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Your Call, 2.10 02/10/2009 - 1:17 PM


by Pete Bodo

Hey, how about that call on the USA squeezing out a Fed Cup win? You know, it was hardly on the media radar, and in the grand scheme of tennis things, it probably isn't destined to be what they call a "historic moment" when compared to, oh, Spain's upset of Argentina in the 2008 Davis Cup final, but I guarantee you this: these American girls who turned back Argentina over the weekend are ecstatic, and none more so than Melanie Oudin. After all, she provided WTA staple Gisela Dulko with some pretty firm opposition in the first match, only to lose. Then, in her second match, she endured a 2-6 nightmare of an opening set only to claw her way back into the match and win in three. The comeback win ensured that the tie would go the distance, decided by the final match - the doubles.

Pause a moment to appreciate this: Jill Craybas got the USA off to a good start by hammering Jozami, two-and-one. Oudin then had to play Dulko, with pretty much nothing to lose. Dulko is no. 44 in the world; Oudin no 147. Dulko was playing an underdog to try to keep Argentina's chances alive in the tie, while Oudin could swing from the heels, knowing the USA had a match in hand. If it was a high-stress situation, but only for Dulko. But within 24 hours, it was a different story indeed.

Dulko handled Craybas with ease in the third singles of the tie, so Oudin had to meet Jozami with the US on the brink of elimination. Okay, on paper Jozami had to be the nominal favorite; after all, at no. 134, she was ranked 13 places above Oudin. But the reality on the ground was that Oudin was looking at a winnable match, against an equal, with her team's survival on the line.

The funny thing about "pressure" is that it's something felt equally by all players. The degree of pressure that a David Nalbandian faces upon meeting a Fernando Verdasco, or Nikolay Davydenko encounters when he squares off against James Blake, is no different in intensity or substance than what Oudin must have felt before playing Jozami. You don't feel less or more pressure depending on your status, unless it's notably higher or lower than that of your opponent, or some extraneous factor comes into play. And let's face it, one of the reasons top players are ranked where they are is because of their superior ability to handle pressure - not because there is any more or less of it. Pressure is all about the conditions, and the degree of pressure is created by a potentially volatile mixture of temperament, the match-up, and whatever vibe is in play - in this case, the whole cluster of issues that arise from an international, team competition.

And on that playing field, it's pretty easy to forget that when it comes to any competitive athlete, there's a point where it doesn't matter who is - or isn't - watching. It isn't about the hype, and it isn't about the press. It isn't about the endorsements, and it's not about size of the trophy. It's about you, the team, (vaguely) the nation you represent and, in a small way, about the record books. You go into the books as someone who pulled your team and nation through a tough but winnable tie, and it's. . . sweet. Oh, so sweet! And at some level that we fans and pundits easily ignore because we're so focused on Roger and Wimbledon, Serena and the Masters Series, Rafa and the Davis Cup final, this matters in a way we can understand, but rarely sit back and appreciate.

But this, in a nutshell, is also why people like Melanie Oudin (and Betina Jozami, for surely there will come a time when the shoe is on the other foot) continue to play this game, despite triple-digit rankings, and it's the moments like these when the differences between them and Serena and Ana and Maria are, well, irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that a Wimbledon final is played a few thousand times each year on the tour, on clay, indoors or out, by individuals destined never to decorate the cover of Tennis magazine. Every once in a while, conditions congeal to create a special moment of importance - a break from but also a payoff for all those hours of frustration, tedium, matches whose significance, win or lose, is pretty hard for anyone - including the person experiencing it - to fathom.

But there's also this: Players exist to be found by moments like the one that located Oudin on Sunday, and such moments will enable them to look back on their careers one day and allow them to feel satisfied, to say something like: Yeah, it was tough, I always felt the blow of a setback like a slap in the face, and I know the sting of defeat. But it was worth every hour and ounce of effort I put into it.

So let's share Melanie's moment here, and also acknowledge first-time Fed Cupper, Julie Ditty, who joined with reliable Liezel Huber to clinch the match with a fine performance against Dulko and Jozami in the doubles. Happy 30th birthday, Julie! Here's to hoping it was, indeed, worth the wait.

Any further questions on this, just address them to the ultimate Fed Cup warrior, Flavia Pennetta. But she's a story for a different time. Enjoy the tennis, everyone. I am working on a red-meat coaching post, which I may or may not get done today. Stay tuned, enjoy the tennis and leave your always insightful comments below.

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Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 12:04 PM

aww Jackie.
let's make out.

Posted by crazyone 02/11/2009 at 12:05 PM

so when is the Bolelli slaughter going to occur?

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 12:06 PM

Rachael - Tito and Bol? I do not approve.
If he falls for my boy Seppi then he can't check out somebody else.

I flove Seppi's pic on the front page of his site

Jax - maybe your subconscious was getting back at my subconscious.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:06 PM

As if we needed a reason? :)


Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:08 PM

LOL, Nancy!!! Probs. But I LIKE Nalby.

Blaming it on the stars ... blaming it on the stars ...

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:09 PM

sorry about the office theft , Jackie
that really sucks

and that all of you are feeling out of whack
I think everyone is just kind of on edge these days - what with the economy et al

SC just sent me the bill for season football tickets
They never miss a chance to have their hands out
so - I bought them - stimulating the economy and all
so I am trying to help here
football just ended - and I have seats for next year
maybe I will just go wait down at the Coliseum for things to start again

Posted by gauloises (has anyone seen my tambourine?) 02/11/2009 at 12:10 PM

Unseasonal and off-topic. But I just watched this, like, 7 times in a row to cheer myself up:

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 12:10 PM

Nancy - oh my, Tito & Bol were my first Boldubs experience shortly after I'd been 'converted' last year. they played in Arag and I enjoyed watching them a slightly obscene amount. ahh.

crikes looking at all my tennis screenshots. I've got some from last year's San Jose stream.
the filename of this is "juicytidbit"
god knows what was going on.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 12:11 PM

err...Rachael? Hellooooo? I'm right here.
At least have the decency to make out with Jax behind my back.

Crazyone - I think the Bol slaughter will take place at 1:30 PM TW time. Not sure though.

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 12:11 PM

I feel like I'm talking about Bolelli as if he has already been killed dead by Nadal.

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 12:11 PM

Jackie and G: me three. very out of whack and flat feeling. is it the mid-winter blues? did it all start with typepad? for all of us to be feeling this way, i think it's typepad. someone once referred to TW as their sanctuary. and now someone came in and messed with it.

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 12:13 PM

don't mean to sound so whiney. sorry about that.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:13 PM

beth: And we're certainly doing our part for the economy by attending IW. Yeesh, my bank account is crying.

Nancy: We can make out, too! (Where's Sherlock? ;)

Annie: THAT'S IT! Let's blame Typepad. Although I'm fairly certain car accident girl and laptop stealer man aren't TW members.

Or maybe they are. I SEE YOU.

Posted by Sherlock 02/11/2009 at 12:14 PM


*loves Jackie*

Who needs coffee when I can think about Rachael, Jackie, and Nancy making out. :)

"maybe I will just go wait down at the Coliseum for things to start again"

LOL. Love that visual, Beth. :)

Posted by Master Ace 02/11/2009 at 12:15 PM

Francesca/Jelena should be starting shortly from Paris while Rafael/Simone match will start in 75-90 minutes from Rotterdam.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:15 PM

OMG, and there's Sherlock answering the call.

That was wonderfully creepy.

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:16 PM

Jackie - we certainly are - pats self on back for being such a helpful citizen
keeping the hotel and restaurant workers of the California desert employed
yeah us !

