As Summer Comes to a Close… Tennis Begins to “Open” Up

The 2009 US Open is off to a great start. I find this year’s US Open to be exceptionally spectacular, both on and off the court. For instance, I absolutely LOVE the new feature of including a US Open LIVE feature, where fans at home can watch free, full length matches in high definition complete with commentary. It’s really broadened the availability of tennis in America, strategically increasing popularity through this process. I’ve always been a fan and found it annoying when I didn’t have the TV station that was hosting the Open that day or when the commentators would continuously switch through various courts, never staying on a single match for the whole time.

But what I love most about this year’s US Open is women’s tennis. Of course, men’s tennis is always a pleasure to watch, but it’s been mind-numbingly dull to watch this year. Sure, you might enjoy watching Federer destroy Lleyton Hewitt in a barely entertaining 4-set match, but I’d rather watch a fabulous upset on the women’s side. Speaking of upsets… there’s been plenty. Take Melanie Oudin, age 17, from Marietta, Georgia. This summer, she upset No. 6 Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon, going all the way to the fourth round. She brought that intensity and a raised level of confidence to the US Open. So far, she’s continuing into in the fourth round, having accomplished two MAJOR upsets (in my opinion, they were even more well-earned than Jelena Jankovic’s defeat). Miss Oudin managed to defeat the 2008 Beijing Olympics Tennis gold medalist and ranked No. 4 Elena Dementieva 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and even No. 29 and three-time grand slam winning Maria Sharapova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Her next match up will be against No. 13 Nadia Petrova. In addition to having these two goliaths out of the tournament so early, No. 5 Jelena Jankovic and No. 1 Dinara Safina fell in two long, hard fought matches. Jelena Jankovic lost in the second round to No. 55 Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) saving two match points! And tonight, No. 1 Dinara Safina fell to Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) in an agonizing and intense match. On the men’s side, James Blake also fell to Tommy Robredo.

It’s always been somewhat natural for most humans to cheer on the underdog. I’ve always loved Sharapova, but when I see her up at the court against Georgia’s own Melanie Oudin, I immediately have an intense disliking for the Russian. It’s always fascinating how humans always love to see upsets, no matter how emotionally debilitating they may be to the high ranked player. I reckon that Dinara Safina, criticized for never having won a grand slam title as a No. 1 ranked player, may go downhill from here. After such a loss (she had four match points), terrible playing in the past week, and continuous criticism from fellow players, fans, and experts… I don’t expect her to bounce back anytime soon. And while you and I may have had our chuckle, our satisfaction of knowing there’s still hope for people who aren’t Number One, most of us fail to see the damage that these seemingly fun and harmless upsets can cause. Sooner or later, we’re going to be cheering for the young teenager who’s on Arthur Ashe, against Melanie Oudin, a top ten player. In the world of ups and downs, everyone has to take his or her own toll.

Published in: on September 6, 2009 at 5:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Summer… It’s Time For Tennis!

Everyone who knows tennis knows that it’s best in the summer. Sure, playing with your friends and coaches in a plush, indoor tennis court is a fair simulation of the sport, but the true tennis player knows that outside is where it’s hot – literally. In the summer, you can still play indoors, but the atypical smoldering heat with low-powered fans becomes excruciatingly unbearable. Just go outside.

I remember playing tennis in the spring for my school team feeling as if I had shed away the cocoon of a slow and cold winter. I definitely was not adjusted or used to the dimensions and ‘feel’ of the court… us tennis players know what happens when you stay indoors too long. When I got ready to serve, and then felt a gust of wind, I knew that this is what I had been missing in my tennis games. The aspect of nature.

The past week that I had spent playing tennis was almost brutal. Having returned from a three week hiatus of nothing but adorning suits and ties, I was what you would say ‘rusty.’ Nonetheless, I have recovered from said embarrassing incident and hopefully the next time, it will be more bearable.

I played with a Babolat Pure Drive Cortex Standard Racquet ($175) with Babolat Hurricane Pro Tour Gauge 16 strings, at an initial tension of 65lbs… which most likely fell to a 60 or 61lbs by now. In addition, the handle is size 4 1/2 and the overgrip I use is Prince Microtac. I’ve tried the Wilson Pro Overgrip and the TournaGrip, but for some reason I switched over to using the Prince just a week or so ago. In addition, I used the Babolat Custom Damp (Blue & Red) and frankly, they’re the best shock absorbers I’ve used to date (they definitely beat out those silly Djokovic frowny face ones).  Although I have two of these racquets (identical in everything except for the color of the shock absorber and overgrip), I decided to “demo” two other racquets: the Babolat Aero Storm Racquet 2008 ($185) and the Head MicroGEL Extreme Racquet 2009 ($180). With both of these racquets, I felt as if my volley and net game were significantly improved in comparison to with my Pure Drive. Yet, I felt as if the Aero Storm racquet was a little clunky, as the head of the racquet has more weight than the head of the Pure Drive. I think my Pure Drive allowed me to play more consistently and with more spin than both the Aero Storm and the Head MicroGEL Extreme, but all three were great. And today was a doubles day, so the other two racquets came in handy.

The loud and crisp “pop” of the tennis ball and the squeaking of the tennis shoes are ever so reminiscent of the tennis season. With Wimbledon and the French Open already past, fans have yet to witness the US Open 2009. When fall comes around, the leaves blow around as the temperature begins to drop. Yet tennis still continues on, all year round, whether it be indoors, outdoors, or both.  Summer will surely be one to remember, regardless of whether or not you share adoration for the sport of tennis, so be sure to take notes especially on this one.

Published in: on July 15, 2009 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment