So why don’t you… Slide

May 11, 2011

While the US is lamenting the sad state of the first year in just about FOREVER (no really, FOREVER is the word being bandied about) that there are no Americans – male or female – in the tennis top ten, and player development coach Patrick McEnroe (whose book I am currently reading, and let me just say it makes for riveting stuff and you should all grab a copy from Amazon today because it is cheap and fun and tells you things about tennis) is running about getting nervous and everyone is making comments about the future of tennis in this tennis-starved country where fuzzy yellow balls and pretty green courts are the realm of country clubs and college kids who aren’t good enough for track, and Grand Slam finals are cut short by major television networks in favor of other far more obscure sports that involve balls on tables….

Well, while all these shenanigans are happening, the Aussieans have gone – that happened to us already, yes indeed it did, sir! And it won’t happen to us again, no indeed it won’t, sir! (except in Australia no one ever really says sir).

And the lovely folk at Tennis Australia, who I tend to wax lyrical about on occasion despite the fact we haven’t produced a Grand Slam Champion in a year or two or ten (nine, to be precise) have proceeded to try and find ways to make sure that the new crop of kiddies are well and ready to battle the Europeanoid dirt-rat-hard-court-whizz-hybrids who are currently dominating our hearts and our tennis courts… by sending a bunch of kids off to Roland Garros! Yay!

Isn’t it lovely?

There are blogs you can read about it on tennis.com.au and hear all about how the kids went to the supermarket for fruit bars, and heard from a lady who made funny noises, and ate pizza and pasta in Paris and yes! Even learned to SLIDE! ON CLAY! ON CENTRE COURT AT ROLAND GARROS!

That, my friends, can only be a good thing. Go forth, ye young uns! Make friends with Spaniards and Serbs and STEAL WHATEVER IS IN THEIR DRINK.

While the gorgeous Maddison Inglis (whose blog you must read here) has gone to Slovenia to practice her slipping and sliding and being awesomely European, there’s another one of particular adorableness who will be playing in the kiddie version of the juniors event during the actual tournament, the  Longines Future Tennis Aces round-robin, and seriously, 12-year-old Chase Ferguson, I’d like to adopt you.

See you in five years, kid, when the Aussie Open are handing you wildcards and you are poster boy for Court Thirteen.

Pic: Rebecca Hallas

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“Positive Thinking”

April 5, 2011

The lovely people at Tennis Australia decided to provide us with footage of our latest leading lady, my girl Jelena. (Not Novak’s girl Jelena, and not Petko’s bestie JJ. My girl Jelena. You know who I’m talking about).

Keep reading about positive thinking there, Jelena love. We’re already so proud. *tear*. Like a mama, I am.


Allow me to wax lyrical: Jelena

March 11, 2011

Last week after I’d written a long-winded post on my Jelena Dokic love and joy, I found myself at the wrath of WordPress and took it as a sign. No waxing lyrical meant I would post on it tomorrow, when, sure enough, she won the quarters and made the semis. Three days later, all with short posts, she was past the semis, into the final and then – what do you know, I was suddenly granted permission to wax as lyrical as I saw fit.

Turns out it’s not so easy to write purple prose praising a tennis player you’ve admired since your teens when you’re blubbering your guts out. Sometimes it takes a few days to simmer and stew. Jinxage aside, let’s talk about my girl.

She did it, ladies and gents. SHE DID IT.


My girl, Jelena Dokic. First favourite female tennis player. The lady I have supported, followed, cried for, been overjoyed for, and now, done both simultaneously: Jelena. She’s had a nation behind her, and managed to slump, scale heights, and slump again, all in front of our red-raw-applauding hands and wide-open-eyes.

In 2009, L & M were lucky to be present when she made her amazing run to the quarters, beating Kleybs in front of a packed home audience. I was at a work function, but the texts told me everything I needed to know. As a nation, we were behind our girl. She seemed to have finally made it out from behind the plait-wearing-seventeen-year-old, yanked from nation to nation, and the scary man she called father who also lent his name to an Australian comedy show segment.

During her quarterfinal against Dinara, we sat in Garden Square and participated in what is to this day one of my favourite experiences watching tennis at a grand slam. Jelena’s QF was all about every single person in Garden Square, from the Heineken bartenders to the kids playing near the busts of Tennis Australia Walk of Fame peoples – everyone was cheering their guts out. (Granted, we also managed to get ourselves on TV doing so, which was kinda nice.)

Look, she lost the match that night, and that was kinda the end of that brilliant resurgence we saw for a moment. I remember M and I in deep discussion over her ‘rescue’ from Damir into the hands of brother duo Tin and Borna. We talked about how strong she had to be, how amazing to get back and train after all the depression, the injuries, the difficulty, the serious, lets-call-a-spade-a-spade TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY, bizness. She did all that.

She then had to cope with flack as shortly after, in an interview with Sport and Style, she insinuated Damir physically abused her. Suddenly, the scary Serb was back all over Australian newspapers, and this time, we weren’t laughing the way we used to. Back then, it was kinda funny, harmless, he was just a douche and not much we could do about it. Now it was personal.

