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The Long Knives of Newport 02/24/2010 - 2:29 PM

53197325 by Pete Bodo

Nick Bollettieri has confirmed that he was bypassed for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, that odd institution situated in the once-formidable bastion of the America's elites, Newport, R.I. The town was a playground for the rich and well-born of the Gilded age, those Astors and Vanderbilts, whose spectacular stone mansions still line Bellevue Ave., within walking distance of the ITHF. But it was a Navy town for a period as well, and today, as a kind of quirky resort town, it's an interesting hodgepodge of historical and cultural values.

I write "odd" because the ITHF, housed in the Newport Casino, is a shrine still (and appropriately) enveloped in the honeyed glow of the game's patrician roots. But it has striven mightily to remain relevant in the new, Open era (if anything 40-plus years old can be called "new"). Anyone can book a court and play on the grass courts of the Casino, and hosting an unabashedly commercial event like the Campbell's (Soup) Hall of Fame Championships (the ATP 250 that takes place right after Wimbledon), certainly doesn't smack of hoity-toity elitism - although one suspects that one or another Campbell must have at some point put his feet up in one of those spired mansions. Belcourt Castle, perhaps, or Rosecliff?

Actually, it's easy to go all Monty Python on historical Newport, but here's a telling fact that sums up the past hundred or so years in tennis: the tiebreaker wasn't the brainchild of some savvy former player, television executive (although Bob Monsbach of CBS still sacrifices a virgin daily in sheer gratitude for it), or pushy ITF type. It was thought up, promoted (to deaf ears, for quite some time) and ultimately sold to the Lords of Tennis by James "Jimmy" van Alen. Now there was a guy (Jimmy, that is), for whom Belcourt Castle itself might have seemed like nothing more than a cozy guest house somewhere at the back of his property. Somewhere along the line I heard that van Alen was heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, but I can't confirm that.  But his blood lines certainly were blue.

Van Alen gave the USTA the Newport Casino in 1954, and yet another national landmark was saved from becoming a parking lot (that's the literal truth). Once you get over asking yourself, Why couldn't he give it to me instead?, you can see the beauty in the gesture. Van Alen was what you might call a progressive patrician, in that he was eager to see the game of tennis outgrow places like the Newport Casino, and he wholly supported the idea of opening up the place to the public. That helps put into context his stroke of genius, the tiebreaker. Van Alen's original version was a sudden-death, nine-point affair, with the players alternating two serves each. If the score reached 4-all, the receiver had choice of court in which to take the final serve.

I'm old enough to remember the days when the umpire would take out a little red flag and plant it in the chair, indicating that a tiebreaker was in progress. And at that point, if van Alen was present, he would rise from the chair in his court-side box (he was an elfin man with a shock of white hair and a florid, cherubic face - not exactly an image that evokes the word, "patrician") and rather dramatically wave to the crowd.

There you have it, the old world of tennis helping to shape the new. A very welcome symbol of continuity in a sport that was in some other ways buffeted and torn asunder by professionalism. It's a distinctly American story, I think, and a tribute to flexible society where lines of class and other imposed distinctions (like degree of wealth) are not as clearly drawn or as difficult to cross, one way or the other or even back and forth, as in many other societies.

Which more or less brings us to Bollettieri. I can't for the life of me figure out how he was not selected for induction into the ITHF without pulling at the loose threads dangling in the paragraph above. Bollettieri was nominated in the Contributor category, which acknowledges the value of selected administrators, officials, coaches and even members of the media. The enshrinees in those categories are not selected by a vote (as are those in the "Recent Player" category, to which I annually contribute my own vote), but by an "International Masters Panel" that includes enshrinees as well as "individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history." (That's from the HoF's own copy.)

I suspect that this panel is just another variation on the Old Boy Network, and that the long knives of prejudice were out in Newport when it came time to discuss Bollettieri's nomination. Bollettieri has certainly been a controversial figure through much of his career, if less so now. Yet he's always been ignored or villified less for anything he did (presuming we've gotten beyond that simplistic notion that tennis academies are evil incarnate) than for his personal style and image. The genteel selectors presumably don't have a taste for mirrored shades, or for the kind of guy who has sat bare-chested on the balcony of his room in Paris's George V hotel, taking the sun with his portable reflector.

