was that hard to watch. Halep played probably the best I'd ever seen her, but Ostapenko? If it wasn't a winner, it was an error. Sometimes, my husband calls me "Two-Hit Nancy." The first half of this match was like watching me play, and it was pretty horrifying and also reminds me I should call my life coach. Anyway, all of a sudden, Ostapenko's shots began staying in the court, and for all the defense in the world, Halep couldn't keep up. For a 20-year-old kid to come back from a set and 3-0 deficit in a Grand Slam final just defies all logic, and that's kinda what makes tennis great. But also, can we briefly run through some of the people Ostapenko beat over the last two weeks? There's ... Sam Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki and Timea Bacsinszky.

1. My bae Rafa: OK, that forehand down the line in the final was SICK and you know the one I'm talking about. During the ceremony to mark Rafa's achievement -- not done before in the Open era -- they played the stinking thing again with poor Wawrinka standing there! The idea that Nadal's form on clay looked better than ever is not great for the competition. Tennis observers think the grass is playing slow these days, too. Oh, man. I hope he wears that sleeveless white top again.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Frenchy 2017: Tennis-ing is Hard

I've been doing this blog for a long time, and the French Open has always been the outlier-hot mess tournament, so naturally, the top seed is gone by the second round. Annnnd, the person who beat her is also not out of the second round. The sad part is that only one of those results is a real surprise.

What the hell, A. Kerber.: Not only did Kerber lose in the opening round, she only managed to win four games -- and she was lucky to get those. I'm not going to lie, when I filled out my draw, I hesitated at this one. But in the end, I couldn't see Kerber withstanding a stiff challenge in the first round, in this case from Ekaterina Makarova. She needed a break and she got broken. Know what I'm sayin'?
Now for the unexpected part: Makarova takes advantage of this path through the quarters BY WINNING FOUR GAMES ON THE WAY TO DEFEAT IN THE VERY NEXT ROUND. Because of course. Let's move on to better news.

Yes, Petra is back!: Petra Kvitova was attacked in her own apartment by a knife-wielding intruder and was badly cut on her hand in the process of fighting this person off. This week, she came back to tennis. Her stay was brief (second-round loss to Bethanie Mattek-Sands). But she's back. I hope she's OK -- physically and emotionally.

... and Serena? ... Not gonna lie -- I saw this photo of Serena and her coach and thought, "I knew it! She's gonna play!" She is allegedly -- "allegedly" here to watch Venus, although I think her true motives were somewhere in here:



What the hell, A. Zverev.: I can't even be mad at Alexander Zverev for blowing up my bracket for frankness like this:



The Cornet-iest quote that has ever lived: