Fresh Tennis, It Does Exist


I lied.

At the end of my last post, I was all “no more tennis until next season”, boo hoo, but I will admit, hand on my heart, that I lied.

Sure, the days of poring over pictures from glam player parties, skimming endless postmatch pressers and waking up on Sunday mornings, half hung over, trying to catch a final are over. But what what what has been happening in my spiritual home this week?

None other than the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, which can mean only one thing: January is in the air.

Less than thirty days off, and I can already smell the sunscreen and the chiko rolls. Richmond station is lying open in wait and the blue signs are already going up all over town. Hughesy and Kate are in on the action and I can bet you the ads are already up all over Aussie radio.

I’m freezing away in Brooklyn but in Melbourne the sun is shining. Australia’s brightest and best have convened on Melbourne Park, and the Wildcard Playoff is underway.

All of our faves were there and I’d like to give a shoutout to the lovely Ronnie, tennis buddy extraordinaire, who made his way down to watch our girls and boys in play.

Kudos as well to the fabulous people at Tennis Australia, who streamed (and are still streaming!) the whole shebang online for those of us who couldn’t bask in the sunshine, hail and thunder and check out real! live! tennis that matters! even during the off-season.

For those of you who didn’t watch, here’s a little bit of what happened:

– The boys played a 24 strong tournament.
Bernie didn’t play. People are upset about that, just like they’re upset about everything he does.
– We had lots of familiar faces. For those of you who like to haunt the outer courts during the AO, cheering for any wildcarded Aussie dubs team or junior in sight, some of these names will be familiar to you. I’m looking at you, Sean Berman.
Challenger fans wet their pants with excitement. Tennis that matters, with challenger-level players? Pass me the smelling salts. My Twitter feed has given me hope in the human race outside the top 100.
– Biggest upset: Carsten Ball. He’s on our Davis Cup team, but looks like all the other young ‘uns are also hungry and hitting big. I’m focusing on the positive here: Nice big talent pool we have?
– Most of the top seeds made it through, reminding me that yes, this is men’s tennis after all. Welcome to the final, Marinko Matosevic and Pete Luczak. Looch reminding me that yes, it was worthwhile for me to stand out in the hot hot heat cheering him on back in Flushing Meadows. Because seriously, the man plays mean tennis. And Marinko giving us hope for a generation.

Next, on the ladies side:
– The ladies played a round robin that for those of you who struggle at the YECs and WTFs, forget it. I struggled on this one, but I can tell you this:
– It’s refreshing having the ‘hover-at-the-edges-of-the-top-hundy-for-most-of-this-year‘ girls aka Anastasia Rodionova and Jarmila Groth well ensconced in automatic entry territory. It’s given a chance to the other girls to come through and get a chance at the wildcard, including hover-at-the-edges-of-the-top-hundy-at-year-end girls Alicia “Alicia Alicia Alicia, Alicia Alicia” Molik and Jelena “Why do I love you so much” Dokic. Comeback Queens, apparently.
– The semis were a ripper lineup, with Roland Garros Qualifier Queen Sophie Ferguson up against Dinara-Scarer Olivia Rogowska; and abovementioned Our Leesh and Our Jelena battling it out.
– Congrats to Olivia and Jelena for making the finals, and now, let us switch on the livestream and see how it all pans out.
– Aussie Aussie Aussie! Nuff said.

Bring on January.

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