The Contributors category includes a pile of journalists, but few people I can identify by name as coaches (Harry Hopman is an outstanding exception). And I know that a fair number of enshrined contributors lobbied vigorously for enshrinement, while others - Rex Bellamy, anyone? - have been ignored, probably because they didn't push themselves or work their contacts on the panel hard enough.

I point this out because I imagine that one of the impediments Bollettieri faced to enshrinement is that he has lobbied vigorously - he'd love nothing more than to be recognized by the ITHF. One of Nick's better qualities is that he isn't afraid to admit that. But if others have helped promote themselves into the hall, why should Bollettieri be shunned for doing the same? The only real answer I can come up with is personal  prejudice against Bollettieri - something like the animus that kept Graham Greene from being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature (if you believe the literary gossip). That's what happens when a "panel" picks and chooses whom to honor, and whom not.

I'm got going to bore anyone with a recitation of Bollettieri's credentials; they are manifest and multi-faceted. Whether you like his style or not, his track record speaks for itself. But I will make one point that strikes me has highly ironic, given the presumption that Bollettieri's image as a vulgar fellow (in the dictionary sense of the adjective) is an obstacle to enshrinement: Nick has always promoted a Harry Hopman-esque brand of discipline and he tolerates no on-court misconduct. Andre Agassi, his most renowned protege, certainly had his innings as a screwball  early in his career. And look where he stands in the public eye now (curiously, I see a parallel in the "journeys" taken by Andre and Nick). A few other Bolletteri-ites have had their moments, too. But that's all they were. Is there a better citizen of the tennis community than Jim Courier? Or Monica Seles? if you make a list of the most controversial players of this era, you won't find a single Bollettieri protege graduate on it.

In other words, Bollettieri has represented values that can be said to be desirable in and appropriate for a coach aspiring to earn a place in the HoF (although there's no "morality" clause in the nomination guidelines).

Or think of it this way: Bollettieri represents continuity in tennis much more convincingly and even honorably than many of those who deny him admission might like to think. That just adds another insult to injury. It's nothing less than perverse to deny Bollettieri a place in the HoF, and when you look at the names of some people who are in as contributors, and compare their accomplishments in tennis to those of Bollettieri, it just adds to the suspicion that the admissions panel operates in an imperious and self-interested manner, blind to its own mandate.

I'd like to think that Jimmy van Alen himself is rolling over in his grave. The same "traditionalists" who think Bollettieri is too much of a self-promoting showman (while ignoring the conflicts, self-interested motives, or other flaws of some enshrined contributors) also tried to stop the tiebreaker from "ruining" the game.

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Posted by thebigapple 02/24/2010 at 02:43 PM

Just wandering by...nothing yet to look at.

Posted by Master Ace 02/24/2010 at 02:50 PM

Footfault judge at USO tirade speaks via SI interview:

Posted by The Fan Child 02/24/2010 at 02:56 PM

So Nick will be on the ballot again next year? And who was actually voted in in the "contribution" category? I suspect it will just be a matter of time, and a matter of a few more pieces like this which point to the fact that Bollettieri's contributions certainly are worthy of HOF status.

Posted by CL 02/24/2010 at 02:56 PM

MA - thank you for that. Fascinating in what it didn't say.

BTW- did you see the other SI tennis article...about the US men's game?

Posted by Jill 02/24/2010 at 02:58 PM

Oh Come on Mr.

Posted by skip1515 02/24/2010 at 03:00 PM

FWIW, Campbell Soup Company was started (in neighboring Camden, NJ) by Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson, who left the company. John Dorrance, also a local, became a partner. His family is still involved in the company today, as well as with various Philadelphia charities.

Posted by tina 02/24/2010 at 03:01 PM

Shame on the HoF! Having lived in Rhode Island off-and-on for a few years, it's a state I still can't figure out. There's that patrician WASP thing - and then there's "Family Guy". A number of those WASPS got the family money from rum-running during Prohibition. The man I refer to as "Uncle Nick" surely deserves a place based on his contribution to the sport. I'm rescinding my membership in protest.

Posted by Jill 02/24/2010 at 03:04 PM

Oh Come on Mr. bodo,

Who really gives a toss about this- why would one even waste time pondering Mr. Bolletieri's supposed injustices-is it b/c you are of the same septugarian age bracket?And who is this old guy anyway?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 03:07 PM

Fan Child: that's what I was thinking. There's always next year. And maybe he shouldn't lobby so hard? It's been my impression that these committees want to have the pleasure of bestowing these honors freely rather than being rassled into it.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 03:08 PM

Interesting, Pete. And, I agree that it's crazy not to have NB in the HoF.