Threats of bombing the Aussie embassy will get you in serious shit, and that’s what happened to Damir Dokic. He’s out of the picture for now, but lawd knows what kind of turmoil Jelena goes through day to day, having all this seriousness, this intensity, this absolute CRAP THAT LIFE HAS THROWN HER behind her.

But I’m not here to wax lyrical over the shit she’s gone through. (Though I did do just that on Monday morning, when I returned to work buoyed up and inspired, and proceeded to tell all my workmates the above story, in detail.)

Because, you guys, SHE DID IT.

First time in nine years, and Jelena Dokic – that’s her there, kissing a trophy. Winning a title. Raising her arms in triumph. Doing all those things even I, as a fan, never thought I’d see her doing again.

If I recall correctly, there’s a post I did in my first few weeks of blogging, during the AO 2010. M, L and I were witness to her frankly shocking performance against Kleybs on Rod Laver Arena, the first night of the tournament. I remember wondering we can remind this girl, with all the love in the stadium behind her, that she can do it – she can DO IT – while she instead shakes and quakes and forgets how to actually hit that ball.

Now she’s back, and the numbers are oh-so-pretty. First semifinal in forever, first title in forever, first final in forever. Stumbling home at 5am on Saturday night, waking up bleary eyed at 8am to find myself dozing on and off during the match, I was bolt upright and wide awake during the last two games and found myself going – damn, she’s hitting that ball well. That only lasted as long as it took for my eyes to cloud over because darling tennis-loving readers, who I hope to hell only read this because you get me when I tell you – I was a blubbery mess, bawling my eyes out. The few tears that snuck out at match point became serious blubbering, and I was skyping L and showing her my tears and dancing with joy because OUR GIRL DID IT.

She’s Jelena Dokic, guys. She’s my countrywoman, she’s my lady tennis player love, and most importantly: She is my inspiration.

Pics: AP Photo

Where The Wild Things Are

December 24, 2010

The news is out, and it’s good.

Tennis Australia have handed out wildcards to the much-beloved Court 13 favourite, Jelena Dokic, and new USO lover Peter Luczak for the 2011 Australian Open. Both well-deserving after they made the finals of the wildcard playoffs, and also *whispers* great representatives of Australian Tennis.


Fresh Tennis, It Does Exist

December 19, 2010

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.


On The Ball: Asia-Pacific Style

May 6, 2010

Huge thanks goes to the Twitter-ers @TennisAustralia who hooked us up with a video clip of today’s Davis Cup draw in Brisbane. They even tweeted me directly which is much appreciated from one busy lady to another.

As expected, Our Lleyton is number one for the singles, however the surprise comes with the fact that American export and Aussie homeboy Carsten Ball has been named as the other singles player. Fitzy attributes it to Looch nursing a “wrist niggle” but Looch himself reckons he’s “fine now”…. We’ll see what happens if he needs to head out on Sunday to finish off the Japanese!

Either way, it should be great to see Carsten step up to the big time. He’s a tall man, and a lefty, and the best bit – the Japanese have been doing their homework on Looch for the last few months now. Ball’s Papa played for DC way back when so it’s sweet we’re keeping it in the family. It might also teach him a wee bit more about the true blue fair dinkum ways – he’s been hanging with his mates in Cali a fair bit and it’ll be nice to have him involved with the boys in green and gold for a change. That accent needs to go, stat!

Streaming starts at 2pm tomorrow. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!


All the Aussie Ladies (All the Aussie Ladies)

February 7, 2010

Apparently we should be proud of the fact that our Aussie girls are good enough to be in World Group II. At least we don’t completely suck.

Plus we’ve got Alicia and Casey back in the swing of things, and they’re our girls.

And of course Sammy is there, to give them a talking to when needed.

So we gave Alicia a go, cos that’s what we do. First Rod Laver Arena at Prime Time, then she gets switched from doubles with Stubbsy to a real grown up match.

I didn’t watch the match, but looks like we had some struggles from Our Leesh.

“What was I thinking leaving behind the free facials and spangling sequins for this?”

Leesh did tell Hughesy and Kate one morning before the AO that she prefers playing to commentating. Apparently it’s a breeze – get up and have a coffee instead of going to commentate all day. That might be what she’s thinking right about now.

Our Case didn’t fare too much better.

I’m glad Leesh was there to comfort her.

Don’t get me wrong – I love these girls. They’re our girls, in their Target-wearing, Garnier-slopping, Dancing-with-Stars, AO-video-narrating ways.

But of course Sammy came out, guns blazing, superstar that she is.

Girls, she says, I’ve got this one.

So while Sammy rocked it out on court, Case and Skippy had a look and decided that all is not lost for the Aussies after all.

So the ladies had to try for a doubles match.

Lucky we still have the winning team of Sammy and Stubbsy in the cupboard to pull out when the going gets tough. These girls have won 3 titles as a team and a fair few more with their respective doubles partners so it was a good go from the beginning. They won in straight sets, 6-4 6-2.

We like to pretend we’re good at tennis because for so many years we were. The fact we have a (nearly) top 10 ranked player in Sammy and a huge doubles player in Stubbsy means we got past this one, but what will happen next time?

Come on Aussie, Come On!


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