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Monday, July 7, 2008

A Warm Wimbledon Thanks

Sportswriters frequently "clean out the notebook," at the end of a tournament, and although I wasn't actually at Wimbledon this year, I'm going to do the same.

  • I am forever indebted to Guy McCrea for the fantastic coverage he provided here throughout the second week at Wimbledon. With no power for the second half of the week, I was in no position to write coherent posts about what happened; he made it easy for me and I hope, enlightening for all of you who stopped by to read and listen. When I could, I listened to Guy's Radio Wimbledon coverage, and as I am sure you could tell from his interviews, he knows his junior tennis and does his homework (Contrast the Wimbledon website's junior coverage, which is so riddled with errors that I didn't even bother to read it when I finally had an opportunity to yesterday).

  • Anyone else notice that the no-ad, tiebreak-in-lieu-of-the-third-set format that was adopted for junior Grand Slams, Grade As and Grade 1s by the ITF this year was conspicuously absent from Wimbledon? But the argument for playing conventional doubles (which to me is defined as ending in a third set tiebreaker) is not really strengthened by the fact that both Wimbledon doubles champions had won previous Junior Slams this year under the abbreviated format. What will the USTA decide to do in New York next month? Stay tuned.

  • Wimbledon LIVE, which four ZooTennis readers received free access to courtesy of MediaZone, is fantastic. I wasn't able to get it going until Sunday myself, but, I watched the boys final from start to finish (with the sound turned off and Guy's radio call on instead). I was impressed with the quality of the video (I have a standard cable modem and it streamed very nicely) and most of all, with the variety of matches available. There is much talk that tennis has become a niche sport here in the U.S., and will never have the mainstream interest that other sports do, so webcasting will fill the void that TV networks leave. But the best part of this is not that it's providing tennis coverage, it's providing individualized coverage of THE TENNIS YOU WANT TO SEE. As usual, there was no coverage on NBC of the junior matches, but I did not have to rely on them for it. The price of $24.99 is a bargain when you consider how many different matches that encompasses, and that you are able to download or time-shift them as you please. I'd love to hear what others think, but I'm sold.

  • U.S. junior Bradley Klahn had quite an experience yesterday at Wimbledon--he warmed up five-time champion Roger Federer prior to what is, a day later, being lauded as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. Klahn, a left-hander, and doubles partner Ryan Harrison were still in London after their loss in the doubles quarterfinals Friday due to the cost of changing their plane tickets and a few phone calls between Federer's agent and David DiLucia, the USTA high performance coach, provided Klahn with the opportunity of a lifetime.

  • The British media was beside themselves in having the Laura Robson story to follow this week, but most of the excitement has been tempered by those with memories of the last British girl to win Wimbledon Annabel Croft, who three years after capturing the title in 1984, retired from tennis. Sandra Harwitt points out in this piece for espn.com that in "61 years of junior competition, only three titlists have gone on to win Wimbledon -- Briton Ann Haydon-Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo." On the other hand, should Robson turn out to be merely an Caroline Wozniacki (2006 girls champion) or Agnieszka Radwanska (2005 girls champion), both top 30, I'm not sure there would be grave disappointment. Right now the bar is quite low in British womens tennis, with only one Top 100 player. BBC Sport has this interview with the last British Wimbledon singles champion, Virginia Wade, entitled "Robson Must Be Protected."

  • In almost comical contrast, this was one of the few items devoted to Grigor Dimitrov's boys championship. I'm sure if I could access and read Bulgarian newspapers, there would be more insight available, but we're stuck with brief translations. Here are the transcripts of both Dimitrov's and Robson's news conferences after their victories.

    On Tuesday, I'll review the action in the three Pro Circuit events completed over the weekend.

    Austin said...

    And the British woman in the top100 isnt even a native of the U.K. I watched the last two points of the Robson match in the finals and her interviews afterward. She seems very poised for a 14yr old girl in dealing with the media. I bet all the teenage boys in London were going crazy. I hope they dont go overboard though with an unneccessary amount of media attention. Im guessing agents are hovering all around her now ready to pounce because of her marketing possibilities.

    Colette Lewis said...

    I forgot I was going to note that both Robson and Dimitrov are Octagon clients and have been for some time. But if their deals are up soon, I expect some serious courting by other agencies.

    AndrewD said...


    I think you owe the English girls an apology.

    FYI: Anne Keothavong, the only English female ranked within the top 100, IS most certainly a native of the UK. Born in Hackney, I believe. The player you are, most likely, thinking of is Elena Baltacha. Even so, she's been living in England since she was 6, learned to play tennis in England and is totally a product of the English tennis system.

    AndrewD said...


    Sandra Harwitt forgot about Karen Susman (nee Hantze) who won the junior singles in 1960 (as Hantze)and the senior title in 1962 (as Susman).

    A more interesting observation is that, since 1981, of the 25 winners of the Wimbledon junior girls singles (not counting Robson or the second win for Zvereva and Strnadov√°)only 5 of them failed to make it into the top 50. Of those 5 all managed to gain a ranking inside the top 100.

    Randy said...

    Regarding Wimbledon Live - It should also be noted that you can download matches you weren't able to see to your PC. The quality is better than the streaming video and the licensing won't expire until May of 2009.

    I downloaded well over a dozen matches since I wasn't able to watch hardly any live.

    Jesse said...

    Re: Wimbledon live - I agree, I was pleasantly surprised. I had a few spots where the feed got choppy, but overall it was very smooth and allowed me to watch matches I otherwise wouldn't have seen. Thanks again, Colette!

    Joe said...

    This girl was also 14 when she won a junior grand slam, I'll bet a lot of the "never-made it" girls grandslam champions were 17 and 18 when they won slams. I'd be interested to see what the record of players who win slams that early is. I think Hingis was killing everyone in juniors that young.

    AndrewD said...


    Most all of the players who won the Wimbledon junior girls singles did so after they'd turned 17 years of age. Hingis, like Tracey Austin, was a freak and her success should never be used as a guide.

    La magia - MHZ said...

    I was one of the lucky guys that won a free media zone pass... I'm from Argentina, and for the money change $25 US dollars are $75 of my local money, so otherwia i couldn have take that... the quality was quite good, much more than many atp tournaments.
    Its a shame that none argentinian junior went to wimby, but grass for us is quite difficult. Although that, Rafa Nadal has teached the world that you always can improve yourself.

    Sory for my english. i know it sucks. Seya, and thanks again Colette

    person said...

    Laura Robson is not that good that you can say,. of course she is very good but not something like WOW, you know what i mean?

    i think it will take her a couple of years to suceed in pro tour because i know her personally from a while back and she is still a little girl ..