Nick Bollettieri has confirmed that he was bypassed for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, that odd institution situated in the once-formidable bastion of the America's elites, Newport, R.I.

What does this mean? Bypassed forever? Bypassed this year, with potential to get in next year? Bypassed pending Sharapova's career?

Is the selection process like the NFL HoF? With a list of nominees and a ballot? Who votes?

Posted by Master Ace 02/24/2010 at 03:10 PM

Yes, I did on about the Americans and what direction is going.

Posted by Master Ace 02/24/2010 at 03:12 PM

Bypassed in this text means for 2010. Ballot does have a list of nominees and it is voted on by the tennis establishment(ie - Bud Collins). Think doubles rule this year lead by the Woodies.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 03:16 PM

MA, thanks. Well, I'm sure they'll rectify this situation at some point. NB is a truly iconic figure in tennis (hey maybe we could make a few NB icons) and the HoF would be a joke without him. It's like not having Harry Hopman or Ion Tiriac...did I just put those two in the same sentence? Sorry, Harry.

Posted by Master Ace 02/24/2010 at 03:17 PM

Thursday Order of Play:

WTA: Kuala Lumper at 1 AM - Amanumuradova vs Bammer, Scheepers vs Malek and Lertcheewakrn vs Rybarikova scheduled
WTA: Kuala Lumpur at 5 AM - Zheng vs Chang
ATP: Dubai at 5 AM - Melzer vs Cilic to be followed by Tipsarevic vs Youzhny(LIVE or delayed by a few minutes on Tennis Channel)
ATP: Dubai at 10 AM - Ljubicic vs Djokovic to be followed by Baghdatis vs Berrer(LIVE or delayed by a few minutes on Tennis Channel)
ATP: Delray Beach at 12:30 PM - Matches to be determined
ATP: Acapulco at 4 PM - Matches to be determined(LIVE or delayed by a few minutes on Tennis Channel)
WTA: Acapulco at 4 PM - Matches to be determined
ATP: Delray Beach at 7:15 PM - Matches to be determined
ATP: Acapulco at 10 PM - Match to be determined(LIVE or delayed by a few minutes on Tennis Channel)

Posted by Master Ace 02/24/2010 at 03:18 PM

Mr. X. will get on you for mentioning the Evil Blue Lord with Hopman.

Posted by robbyfan 02/24/2010 at 03:19 PM

I think this smacks of NOKD. Not our kind dear.

Posted by Sherlock 02/24/2010 at 03:19 PM

Cool post, Pete. Thanks. I love hearing you talk about the historical stuff, in addition to the story about Bollettieri.

Posted by Ruth 02/24/2010 at 03:21 PM

It's OK for the HoF to select and honor those persons whose contributions to tennis may not be very well known to the public; in fact, that should be one of the purposes of the HoF -- honoring those who have done great work behind the scenes for the good of tennis. But for the HoF not to have already honored a man whose contributions as a coach are stellar and well-known is, to put it mildly, ridiculous.

Posted by Wendy Grossman 02/24/2010 at 03:29 PM

At the risk of being mean...yes, Bollettieri has been tirelessly dedicated to tennis. But as much as I like Courier, Seles (who claimed later that NB nearly derailed her game by trying to make it more orthodox), Agassi (who was the only NB pupil to begin to achieve real success while still *with* NB), Pierce, Jankovic, and all the many others who've spent time at NB's using the facilities, it is completely arguable that NB's style of teaching, optimized for hard court bashing, is a big reason that tennis, especially American tennis, is by and large a boring monoculture. Where are the Americans who can play on clay? Where are the Americans with games even half as varied as Federer, Henin, Mauresmo?

Perhaps the HOF's reluctance has something to do with blaming NB for the death of volleying, for persistently telling players to hit as hard as they can and not worry their pretty little, none-too-bright heads about strategy. Maybe that's not entirely fair because the equipment (racquets, strings, shoes) has changed too.

If they let in Lansdorp but not NB, *then* it's personal.


Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 03:31 PM

Thanks Pete for this most interesting post.