I do think typepad is the problem
let's blame them

now - I also have to stimulate the economy with by purchasing new clothes for the desert
not sure when I am going to shop - but I will

Posted by 02/11/2009 at 12:16 PM

Rosangel 02/11/2009 @ 10:46 AM

"At Queen's I got to sit next to Rafa's box for one match - the result was that I got a load of shots in which he appeared to be looking straight at me, because he so often directs his fist-pumps and other gestures towards his support team."

* * * * * *

Also looks over to get all the coaching prompts Uncle Tony.....

Posted by Sherlock 02/11/2009 at 12:17 PM

Dang. Am I that transparent, Jackie? :))

Posted by Rachael 02/11/2009 at 12:17 PM

ugh. 75-90 minutes isn't a very long time to suddenly stop caring about tennis.

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 12:17 PM

Jackie: oh i'd forgotten about your accident. that could certainly be why you're not feeling your normal self. and who had their laptop stolen?

btw, did you see the discussion yesterday with avid about the rumor that IW has taken down pictures of Serena? and someone posted that you and beth and any twibers that are going to IW should check that out to see if it's true.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:17 PM

beth, I need wardrobe advice. Should I be prepared for mega-heat? Tanks and shorts?

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:18 PM

Sherlock - your entrance was right on cue
yep - I could just go sit there - in my cardinal and gold
eating those bacon wrapped hot dogs from the street vendors
course, it is not in the best of LA neighborhoods - so I might never be seen again
but , if I make it - I would be ready for football
at least I have tickets

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:19 PM

Sherlock, that or we're just cosmically connected. Let's go with the latter. :)

Annie, some creep came in and stole a bunch of lappies from our office. *shakes head*

And I suppose I'm not surprised about the IW thing. Shame, really.

Posted by Rosangel 02/11/2009 at 12:20 PM

Unfortunately I didn't get the smile during the Karlovic match, Aubrey - he was looking the other way, I think.

I do recall that BBC viwers liked it so much that there was a rerun of that moment by request the following day.

Try out this Rafa look, post-Bjorkman:

Anyone who wants more Rafa pics - click my name in blue. Most of them are accssible from that web page.

I still have some unpublished pics from the end of last year, which I'm saving for my writeup on the Rafa Euro-spectator Slam.

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 12:20 PM

Rachael - I (and clearly Jax too) can help you stop caring about tennis. Just say the word. ;)

I'd pay to see Sherlock's face right now.

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 12:20 PM

Why is JJ dressed like a pumpkin?

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:24 PM

Annie - will look around for photos of Serena
but , frankly cannot remember ever seeing any of her there in the first place
except in the tents where the Nike clothes are sold
they do not tend to promote tournaments with players who are not going to play
that is called false advertising
I don't think it has anything to do with race on their part
if she were to be there in the draw - I am sure her pictures would be prominently displayed
but I will check it out

Jackie - will give you up to the minute weather / fashion advice as the time draws near
this week it is cold here - ok - cold for southern california -
we will just have to wait and see what is coming
I always recommend layering here - even at night in the desert the temperature drops so a light jacket or sweater is comfortable
casual is always ok - jeans , tops , shorts in the daytime maybe a cute mini skirt on you cute younger girls
but comfort is key - a good hat for the sun
2 years ago it was freaking hot - lost year it was cold and windy
wind is always a prominent weather feature in the desert -
will let you know

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 12:25 PM

Seriously. My eyes. My innocent eyes.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:25 PM

gauloises: I feel compelled to make some joke here about Fairygate, Federer, and Cinderella, but I'll refrain.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:26 PM

Thanks, beth! Who needs when I have you? :)

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 12:29 PM

Jackie, I wish I'd thought of that. I was busy turning over listless zingers about Hallowe'en in my mind.

Posted by Sherlock 02/11/2009 at 12:29 PM

Nancy, I'm sending you the paramedic's bill for restarting my heart. :)

Cosmically connected sounds perfect, Jackie. :)

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/11/2009 at 12:29 PM

Hey crazyone,

just curious, when did you spot Ernests? Was it a long time ago? Cause you are totally outfanning me and I used to think I was the only fan on this board! :)

Also, that movie is a-do-ra-ble!

