Monday, December 29, 2008

Third Annual Gonad Awards

2008 will go down as the year this tennis fanatic didn't pay that much attention to tennis. An historic US presidential election took up most of my attention. I didn't even watch all that much of the US Open because I was in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. So this entry may be lacking. I can only judge what I saw. Without further ado...

Players Of The Year: Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams

The men's pick was no contest. Rafa won his fourth consecutive Roland Garros and a few weeks later, dethroned Roger Federer on the lawns of Wimbledon in the most breathtaking match I've ever seen. Not since Bjorn Borg in 1980 has a man won the natural surface double. Rafa also won an Olympic Gold and three Masters shields. And after spending the longest time at No. 2 in the history of the rankings, he finally ascended to the top spot and finished the year there.

The WTA choice was more tricky. Jelena Jankovic finished the year atop the rankings, but only managed to make a single Slam final, which she lost to Serena. Venus Williams finished the year strongly by sweeping to victory at the Season Ending Championships. But it was Serena who put together the most impressive stats in 2008. She made two consecutive Slam finals, won her third US Open, appeared in the best WTA matches of the year, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking for a short time, and defended her title at the "fifth Slam" in Miami. And who can forget her 6-2, 6-o rout of defending runnerup Justine Henin in the quarterfinals? That performance alone could qualify her for this honor.

Greatest Performances: Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal

Maria's run to the championship in Melbourne seems like a lifetime ago, but it deserves this accolade. She served up three bagels, including one to the world No. 1 in the quarterfinals, didn't drop a set, and lost a grand total of 32 games through seven rounds. It was the most dominant Slam performance of any WTA player all year.

Rafa won his fourth Roland Garros without dropping a set, but this was his most dominant performance of the year. Forgotten in all the hoopla is that he destroyed Raja in the final 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. When was the last time Raja ate a bagel? In a Slam final? My answers: I can't remember and never.

Best ATP Match: Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer, Wimbledon Final

Runner up: Andy Roddick d. Felciano Lopez, Dubai Final

The greatest match that almost wasn't. Rafa was poised to defeat Raja in straight sets. Up 5-2 in the third set breaker and then a double fault. The 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 rest is history. Reader peytonallen put it best:

I've ripped Fed for a year for dressing up for the ceremony after he won last year. No more. To his credit, the man dressed up for the Runners-up trophy as well.

Greatest match I've ever seen. Both men played so well. Nadal is just a monster. Everything his fans in this blog have said he's had to do to improve and win on a fast surface he's done really over the past two months.

Increased depth in his returns and ground strokes. More aggression when he has a play, and finally a better serve. Nadal may never hit 15 aces in a big match, but he outserved Roger today.

[John McEnroe] giving Fed a hug, nearly bringing a sob from Fed was classic. You did feel bad for Fed. He tried so hard. Most of the time he's class. But, somebody had to lose. But both of them were going to sob.

Rafa played better. He deserved to win. If he had lost after losing that 4th set breaker, I would have been sick, can't imagine how he would've felt.

I thought it was over at 5-2 in the 4th set breaker. A choke, but after the choke he didn't turn back. Fed played brilliantly to save the [matchpoints].

Roger's serve was the only thing really keeping him in the match. He got on a streak after the first rain delay and served too well in the 3rd set tiebreaker. Midway through the 4th his service games were there for the taking, but he came up with big serves when needed for literally a set and a half. 0-30 three big serves, etc.

[What] cajones by Nadal to keep fighting after he choked the 4th set. When facing a break point in the 5th, [he] just wearing Roger down with darkness coming. He earned that one.

I can't think of anything else to say. The Roger is done talk can be saved for another day, but it's clear he's no longer the best player in the world.

And who could have seen this coming? In the fall Nadal was waxed by Roger and then you hear stories coming from Rafa's doctor that says his foot is damaged and career nearly over. Then Uncle Toni rebuts.

He gets blown off the Aussie Open court.

And now... the light switch has come on, Nadal entered his prime years.

Best WTA Match: Serena Williams d. Jelena Jankovic, US Open Final

Runner up: Serena Williams d. Venus Williams, US Open Quarterfinal

This match inspired me to write a letter to the tennis gods.

Thank you for such an extraordinary tennis match last night. It was easily the best US Open women's final I've ever seen live. For a change, not one was cowed by the moment. Just to win most of the points, Serena and Jelena had to travel coast to coast, north and south, just to come back to the middle to put a ball away. I was getting tired just watching the match. So much running. 6-4, 7-5. Two sets. Over two hours. Felt like the match went to a third-set tiebreak, didn't it?