I agree with Ruth I would have thought by now Nick would have been honored

Makes me think,what does one have to do.

Posted by Andrew 02/24/2010 at 03:35 PM

CL: continuing a conversation from the previous thread.

It's true I haven't been around TW much in the last few days - tons of other stuff going on. So if I missed lots of Fed fans saying, "hey, Nadal types, this not only reminds us of mono/back days, but also what you guys have been dealing with in the last 9 months or so. Hang in there," well, my bad.

As an Englishman *waves to Anglophiles out there* the Hall of Fame concept is not quite our sort of thing, but I wish Mr Bollettieri well. I'm not convinced his impact on the sport has been aesthetically positive, but it's a considerable impact.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 03:36 PM

I want to know who is responsible for the screaming that I find so abhorrent in the women's game. Sometimes Nick gets blamed for that and I don't know if it's accurate or fair.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 03:48 PM

anybody having trouble with typebad? getting weird messages about
previewing comments?

Posted by sokol 02/24/2010 at 04:19 PM

"anybody having trouble with typebad? getting weird messages about
previewing comments?"

me too, plus I couldn't post for some time...

Posted by tina 02/24/2010 at 04:21 PM

Wow, it's been ages since I've seen or used "NOKD". LOL!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 04:22 PM

testing I am

Posted by VC (200 n.o.!) 02/24/2010 at 04:49 PM

Reeshard has taken the first set 6-3 from Almagro...

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 04:52 PM

What has this got to do with anything? Eh?

“I thought that maybe I needed someone I could in some way identify with. And Rafael Nadal is a person who has been totally committed to his career since he was very young, since he was 17, I believe,” she said.

Courtesy C Note.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 04:53 PM

Oops...sorry, wrong thread.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 02/24/2010 at 04:59 PM

After Hopman stopped coaching the Australian Davis Cup team, he spent time as an advisor/unofficial coach to the Romanian Davis Cup team featuring . . . . Tiriac and Nastases.

So Hopman is owed no apologies.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports has once again incensed sports fans. On the U.S. West Coast, NBC is time-delaying showing the U.S.-Switzerland hockey game.

Posted by Ray T. 02/24/2010 at 05:02 PM

Great post "Wendy Grossman" and I couldn't agree more with what you said. Yes the equipment has changed, but NB has delivered nothing but baseline clones who can neither serve, volley or come up with a plan B...

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 05:02 PM

Allez Richard!

VC I forgot to congratulate on Tendulker's amazing score and made history in one day cricket.

Posted by greenhopper 02/24/2010 at 05:09 PM

Urgh, Nico. This is clay and you're playing Richard Gasquet.

Meanwhile, Monty Python was serving for the set, but Pablo wins 3 games to take the set 7-5. Vamos!

Posted by VC (200 n.o.!) 02/24/2010 at 05:10 PM

Thanks, Aussiemarg, it was nail-biting to watch at the end, fortunately I woke up in time. :-)

Posted by manuelsantanafan 02/24/2010 at 05:11 PM

I checked with my Mom, the Spanish teacher, regarding the phrase, "I identify with," as used by Colombians.

Apparently, when a Colombian lass says that she "identifies with" some guy she wants to sleep with him.

OK. I made that up.

BTW, one of the most pathetic excuses I've heard for missing a few weeks of classes was given by one of my Mom's students.

His excuse: A snowmobile accident

Involving? Not the student.

Not one of the student's parents.

Not one of the student's children.

Not one of the student's siblings.

But a cousin of the student.

Apparently, my Mom accepted this excuse.


Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 05:26 PM

VC, yeah, congrats on Tendulkar's amazing performance. Now, all he needs is a World Cup, and we can crown him ODI GOAT.

Posted by Yet Another Lurker 02/24/2010 at 05:35 PM

Can someone please explain this post to me? Tennis snobbery is bad (boo Mercedes! yay Corona! boo International Tennis Hall of Fame! yay Nick Bolletieri). Wait, except for that aristocrat who invented the tiebreak. But he was small and red, not very aristocratic, and a man of the people.

Still, since an aristocrat (albeit one in a "flexible society where lines of class and other imposed distinctions... are not as clearly drawn or as difficult to cross, one way or the other or even back and forth, as in many other societies") invented the tiebreak, there's a connection between tennis then and tennis now.