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:30 PM

LOL, gauloises. Yep, that's what you get when you talk smack about the Fed.

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/11/2009 at 12:31 PM

I am NOT scrolling through the posts to see what happened, btw. Sorry. So if anyone ever asks me something and you think I'm ignoring you, it's only cause I am not going to hit previous buttons all day long.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *all is good now* 02/11/2009 at 12:31 PM

Hello good people!

Commiseration to Ferru fans. also sorry to hear about Domi needing to pull out due to viral infection. I hope she recovers fully soon.

Congrats to Mrs Gilles Simon and her hubby's fans;-), Bissy and Mario fans, crazyone and PEHK fans and all the other winners for today.

All is well with momma ReRe. Hi fives to izidane, tennisesq., temes, and all other Serena fans.

Cnote must be a happy camper now that Ana has a new coach ;-)

Posted by Annie 02/11/2009 at 12:31 PM

Beth: actually, the pictures in question were of past champions and serena is a two-time champ there. No, she's not on the promo materials. I commented that if the pics were taken down, it might have been at her request. don't know enough details. it's just a rumor at this point.

Posted by Jackie 02/11/2009 at 12:32 PM

avid, you're adorable. :)

And Sher, I'm with you. I detest the pagination. Horribly. Even if they upped it to 250 comments, I'd still loathe it.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *all is good now* 02/11/2009 at 12:36 PM

jackie - awh I'm blushing :">

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 12:36 PM

Sherlock - LOL!
I heart you :)

In other news, the Argies DC team might be like this:
Nalby, Schwank, Arnold Ker and Pico.

Posted by Samantha Elin 02/11/2009 at 12:37 PM

Good luck to Frannie, would love to see her win it.

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" *all is good now* 02/11/2009 at 12:38 PM

*waves to Nancy* I'm sorry that Ferru lost. How are you doing today?
Why would they drop DelPotro out of the team and replace him with Schwank? What about Acasuso?

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 12:39 PM

I know nothing about Arnold Ker. Did he nearly die or something?

JJ looks in pretty good nick gamewise. But urgh. Dress. Bra. Shoes. Fail.

Posted by gauloises 02/11/2009 at 12:40 PM

avid - I think JMDP decided not to play.

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:41 PM

Annie - ok - I will look at the past champion photos
cannot imagine that they would remove them unless it was at her request
but - who knows what they are thinking

I would be very careful listening to rumors of this nature
That a few unsavory characters made inappropriate remarks to Serena and Venus has been documented . To say that those attitudes are held by the organizers of an event as big as IW and that they acted upon them - is a whole different story.

Posted by beth 02/11/2009 at 12:43 PM

ok - I am out for a while
hope to be back for Rafa's match
but if not
the Vanos, Rafa!

Posted by Sher (On TypePad no one can hear you scream) 02/11/2009 at 12:45 PM

avid sports fan, glad to see from your header you are doing better now :)

Posted by Nancy 02/11/2009 at 12:46 PM

Hey Avid :)
It's ok, Ferru's results are no shock anymore. You know who I'm really pissed at? Korolev.
well, they're not dropping Delpo, he (I think) asked to be excused from the first tie (Gaul correct me if I'm wrong) but he'll be joining the team again in the QF (if they make and they should)
I think the coming tie is the perfect timing to try Schwank. They should consider all their options, after the last DC, they should really have back up players. Besides, Vasquez must have a totally different strategy than Mancini's. I'm anxious to see how it all turns out. And I'm excited that Arnold is in the team. He's a great dubs player.
As for Chucho, just give that poor guy a break from DC, it will be criminal to make him play again that soon.

Gaul - he had cancer.

Posted by Rosangel 02/11/2009 at 12:49 PM

A new Your Call is now up. Closing here.

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