Sunday, September 11

 
In Some Tennis Related News...
Profitting BIG TIME through eBay: 111 days left.

America's a funny old place...while some people commemorate the heroic deeds and the anniversary of 9/11...others try to figure out the senselessness of the tragedy that is New Orleans...

And there are the others who couldnt care less...and are instead focused on the excitin tennis played out in their backyard...Andre has qualifed for the men's Finals...and what a surprise he's playin the Swiss Roger Army Knife who simply cant lose a match...rest assured i'll be watchin the game with great interest...

I also chanced upon an article on the Boston Globe today...great article on the state of tennis these days...

Is tennis really less fun than it used to be?
By Leland de la Durantaye September 11, 2005

'IN THE 11 YEARS since Sports Illustrated ran a cover story asking the ominous question, ''Is Tennis Dying?" not a few fans have found themselves answering ''yes." But the ecstatic play at this year's US Open--epitomized by Andre Agassi's defeat of a resurgent James Blake in a fifth-set tie-breaker in the wee hours last Wednesday--is making many change their minds.

Tennis has always been a game of drastic pronouncements. Most credit its invention to medieval French monks, who would bellow tenez (''get ready") at opponents across hallowed halls and sacred arcades. By the 13th century, the game's popularity had hit such a dangerously fevered pitch that both the Pope and King Louis IV tried to ban it.

Wimbledon may have the tradition and Roland Garros the rich red clay, but the most electrifying event of the tennis year is the one ending tonight in Flushing Meadows. The fastest and loudest tournament in the world got its start, appropriately enough, in a casino (the first US Open was held at the Newport Casino in 1881). Over the years, the tournament has been through changes of venue, status (professionalization came in 1968), demographics (in 1968 Arthur Ashe became the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam event), and rules (the tie-breaker was introduced in 1970 after F.D. Robbins needed a numbing 100 games to defeat Dick Dell), but it remains the most truly ecstatic of tournaments.

Many look back to the Open of the 1970s as the heyday of tennis ecstasy. After besting Ashe in a dramatic five-set final in 1972, Ilie ''Nasty" Nastase was literally mobbed by supporters. Bjorn Borg, with his uncannily elegant play, flowing hair, and legendarily tight Fila shorts, dominated the tour, but he could never master the Open. In 1976 and '78 Borg lost the final to a brash player with a bowl cut, a Playboy Playmate wife, and the weirdest racket ever made, Wilson's steel T2000. ''New Yorkers love it when you spill your guts out there," burbled the victorious Jimmy Connors. ''Spill your guts at Wimbledon and they make you stop and clean it up."

The next year McEnroe took over the gut-spilling, winning three finals in a row--two against Borg and a third against Vitus Gerulaitis, a fellow New Yorker with a modish mullet, a name that would do well on a recreational drug for aging Europeans, and an affection for all-night partying at places like Andy Warhol's Factory, where he and Nastase came to be as welcome as Bianca Jagger.

By the '80s, however, the fun seemed to have vanished. Some blame the rise of Ivan Lendl, the dour, machine-like Czech who played in eight consecutive finals and paved the way for a legion of big servers with bland personalities. McEnroe (who won his last Open in 1984) has suggested that the culprit was technology, pointing the finger at new developments in racket construction made for a game which privileged power over finesse.

Nastase, for his part, blamed the declining interest in the men's game on the baggy shorts and baseball caps that he felt limited how much female fans could appreciate the men's draw. More to the point, he criticized the isolation in which players lived. Not only did US Open seeds cease partying together; they stopped going anywhere together, including the doubles draw. A bell jar of dieticians, psychologists, personal trainers, coaches, managers, agents, and the like seemed to be coming down on them, creating the conditions under which players could say things such as Venus Williams' recent remark when asked about her feelings concerning Katrina's devastation, ''I don't really watch the news."

And yet, no better sign of tennis's life can be offered than this year's US Open and its wealth of old and new talent playing their guts out, from Blake and Agassi duking it out to 23-year-old Elena Dementieva's defeat of veteran Lindsay Davenport in a final-set tie-breaker the same evening. In the years to come, shorts may grow still longer and more baggy (traditionalists should remember that Rafael Nadal's knickers are now really only a few inches away from returning to the flannel length Henri Lacoste wore), and racket producers will continue to come up with new tricks. Ill-mannered mega-entourage players like No. 2 in the world Hewitt have always been around. But on the other side of the scales, Agassi has a single coach (a childhood friend), and Roger Federer, the most rounded and technically brilliant tennis player one could imagine (as well as an unfaltering gentleman), doesn't have a coach at all.

Tonight, one player will taste the agony of defeat. But the ecstasy that has defined tennis from the time of 13th-century French monks hiking up their soutanes and romping about cloister gardens to the era of fans doing the wave around Arthur Ashe stadium is in no danger of decline.'

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