And so, Nick Bolletieri. The Nazi (long knives?) administrators didn't elect the man to the Hall of Fame even though he is responsible for the respect in which Agassi is held in the game. In fact, all Bolletieri's players are paragons, proving he is classy after all. So classy is Bolletieri that, in conclusion, were a populist patrician in charge we'd live in a world in which we could celebrate tiebreaks and Nick Bolletieri's election to the Hall of Fame. Did I get the gist?

Pete doesn't seem to know the difference between analysis, commentary and puffery.

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 05:36 PM

Hi everyone.
Would it be wrong if i said i'm looking forward to "identifying" with some lady this weekend?:)

Seriously now, what's going on with the top guys in the ATP. I never thought i would say this a year ago, but Nole seems to be the only one who's able to avoid injury/illness problems. Now, Kolya retires from Dubai with wrist problems (there are a lot of wrist problems going on lately), Lestat loses to Tipsy, and apparently he was feeling his back, and Jo also loses, and reportedly he had some stomach discomfort. I think every top ten guy has had some injury issues so far this year, and we arent even in March!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 05:51 PM

Mr.X: nole has a weak stomach. No really, it's the walking wounded in the atp right now. I hope the field isn't too decimated at IW.

okay, tell me what you think of this guy's theory. I understand it's much more fun to envision the she-wolf and baby bull doing the dirty but anyway:

I wasn't sure what tina was referring to in her earlier post but in case she wasn't aware, Shakira's albumn is called "she-wolf."

Posted by chicklet 02/24/2010 at 05:56 PM

Great lob by Gasquet to go up 4-0 in the third against Almagro.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 05:58 PM

in case anyone is not looking - just gonna point out
that at present Reeshard is up 4-0 in the third over Almagro - in Acapulco - on clay

that is right - Gasquet is on track to bagel Almagro on clay - at the tournament Nico has won the past 2 years ( I believe )

Am I dreaming ?

Posted by Ruth 02/24/2010 at 05:58 PM

FYI, the 31 ITHF contributor honorees (courtesy of Wikipedia, since I could not find the contributors listed separately anywhere on the official HoF site):

Contributor category
Name Nationality Year inducted
Adams, Russ United States 2007
Adee, George United States 1964
Baker, Lawrence United States 1975
Chatrier, Philippe France 1992
Clerici, Gianni Italy 2006
Collins, Bud United States 1994
Cullman III, Joseph United States 1990
Danzig, Allison United States 1968
David, Herman Great Britain 1998
Dell, Donald United States 2009
Gray, David Great Britain 1985
Griffin, Clarence United States 1970
Gustav V of Sweden Sweden 1980
Heldman, Gladys United States 1979
Hester, William United States 1981
Hunt, Lamar United States 1993
Jones, Perry United States 1970
Kelleher, Robert United States 2000
Laney, Al United States 1979
McCormack, Mark United States 2008
Myrick, Julian United States 1963
Nielsen, Arthur United States 1971
Outerbridge, Mary United States 1979
Scott, Eugene United States 2008
Tinling, Ted Great Britain 1986
Tobin, Brian Australia 2003
Van Alen, James United States 1965
Wingfield, Walter Clopton Great Britain 1997

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 05:59 PM

Come on Richard.Dont lose focus now

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:00 PM

ok - well - no bagel to be served
but still - Gasquet is ahead 4-1

( sadly ,knowing Gasquet - if anyone can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - he is a most likely candidate )

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:00 PM

No Beth you arent dreaming lol!

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:00 PM

If you want my honest opinion, i dont think this is an issue at all. Nadal went and did a music video with Shakira. So what? Whatever they are doing there, they are acting (well, she is acting, and he's trying). It probably took as long as making one of the several commercials he has done before, and i dont take it any farther than that. End of the story. Thing is, it's good to make some jokes about it.
Ok, end of the "serious" stuff. Back to making ironic comments about identifying.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:02 PM

come on , Reeshard

prove me wrong
prove all the naysayers wrong

keep your focus and win this match
you can do this

Posted by VC (200 n.o.!) 02/24/2010 at 06:03 PM

Pspace : I wish... :-( Indian bowlers have historically sucked, so I don't fancy our chances. Individually, his World Cup performances have been brilliant though, so it shouldn't affect his ODI legacy.. but it would be great if India could win a WC in 2011 under home conditions. Actually, I'm not even sure I care much about limited overs cricket anymore because it's a contest between two batting sides, bowlers are reduced to an irrelevance. A Test century is worth a lot more. This particular record will probably be broken much sooner than you expect, when a top side takes on a minnow in the next World Cup.