Thank you for giving the divas the energy to keep it up. Jelena surprised me with how well she played and fought and wouldn't let Serena run away with it. Perhaps she might consider focusing on the match more than her own image on the jumbo tron, but whatever works.

Thank you most of all for allowing my girl to prevail. Her focus, even when her legs froze toward the end of the second set and she couldn't keep the ball in the court, was laser sharp. She almost looked like she had a flashback to that horrible night in 2004 when that chair umpire who shall not be named lost her that quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati. Who just happened to be there last night.

It's been a long time between drinks, and I was beginning to think you had forsaken me. But it was worth the wait. Six years since Serena won her last US Open. That's the longest stretch in the Open Era between singles titles won by a woman player at the same Slam. Five years since Serena was ranked No. 1 in the world. The longest stretch since the ranking systems began for a player to fall from and return to the top of the charts.

And she did it all without dropping a set. She saved at least 11 set points in the final two matches, no?

I've never seen her so happy after winning a Slam. She looked like she was going to jump right out of the stadium. Reminded me of her big sister after winning Wimbledon in 2005 in a great, great final. And Venus was right there channeling her energy down to the court and rooting her little sister on to victory. Her father was dancing in the aisles. Her mother wore that 1,000 watt smile from ear to ear. It was a beautiful thing.

Worst ATP Match: Ivo Karlovic d. John Isner, New Haven Second Round

The two giants can serve, but neither can return serve and even when they did, most of the "rallies" ended in unforced errors. Almost unwatchable.

Worst WTA Match: Shahar Pe'er d. Dinara Safina, Wimbledon Third Round

Not exactly sure what it is about Shahar that makes Dinara wilt (Dinara didn't beat her once in three tries in 2008) but whatever it is, it makes for some ugly tennis.

Biggest Performance Breakdown, ATP: Novak Djokovic to Marat Safin, Wimbledon Second Round

Biggest Performance Breakdown, WTA: Svetlana Kuznetsova to Alona Bondarenko, Berlin Third Round

Biggest Upset, ATP: Phillip Kohlschreiber d. Andy Roddick, Australian Open Third Round

His draw through to the semifinals was too good to be true. Andy squandered it all by falling in five sets to the pesky German for the first time in his career. He'd never even dropped a set to Phillip before. Jimmy Connors walked shortly thereafter.

Biggest Upset, WTA: Tie - Julie Coin d. Ana Ivanovic, US Open Second Round; Alla Kudryavtseva d. Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon Second Round

Seems that the worst thing to happen to Ana was winning Roland Garros. Her results went down hill pretty fast, even though she rebounded slightly in the fall. But how did a qualifier ranked No. 188 beat the champion in a Slam?

Maria claims her shoulder caused this upset at her favorite event. She only played one more event in 2008 after this straight-set beatdown by her younger compatriot.

Biggest Overall Dispointments: Larry Scott and Etienne de Villiers

Most Surprising Runs: Jheng Zie and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Just two years after Li Na became China's first Slam quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, Zheng become's the nation's first Slam semifinalist at the same event. After recently recovering from ankle surgery, Zheng's ranking couldn't get her into the main draw of a Slam. So she wrote a letter to the AELTC and urged the powers that be to grant her a wild card. They honored her request. Round after round, she angled her powerful backhand, past Ana Ivanovic, the world No. 1, the biggest upset of the fortnight, past Agnes Szavay, past Nicole Vaidisova, right into the semifinals. Her efforts would also give her the year's best comeback award.

Tsonga, despite all his talent, had never been consistent enough (or injury free) to put together a great run over two weeks at a Slam. All that changed at the Australian Open. Most fans thought he'd lose to Andy Murray in the first round. But he surprised Andy with his power, precision, and all-court prowess, setting the stage for his historic run to the championship match. Tsonga suffered an abdominal injury which kept him from competing at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but he came back strong in the fall to win the BNP Paribas Masters with wins over Radek Stepanek, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and defending champ David Nalbandian. Another surprising run to bookend a year that ended him in the Top 10.

Most Improved Gonads: Gilles Simon and Dinara Safina

Honorable Mentions: Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray, Vera Zvonareva

If I had told you at the beginning of the year that Simon would end the year at No. 7, you probably would have laughed me off my own blog. But he kicked off the summer hardcourts with a victory in Indianapolis, beat Raja in the second round at the Canada Masters, took Juan Martin del Potro to the limit at the US Open, and made his first Masters final in Madrid. Proving his victory over Federer was no fluke, he got him again at the Masters Cup and advanced to the semifinals where he fell to eventual champ.

