"To be too certain of anything is the beginning of bigotry." -- Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah

Friday, August 25, 2017

Reading Between the Lines

     I came home last night and did a crossword puzzle to relax. One of the clues was: "Arthur with three Grand Slam titles." Of course I knew the answer: Ashe.

     Arthur Ashe won the U. S. Open in 1968, the Australian Open in 1970 and the Wimbledon Championship in 1975. He died tragically at age 49 in 1993, after contracting AIDS through a blood transfusion he'd received because of a heart condition.

     Now the main stadium at the U. S. Open is named after him. And so you'll soon be able to see on TV the big tennis stars playing at Arthur Ashe stadium in Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY.

A sunny day at the U. S. Open

     The tournament doesn't officially start until Monday. This week features the qualifying rounds, where lower-ranked players vie for a spot in the main show. There are 128 men and 128 women entered. The 16 men and women who win three rounds get to play in the first round of the Open.

     My son and I (he played tennis in college; I played tennis on the playground) have gone to the Open together every year for the past ten years, at least. It's become a kind of tradition for us.

     We like to go to the qualifying rounds, because they're much less crowded than the real event. So yesterday we met up in Flushing Meadows, and instead of standing in line and watching the big names from way back in the stands, we got to view some pretty amazing tennis up close and personal -- although, as you can see, the place is still crowded enough.

If you think this is crowded, wait until next week!

     The cold fact is that the Americans are not as strong as they used to be (think Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chrissy Evert). Now the biggest and best come from Europe (except for the Williams sisters and Serena isn't playing this year because she's pregnant); but think Roger Federer of Switzerland, Rafael Nadal of Spain, Andy Murray of Scotland, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Garbine Muguruza of Spain).

     But there are plenty of Americans in the qualifying rounds.

Louisa Chirico serves

     Not all of them won. The young New Yorker Louisa Chirico (ranked 145) was bested by the veteran Kaia Kanepi from Estonia (ranked 421) by a score of 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Just f.y.i., in this sport, a "veteran" is 32 years old; and "young" means 21.

Bernarda Pera awaits a serve
     Bernarda Pera (ranked 146) was born in Croatia but now plays as an American. She cruised to victory, 6-3, 6-4, over Irina Bara of Romania (ranked 192).

Jamie Loeb disputes a call

     Jamie Loeb, from New York (ranked 156) won a nailbiter, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4, against the Russian Vera Zvonareva (ranked 742), even after a disputed call went against her. If the name Zvonareva sounds familiar, she was once ranked No. 2 in the world and played in the both the Wimbledon and U. S. Open finals in 2010. Now at age 33 she is trying to power through a series of shoulder injuries.

Evan King serves

     Evan King from Chicago (ranked 308) made a comeback -- 3-6, 6-1, 6-0 -- to defeat his Argentinian opponent Renzo Olivo (ranked 112).

Mitchell Krueger blasts an overhead

     And Texan Mitchell Krueger (ranked 198) looked very impressive as, at 7-5, 6-4, he handily beat Egor Gerasimov from Minsk, Belarus (ranked 123).

     Honestly, none of these players will likely make it past the first or second round at the U. S. Open. But they are still fantastic athletes, and so if you ever want to see some great tennis, without the crowds -- or at least with smaller, more manageable crowds -- come up to Queens, NY, in late August. And besides (if you're reading between the lines) you can see that it's a great way to spend a day with your grownup son.


Tabor said...

I just like that women tennis players of any country are finally getting their due attention.

Janette said...

Maybe it belongs on my bucket list...
I grew up playing, starting at age five. I played through college and a few times as an adult. You mentioned those who really inspired me-except Billy Jean King. She was Amazing to watch on TV.
Thanks for the "heads up" on who to watch for in the future.

DJan said...

I'm not a tennis fan, but I sure do like to see good players in any sport. Thanks for the information about these people. I enjoyed it. :-)

stephen Hayes said...

Lately, I've been taking tennis lessons. I'm not a gifted athlete but I do enjoy it.

Olga said...

There used to be a pro tennis event at Station Mtn in VT that I took my kids to. It is definitely fun to watch athletes in action. Have to admire anyone who has reached that level of skill.

retirementreflections said...

Like a few of your other readers, I also have never played or followed tennis. But, my husband was impressed by my sudden wealth of knowledge, about this sport, after reading your post! 😀

Still the Lucky Few said...

I was stung by your comment: "Americans are not as strong as they used to be" Does this mean people are genetically less strong, or just that their lifestyle growing up makes them less strong? If the former is true, if being less strong has actually affected DNA over the past 75 or so years of sedentary living, then we are in trouble. My logic may be way off base though, since it probably takes centuries to effect such a change. Given our life style, however, we are probably headed that way!

Tom said...

I know that I am not as strong as I used to be. It's not the DNA, it's the number of years. But seriously, I only meant that the U. S. is not fielding as many top tennis players compared to the 1970s and '80s -- perhaps in part because ALL the players are bigger and stronger than they used to be. And of course ... Billie Jean King. The tennis center is named after her ... the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.

Barb said...

I have to admit that I am a huge Roger Fan. He just keeps on coming it seems, and from what I can see he still loves to play, win or not. I actually was looking at upcoming movies for the fall season yesterday and apparantly there is a movie about the Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King game that is coming up.

Tom, at your convienience, could you change the url that you have for me on your sidebar from frugaltexasgal.com to richlyretired.blogspot.com? Thank you so very much!

Unknown said...

I will be attending the Connecticut Open today for the double and single finals.

Womens single final is between Cibulkova and Gavrilova. Slovakia vs. Australia

The weather is perfect today to watch the finals. The Connecticut Open in New Haven has been going on for years and only 2 women players were from US.

Here is link if your interested in coming to Connecticut someday. http://www.ctopen.org/

I read somewhere that a lot of kids are not interested in tennis these days which could be why we aren't seeing more US contestants. I am guessing that other sports, especially for women, are more popular like soccer and basketball. Just a guess.

Barbara said...

Arthur Ashe was a great role model. I haven't kept up with tennis in a while and maybe that is because we don't have all the great players we used to. On the other hand, maybe I don't know we do have great players because I haven't kept up with it. Glad you reminded me to keep tennis on my radar.

Anonymous said...

David likes to watch sports on TV. I prefer to read about the outcome in the newspaper.

Jane Gassner said...

Gosh, those glory days of tennis back in the '80s. Was there something special in the American water then? Or has the sport changed in some way? What was it that made us (me) so fanatical about watching the whole tennis, Wimbledon et-al, scene. Is this another arena smothered by the Kardashians?

Ahne SD said...

This is awesome!

To An Athlete Dying Young