However his record of 93 (let's hope he gets to 100!) centuries in International Cricket should stand the test of time.

Posted by chicklet 02/24/2010 at 06:07 PM

ESPN360 always cuts off the match at the 2 hour mark until they can start a new stream. It's incredibly frustrating. Why can't they just allocate fours hours for a match and then trim the archived match?

And now it's back in time to see that Almagro has won 3 games to make it 4-3.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:07 PM

Mr.X: in my best singsong voice..."she's not acting..." :)

Ruth: thank you so much for getting that list. I'm going to give it a look see. the first name that popped out at me was Lamar Hunt. huh? I think he was an early backer
of WTT?

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:08 PM

About the field for IW, i dont want to ruin for the TW ladies attending, but things certainly dont look very good. Let's see:
Fed- doubtful at best, since we dont really know how sick he is. He attended the players' party, so it doesnt seem very bad, but attending a party is one thing, playing a Masters 1000 a very different one.
Rafa- Looks like he will be there. Form is questionable, of course.
Nole- Unless soemthing weird happens, he will be there, but he's prone to weird stomach things, and he isnt at his best.
Muzz- He'll be there, but he seems to have some issues. Hopefully, he will get his form back and Dubai was just to get some match play.
Delpo- According to the recovery times they gave when his injury was announced, he's probably gonna be out.
Kolya- Just retired from a tournament, although he'll probably be there.
Roddick- He'll probably be there, but he's been having injury issues this year.

Gee, it looks like an episode of ER. It could still be an almost full field, as Delpo is the only one who appeard very doubtful, but it could also turn into a retirement-fest.
Hope the TW ladies will enjoy a great tournament though.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:09 PM

Almagro the head case?

Come on Richard Allez and all that!

Posted by Corrie 02/24/2010 at 06:10 PM

I tend to agree with the view that Nick has maybe had a lot of successs but that it's more dubious how good a direction it's been for American tennis.

I seem to remember that Agassi in his book was rather dismissive of Nick's actual tennis knowledge and even his ability to be supportive in high stress situations such as in the rain delays of his first finals at RG. It wasn't clear just why he hung on to him for so long, and then only to have Nick dump him by letter after telling the media before he told Agassi.

Yet Another Lurker, I saw your comments on the OTT British commentators on Murray and I heartily agree. As a colonial who married a Pom and lived in Britain, I found the media there quite schizophrenic, from ouststandingly good to unbelievably dire. But when it comes to sport they've got a massive chip on the shoulder. They're making it very tough for Murray. He already looks a bundle of stress with his mouth openings like a stranded fish and his clutching at every available body part.

Posted by greenhopper 02/24/2010 at 06:10 PM

"Back to making ironic comments about identifying."
You're getting really good at this English language thing. Kudos.

Nico/Gasket is archived in espn360? Sweet.
Back on serve? Vamos Nico!

Posted by chicklet 02/24/2010 at 06:12 PM

Oh Richard. Up two breaks and now back on serve. What does it take for you to close out a match?

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:13 PM

"fingers in ears , and eyes covered"

La , la , la , la , la , la , la
I am not watching this match
geez- dude - beat this little creep
He leered at "your girl " - get mad - kick his butt
you were ahead - hold on man

Le sigh

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:14 PM

So much for my thinking almagro was injured with a broken arm.

Mr.X: It's one of the reasons I chose the first weekend. better chance of seeing the top guys before they retire/lose/throw up. If Fed is a no, I'm hoping Nole is asked to be the fourth in the exo. Apparently he was belly dancing at the player party. He will give rafa so much grief. It will be beautiful.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:15 PM

Mr X - as long as Feli , Nando and Rafa are there - I will have something to watch
don't you worry about me

but thanks for the thoughts

Posted by Peg 02/24/2010 at 06:17 PM

Annie, likewise having problems with TW.typepad.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:18 PM

CL - maybe I am asking for too much this year
first the Saints - now Richard ?

but - all the tennis gods can say is no , right ?
so I will ask

Besides , Mr X - Richard will be there - so I will be able to watch and be frustrated , thus having a reason to drink those desert rose martinis -
see something good in all things
good - the bleeding has stopped - he held serve for 5 all

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:19 PM

what 'hopper said about your english X. I'm in awe of all the posters here who chatter away and write in english and it isn't their native language. makes me feel terribly inadequate that i can't speak a second language. or write one apparently because my spelling has been terrible lately as well.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:20 PM

I wonder if Muzz is a little mentally hurt after the Oz final. Loss like that is like a blow to the family jewels. Might take him some time to get over it. Anyways, he mentioned that he hardly practiced for Dubai...tad unprofessional if you ask me.