Dinara has come a long way in getting out of her own way. In her run to the Berlin title, she beat Justine and Serena back-to-back. The title gave her the confidence to fight through to her first Slam final in Paris. She was down and out to Maria in the fourth round, but she battled through that match and then vanquished Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova to set up her Saturday date with Ana. She won two more events in the summer, won an Olympic Silver, made the final four at the US Open where Serena was just too much to handle, and won another Tier I in Tokyo. She ended the year at a career-high No. 3 ranking.

Outstanding Newcomers: Caroline Wozniacki and Nishikori Kei

Best Comebacks: Rainer Schuettler and Zheng Jie
I've already written about Zheng, so I'll skip right to Schuettler. After playing most of his events on the challenger circuit in 2007 and the first half of 2008, the 32-year-old 2003 Masters Cup participant made the semifinals of Wimbledon and had a few decent respectable runs in the fall.

Best Farewell: Gustavo Kuerten

He went out in front of his beloved fans on his favorite surface. And he received a wonderful tribute. We'll miss his infectious smile.

Worst Farewell: Justine Henin

Two years in a row, two tainted WTA retirements. Not even Justine's publisher, who had planned to take advantage of the tour schedule and release her book around her beloved Roland Garros, had a clue Justine would give up the tennis ghost. It was the most abrupt retirement of a reigning world No. 1 the sport has ever seen. I'm not sure a reigning No. 1 has ever retired.

The way the mainstream tennis media ushered out their tributes and retrospectives before Justine even held a press conference to officially announce her retirement smacked of nothing less than a cover up.

I won't write what I really think about it, I probably don't have to because I bet you can read between the lines, but if Justine wants us to believe she was simply burnt out a few months after her best year ever on the WTA, then I've got a bridge up in Alaska to sell you.

Coaches of the Year: Oracene Price and Toni Nadal

For the second year running, Oracene Price coached each of her tennis star daughters to Slam titles in 2008, making it the third time in history that siblings have won Grand Slam singles titles in the same year. 2005, 2007, 2008. Richard Williams deserves credit as well.

Toni Nadal coached his nephew to the top of the charts with back-to-back-to-back huge victories.

Biggest Tennis Powerhouse: Spain

Russia swept the medals in women's singles in Beijing and won another Fed Cup, but Spain takes this cake. The women's team made their 11th Fed Cup final. The men's team took the Davis Cup for the second time since 2004. Rafa won an Olympic Gold and the biggest prize in tennis, the first Spaniard to win on the lawns of Wimbledon in 42 years. In the wake of Spain's Davis Cup victory, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the formation of a full-fledged sports ministry.

Strongest Ovaries: Venus Williams


She won her fifth Wimbledon by beating her sister in the final. Having lost 5 consecutive Slam finals to Serena in 2002-2003, she simply refused to go down that road once more. Even though Serena got off to a great start in the first set and looked as though she might run away with it, Venus hung tough, and the moment Serena cracked, Venus turned it up several notches to remain Queen of London. Serena returned the favor in New York, but Venus got the last laugh with a stunning performance at the Season Ending Championships where she swept through the field without losing a match to win her first year-end title in her entire storied career.

Biggest Balls: Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco


They needed to win the doubles rubber, not because Spain was down 2 rubbers, but because Spain would need the momentum to have a chance to beat Argentina on home soil. Something that had never happened before. Neither is known for his mental toughness, but Davis Cup can bring out the best in the frailest of the frail. Down a set and facing a hostile crowd, the Spanish lefties with the big serves and bigger forehands got their acts together and proved to David Nalbandian and Agustin Calleri that a strong doubles team will usually prevail over two singles players thrown in the ring to play doubles.

Photos Of The Year


Friday, December 26, 2008


I don't know if Andy Murray should be too excited that John McEnroe has tapped him to win a Slam in 2009. After all, he predicted Novak Djokovic would become the next No. 1 after Roger Federer. That didn't work out too well.

Meanwhile, Marcos Baghdatis (remember him?) has pegged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the next first-time Slam champion.

I hope the player on the verge of dropping out of the Top 100 is more prescient than the multi-Slam winning tennis legend.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Other Jelena

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)—Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic won a wild-card spot at next month’s Australian Open by beating Monica Wejnert 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3 in a playoff on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Dokic, a former No. 4 in 2002, fell behind 3-0 in the opening set but recovered for the win in a playoff organized by Tennis Australia to allocate the spots for local players.

