Making The Best of It

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It’s been a tough week in Cincinnati. But even organizers weren’t expected it to be this tough.

The combined ATP and WTA event was already dealing with several big names not being in the draw before things got started. That included defending champion Roger Federer who is out for the rest of the season.

Then defending women’s champion Serena Williams, who surprised everyone when she accepted a wildcard into the event, proceeded to withdraw after one practice session on-site. Williams, who continues to deal with shoulder inflammation, now might see Angelique Kerber claim the WTA top ranking if the German wins the title outright.

Adding to the tourney’s woes, mother nature decided to play havoc with the schedule. Torrential rain on Monday and Tuesday cancelled many matches. As I write this, another rain delay is underway.

Away from the courts, the tournament’s parking lot – in this case the lawns of a nearby golf course – quickly turned into a soggy mud field equivalent almost to quicksand. That left many parked cars trapped in the mud. Drivers that thought their cars could maneuver through the mud soon found themselves, as I did, trapped as well. It was only with the help of several volunteers pushing my car that I finally made it out.

If drying courts with squeegees and pushing cars out of muddy fields were Olympic sports, the volunteers in Cincinnati would be medal contenders for the Summer Games in Tokyo next time.

Star names are the draw here in the Midwest. But fans have to hurry to see them before they exit. Rafael Nadal, admitting to being worn out after a week in Rio, barely managed to win four games against Borna Coric in their third round match. Coric himself retired due to injury in his next match to fellow Croatian Marin Cilic.

The women’s event has held up a bit better. In addition to Kerber, several top seeds remain including Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, and Agnieszka Radwanska.

With the US Open Summer Series coming to a close (though the opening event in Stanford felt like months ago) it’s hard to know if the results from this year’s North American hard court swing will matter come time for New York. The Olympics added basically another Major to the season.

Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig and silver medalist Juan Martin del Potro didn’t earn any points but certainly raised their profiles before the US Open. If they translate Olympic success into more in New York remains to be seen. Add in the lack of big names like Serena and Novak Djokovic not playing during the series as well, it ends up being one of those years that only happens every four years.

As I finish this post, a massive rainbow appeared over the stadium with bright sunshine in the distance. A sure reminder to everyone here at the Cincinnati tournament that despite a soggy start, and a rainy middle, a sunny ending including with a new No. 1 player just might be on the horizon.

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Rio. Ready? Or Not.

 

The Summer Games are finally here and how one feels about them is as individual as the 11,000 plus athletes expected to compete in Rio. After a barrage of dire warnings and articles that the Brazilian city was not ready to host the world’s biggest sporting event, and the ongoing Russian doping scandal, and the still ongoing claims of corruption within the International Olympic Committee itself, it’s go time. Ready or not.

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Magic Man

 

It may not have been his greatest victory, but it came pretty close to feeling that way after Roger Federer completed a five-set comeback win to reach the Wimbledon semifinals.

“Whew, a lot happened out there,” Federer summed up accurately after defeating Marin Cilic in their quarterfinal meeting.

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The Big Questions Before Roland Garros.

 

Roland Garros is just days away. With a lot riding for many players heading into the second major of the year, here are some of the big questions still lingering after the European clay court swing. Continue reading

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President Obama Plays Tennis at White House Easter Egg Roll

President Barack Obama and Sloane Stephens

President Barack Obama and Sloane Stephens at White House Easter Egg Roll

The USTA and its charitable entity, the USTA Foundation contributed to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to support the 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll at President’s Park on the South Lawn of the White House.

Honoring the final Easter Egg Roll of the Obama Administration, this year’s theme is “Let’s Celebrate.” This is the seventh consecutive year that the USTA and the USTA Foundation has been involved in the annual event. Celebrating this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll theme, “Let’s Celebrate” the USTA offered families and kids of all ages and skill levels to try tennis in support of the First Lady’s initiative to get kids active.

Current WTA tennis players Sloane Stephens and Shelby Rogers participated in the event along with former ATP player James Blake.

Photo Credit: Jose L. Argueta/USTA

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Opening Moves

In chess, opening moves are often a key to success in winning. That’s especially true if a player employs the queen, the most powerful piece on the board, early in the game.

In the chess game of her career up until a few days ago, few would have disputed that Maria Sharapova was a master tactician. Every decision, especially in her lucrative off-court dealings, appeared planned down to the manicured minutiae of perfect timing for optimum result.

But Sharapova’s most recent first move to date may be the most important of her career.

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Lowlights and Faults: The Worst of Tennis 2015

Despite all the triumphs and highs of this 2015 season, there were certainly plenty of lows and sad moments both on the court and off. Here’s a look back at the less than fun times this year.
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