Anyways, it's GS or bust this year for him. And, he needs to show some improvement on clay.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:22 PM

beth: more importantly for richard missie will be there!!

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:24 PM

Pspace Andy is a professinal tennis player last time I checked

If he cant take the heat of losing maybe Playstations is the way to go

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:25 PM

Mean while Richard pls!

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:27 PM

Actually, you were probably the one i thought would do better no matter what, just judging from the general tone of your comments here:) But obviously, going to such a big tournament and not getting the big guys at their best would feel anticlimatic. I know it would for me, althought to mirror your thoughts, with the Hott Woz, Ana I and Flavia there, i would probably be just fine.

Maybe Almagro is upset that he didnt get in the DC team. However, many guys have to fall out of the team for him to get in. I'm interested in watching these new doubles team we are gonna bring.

Well, Annie and greenhopper, thanks for the kind words, but my spelling is often very wrong, although most of it is due to typos. I do a lot of those even in Spanish, because of trying to type faster than i have the ability to do.

What's the issue with TypePad, Peg? Because it has been doing something weird to me for some time, but i found a way to get my posts through.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:27 PM

exactly , Annie
He will be much happier to see her , than to see me at his matches , I am sure

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:29 PM

typebad is acting up. boo.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 02/24/2010 at 06:30 PM

refreshing 2X seems to get that weird message to go away.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:30 PM

AM, hehe, cut him some slack. Even our boy took a little time to recover after Wimby '07 ;-). Though, that was worse than this one.

Posted by Tfactor 02/24/2010 at 06:31 PM

So this is where everybody is, I was talking to myself on the other thread, apparently.

Almagro with a match point.

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:32 PM

Hey, Pspace, since you are such a proud Rafaelite now, what do you care about this vampiric being?:)

Seriously, probably he just went to Dubai for the appearance money, and to get some match practice. I wonder if the physical issues have some relevance or not. About the not practicing thing, i guess he couldnt really tell the people at Marseille: "Well, i know i've commited, but this videogame just got truly interesting, and i just cant leave it now, man!"

Annie, word about Nole for the exho if Fed is out. Although the star power would clearly go down, he can be more entertaining than Fed. Between him and Andre, they would probably spend the whole exho asking Rafa about Shakira:)

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:33 PM

this is s really long tough game here
Almagro has had 3 match points - but RIchard has saved them all
so far

Posted by greenhopper 02/24/2010 at 06:33 PM

How many match points did he save with aces? Ridiculous.
201 points in this match so far.

Posted by Pam 02/24/2010 at 06:34 PM

"I see a parallel in the "journeys" taken by Andre and Nick. Care to elaborate Pete?

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:35 PM

Pspace Cut him some slack.I have been for some time

He had a perfect draw into the final of the AO losing one set on the way? Come On I was live at that final

Also at Dubai he could have made a statement the court suits his game.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:35 PM

Mr. X, Muzz doing well would keep Fed from gaining too many points, and Rafa can make a quicker jump back to #1...where he rightfully belongs. Is that the party line? ;-)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:36 PM

Pspace By the way you can Cut Out Our Boy business by the way

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:36 PM

tiebreak - exchanging mini breaks
RG - up 2-1

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:38 PM

Give me strength I did see this coming

Mr X and Pspace together

Just what Rafa needs at this point in time

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:38 PM

LOL, AM. I see Madame President isn't too welcoming of newcomers. Ok..Shakira's boy then.

Posted by Peg 02/24/2010 at 06:39 PM

Mr X - weird intermittent comment-form hang since Sunday.

Wait, Richie was up 4-1 and it's Almagro with the match points? Oy.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:41 PM

Good grief Richard.Pfft.