She will now attempt to qualify for tuneup tournaments in Brisbane and Hobart before taking her place in the main draw at Melbourne Park beginning Jan. 19.

“I don’t have to worry about the Australian Open now,” Dokic said. “I came into here wanting to play qualifying but to be in the main draw gives me two tournaments before the Open to play.”

A series of injuries and personal problems, many of them involving her father Damir, accompanied Dokic’s ranking plummet to 617 in 2006.

But she won three second-tier titles this year and has improved her ranking to 179—her first time inside the top 200 in four years.

Dokic moved to Australia with her family in 1994 but renounced her former home in 2001 and took up citizenship in her native Serbia. She decided to play again for Australia in 2006.

She was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2000, losing in straight sets to Lindsay Davenport, but made bigger headlines there the year before when, as a 16-year-old qualifier, she beat No. 1 Martina Hingis in the first round.

Dokic, who has five career singles titles, said she no longer speaks to her father, who has been kicked out of the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and other tournaments for volatile outbursts. When the family left Australia, Damir Dokic also implied that the Australian Open draw was rigged against his daughter.

Will this comeback go anywhere?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Captain Costa

Coming as no surprise, Albert Costa has been named Spain's new Davis Cup captain.

Former French Open champion Albert Costa was named Spain's Davis Cup captain on Thursday, a month after the team beat Argentina for the 2008 title.

The 33-year-old Costa replaces Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who stepped down after leading Spain to its third Davis Cup title with a 3-1 win over Argentina in Mar del Plata.

Costa was a member of Spain's first Davis Cup winning team in 2000. He also won 12 ATP singles titles during his playing career, including the 2002 French Open. He is currently coaching Feliciano Lopez.

"I accomplished a lot of my dreams as a player, winning at Roland Garros and now I've managed another one, becoming captain of our Davis Cup team," said Costa, who agreed to lead Spain for one year.

Costa's debut will be a first round World Group match against Serbia at Benidorm from March 6-8.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Birmingham Or Bust

From the USTA:

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena in Birmingham, Ala., has been selected as the site for the 2009 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round match between the United States and Switzerland, March 6-8. The indoor arena is expected to seat more than 17,000. Tickets will go on sale in mid-January.

The United States and Switzerland are two of the 16 nations competing for the 2009 Davis Cup title as part of the Davis Cup World Group. The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles.

“The tennis fans in Alabama are in for something special. There is nothing in tennis, or sport, like a Davis Cup match,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe. “It’s a tough assignment at home, so crowd support will certainly be an advantage for us. It should be one of the most star-studded Davis Cup matches this year.”

The United States has used the same line-up – world No. 8 Andy Roddick, No. 10 James Blake, and the world’s second-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan – for 10 of the last 11 Davis Cup matches, including all four wins during its 2007 title run. World No. 2 and five-time reigning US Open champion Roger Federer has announced his intention to play in the first round of Davis Cup for the first time since 2004 and is expected to be joined by No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka, with whom he won the Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles this past summer in Beijing.

The best-of-five match series begins Friday, with two singles matches, featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. The final day of play on Sunday will feature two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match.

“We are excited that the USTA has chosen Birmingham to host the Davis Cup,” said Gene Hallman, Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation. “We look forward to showcasing our fine state in front of a global audience and expanding on Birmingham’s strong tennis tradition.”

This will be the first Davis Cup tie ever played in Alabama, making it the 33rd state to host the prestigious competition. It also will be the first major professional tennis event in Birmingham since the city hosted the 1994 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. The city also hosted a USTA Pro Circuit men’s challenger from 1991-93 and 1995-2003 as well as a women’s $10,000 event from 1983-88. Blake won the doubles titles and was the singles runner-up at the Challenger in 2001 and the Bryan brothers won the doubles title in 1999.

The United States and Switzerland have split their two previous meetings in Davis Cup. Switzerland won the last meeting in the 2001 first round in McEnroe’s debut as U.S. Davis Cup Captain and Roddick’s Davis Cup debut. The Swiss were led by relative unknown Federer who won both his singles matches and the doubles point.

The two nations first met in the 1992 Davis Cup Final in Ft. Worth, Texas, as Andre Agassi and Jim Courier each won a singles match and Pete Sampras and John McEnroe teamed for a doubles victory to give the U.S. the title. A 10-year-old Roddick was among the capacity crowds. He said the experience “changed my life. It changed the way I viewed tennis, especially the way I viewed Davis Cup.”

Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition. The USTA organizes, stages and promotes all Davis Cup events in the U.S.

Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Davis Cup team.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quote For The Day

"I think my first ambition as a kid was to be a doctor. I felt that way for quite a while. As I got better at tennis, it became difficult for me to devote as much time as I would’ve liked to my books. I had to make a choice, and it wasn’t easy because I enjoyed academics. I was good at it." --Sania Mirza, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from the Dr MGR University in Chennai

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The Third Annual Gonad Awards will be up before the end of the year. I promise. I've just been so swamped with holiday business at the farm that I can't get to them. And I'm not complaining. Not in this economy.

Pregnant Pause

Lindsay Davenport has another bun in the oven.

"I am thrilled that Jon, Jagger and I will be welcoming a new addition to our family this coming year," said Davenport. "Of course this unexpected but exciting surprise now means I will be putting tennis on hold for the foreseeable future."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Photo Of The Week


Tennis star Serena Williams reaches to return volley during a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick and members of the Boys and Girls Club, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, at the Colonial Life Area in Columbia, S.C. The tennis stars were on hand for a fundraiser to benefit The Addy Roddick Foundation which helps neglected, abused, at-risk and seriously ill children.


Savannah reviews the Orange Bowl and a some star-studded exhibitions.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Show Me The Money

Who was it who said the global financial crisis wouldn't affect tennis? Well, several ATP tournaments are without title sponsors for 2009. All the signs speak a different story.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Men

Savannah ranks the best ATP matches of 2008.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dutchman Verkerk Retires

A few weeks after his compatriot announced his return to competitive tennis, the unexpected Slam finalist throws in the towel.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP)—Martin Verkerk is quitting tennis after a career in which he reached the 2003 French Open final.

“It had been my plan to play more matches,” the Dutchman said Tuesday. “It’s a pity it didn’t work out.”

The big serving Verkerk, winner of two ATP tournaments at Milan in 2003 and the Dutch Open a year later, lost the French Open final to Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003.

The 30-year-old Verkerk played for 12 years and earned $1.5 million.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Strange Suit

With (former) agents like this, who needs enemies?

Just weeks after splitting from his client, Andre Agassi's former agent and longtime friend has filed a lawsuit against the retired tennis star's wife, Steffi Graf.

Sports agent Perry Rogers filed the lawsuit Friday in Clark County District Court. The suit claims Graf, also a former tennis star, owes $50,000 to Rogers and his Alliance Sports Management Company for services outlined in a 2002 agreement.

Graf declined to comment through a spokesman. Agassi released a statement saying he was "saddened and disappointed" by the lawsuit.


Serena Williams pulls out of next month's Hopman Cup competition with a hamstring injury. Meghann Shaughnessy (where the heck has she been?) will replace her. If this sounds like déjà vu, that's because it is. See last year when Meghann subbed for Serena in the early rounds. Serena won the Cup with Mardy Fish over Serbia in the finals.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Face Of The Day

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Cedric Pioline of France celebrates defeating Greg Rusedski of Great Britain in the final of the BlackRock Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 7, 2008 in London, England.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Silly Blogger

Kourtin' Karen interviews one of the hottest new bloggers in tennis.


Savannah reviews the coaches behind the women at the top of their games in 2008. Oracene Price and Richard Williams get top billing.

A Wimbledon Champion. A United States Open Champion. Olympic Doubles gold medalists. The winner of the YEC. Two daughters ranked in the top ten and both with the credentials and game to be named WTA Player of the Year. Along the way their daughters played two matches that rank in the top three for the year. Do I have to say anything else? I didn't think so.

You can read her review of the kingmakers here.

Friday, December 05, 2008


In an email, a reader writes:

I wanted to forward this to you and encourage you to post the information in your blogs. Why Althea is not in the NJ hall of fame already is a mystery to me.

If you want that mystery solved in Althea's favor, then you can vote for her induction here.

I learned that some of my favorite influential historical figures are from New Jersey.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rafael Nadal, ATP Player of the Year


Indisputable. That's what he is. So sings Savannah.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Quote For The Day

“If you think about it, Rafa’s got as good a chance to win double digits as anyone. I think Roger’s going to break this record over the next couple of years. I think Rafa, he could win some more Frenchs, he could win a couple more Wimbledons. He could have 10-12 majors when he’s done, if not more.” -- Pete Sampras

Face Of The Day

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Pat Cash of Australia serves to Stefan Edberg of Sweden during the BlackRock Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 2, 2008 in London, England.

Comment Of The Week

Pamela said...

It's telling when Serena does something absolutely positive, it's met with silence from the ones who usually critique in [sic] her in various ways.

I'm extremely proud of her for doing this, and remaining focused on education for those who can not or do not have access to it. Her partnership with HP should prove to be beneficial to a lot of children.

Post: Face Of The Day

Clay Cuts

Next spring, Roger Federer will only play two clay events, Rome and Madrid, before heading to Paris.

Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, told The Associated Press in October that the Swiss star would play a 2009 schedule “that works for him physically.”

“He is not going to overplay next year,” Godsick said. “He is just going to try to make sure that he peaks for the tournaments that mean the most to him.”

Will less bring more?

No Decision

Bonnie can't decide on a WTA POY. Come on, Ms Ford. Pick somebody.

Homegrowing Champions

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., December 2, 2008 -- The USTA announced today that Kathy Rinaldi and Andres Pedroso have been hired as USTA Player Development National Coaches. Pedroso and Rinaldi will work at the USTA Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., and will report to Jay Berger and Ola Malmqvist, Heads of Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Player Development. Rinaldi started December 1, while Pedroso will join the coaching staff January 5.

“We’re delighted to have Andres and Kathy join our team,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, Elite Player Development. “In addition to being an outstanding player herself, Kathy has worked with some of the top players in the country through her work with the U.S. Fed Cup team. Andres has experience working with top young talent. We know he has a lot to contribute to our program as well.”

Rinaldi, 41, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world and is a former Top 10 player in both singles and doubles. She won three singles titles and two doubles titles on the Sony Ericsson WTA tour. Rinaldi served as coach of the U.S. Fed Cup team under Captain Zina Garrison in 2006 and 2008, and has served as the Touring Pro at the Breakers of Palm Beach, Fla., for 10 years. Rinaldi had an illustrious junior career as well, winning eight USTA national junior titles as well as the Girls’ 18s title at the Orange Bowl International Junior Championships in 1981 at age 14.

Pedroso, 29, of Coconut Grove, Fla., entered the coaching ranks in 2006 after six years on the pro tour and an outstanding college career at Duke. He was a teaching pro at the Biltmore Tennis Center in Coral Gables, Fla., before serving as the personal coach to top American junior Rhyne Williams, who reached No. 10 in the ITF World Junior Rankings and won a USTA Futures in Pittsburgh at the age of 16 (the youngest player ever to win a USTA Pro Circuit men’s event) under Pedroso’s tutelage. As a pro, Pedroso was ranked as high as No. 271 in the world. He was a two-time All-American at Duke, where he helped lead the Blue Devils to four consecutive ACC Championships.

The new USTA Player Development unit has been created to identify and develop the next generation of American champions by surrounding the top junior players and young pros with the resources, facilities and coaching they need to reach their maximum potential.

Big Cheddar

Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova in the Top 10:

The fellow Nike endorsers continue to flex endorsement power: the 27-year-old Federer and 21-year-old Sharapova are the only tennis players to crack Forbes' top 10 Best-Paid Celebs Under 30 list.

The Williams Sisters followed twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as 11th and 12th on the list of top celebrity earners under 30.

Serena Williams, who endorses Hewlett-Packard, Nike and Kraft, made $14 million, while 28-year-old Venus, who launched her EleVen apparel line last year, earned a reported $13 million.

Entertainer Beyonce Knowles tops the Forbes list , earning a reported $80 million during the past, which is nearly double the $44 million runner-up Justin Timberlake collected during the last year.

Four Nike endorsers rank among the top seven celebrities on the list: NBA stars Kobe Bryant ($39 million) and Lebron James ($38 million) ranked third and fourth followed by the fifth-ranked Federer, who earned $35 million and Sharapova, who came in at seventh (behind "Pirates Of The Caribbean" star Keira Knightley) with reported earnings of $26 million.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Face Of The Day

(Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Pete Sampras of United States talks to the media during the BlackRock Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on December 2, 2008 in London, England.

Wishful Thinking?

Mark Philippoussis still thinks he's got one big run left in his body. More power to him.

French Exhibitionists

Savannah can't wait to see them in action.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

The USTA has chosen Surprise, Arizona, to host the quarterfinal Fed Cup tie against Argentina next February. I'll be surprised if both sisters don't commit, especially since they tend to foreswear regular WTA events between Melbourne and Miami.

World AIDS Day

Get tested. Get treated. Get educated. Get involved. Fight AIDS. Not people.