Pspace Oh yes I am

One Demerit Card coming your way

For mentioning Her Name

Posted by greenhopper 02/24/2010 at 06:42 PM

They're exchanging mini-breaks like it's Christmas. Is anyone watching this?

Posted by Legoboy 02/24/2010 at 06:43 PM

Simple comment, as I don't know much about it.....but I'll say this:

If you hear about an acadamy, and a student, it's almost always Nick B's (I know there's others...but not by name, and no, it's not cause i'm American, cause i'm not). That alone should carry some favor in it.
Jankovic, Sharapova etc...I'm sure there are many many more.

That's sad for him.....recognition for effort is important, don't punish him for wanting it that much more!

Next year I suppose.

Posted by Tfactor 02/24/2010 at 06:44 PM

How many MPs is that for Almagro already?
This is the tiebreak they both want to lose, I think.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:44 PM

well- at least both men are fighting for this one
probably not the prettiest match if I could see it - ( no espn 360 here )
but they are fightin for every point

Posted by greenhopper 02/24/2010 at 06:46 PM

Forking finally.

Sorry Gakset lovers.

Posted by beth ( YEAHHHH SAINTS!!!) 02/24/2010 at 06:48 PM

and Almagro takes it -
oohh Richard - le sigh

oh well - at least Almagro is a good clay courter and there was a battle out there
now - gotta run

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!/*hitting snooze until Rafa comes back*) 02/24/2010 at 06:48 PM

Oh Drama! Can't believe Nico won that. Congrats to his fans. Commies to beth, Arun, and other Reeshard fans.

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:48 PM

"Even our boy took a little time to recover after Wimby '07 ;-)"
HAHAHAHAHA! Now, i think i've seen it all:)

That's a good start, Pspace, but remember this: ranking is not the important thing, no? Important is to be able to win tournaments:)
After all, in this camp, we arent chasing the GOAT thing. Also, you need to start worrying about the knees:)

Hey, AM, i thought as madame president, you would think that the more Rafa fans, the better. I was even thinking you would be willing to welcome one of the newest Rafa fans, who apparently "identifies" with him:)
SO, know i'm gonna have to share all those demerit cards with Pspace? Not fair.

I dont know if this will work, but for a while, the first time i hit "Post". the post doesnt appear. But if i do it twice, it does, and not as a double post. Dont know if it will help.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:49 PM

Ah dinner menu is set...Muzz-Tipsy, followed by Reeshie-Nico. Good times.

Congrats to Nico fans. Commies to Reeshie fans.

Btw, did any1 watch Cilic-Koubek? I'm curious as to how Koubek plays....stylistically? Was it a good match?

Posted by manuelsantanafan 02/24/2010 at 06:50 PM

Nico, you bad, bad boy.

First, you leer at Missy.

Second, you come back from the grave to beat one of Missy's cutest heartthrobs.

Third, you are constantly thinking of returning to IW so that you can resume your very inappropriate leering.

Bad, bad.

Very bad.

Posted by Mr. X 02/24/2010 at 06:52 PM

I see Almagro overcame his choking tendencies to eventually beat Richard. Sorry, beth and the rest of Gasquet fans.
Good win for Nico, though. He is the 2-times defending champion, but the tournament has a strong draw. I dont know if he will be able to three-peat. With all due respect, unless Richard has seriously improved towards his best level, having so much trouble beating him on Nico's best surface doesnt look too prmising for Almagro.

Posted by Peg 02/24/2010 at 06:52 PM

I think it's a different problem, Mr. X - sometimes when I load the page a captcha form appears, but with no keyword. I'll try Annie's F5 2x tip if it pops up again.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:53 PM

Mr. X, hehe, good points. Ok, let's get those knees healed up, and hopefully, he can have the calm while playing open stance backhand.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:53 PM

Le Sigh indeed.Bad luck Richard

Well Almagro continues to impress me.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 02/24/2010 at 06:55 PM

Pspace At least Rafa is strong enough to play open stance b/hand regardless.

Posted by Pspace (Proud Rafaelite since Shakira) 02/24/2010 at 06:59 PM

AM, yeah, but he was not putting them as deep as he can in Oz. And, he missed too many bhs in important points against Murray. It will take some time. Hopefully, by RG.

Posted by Tfactor 02/24/2010 at 07:00 PM

I see Kubot is up next against Verdasco. I ought to find me a stream (is there any?)

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