Monday, July 28, 2014

Kastles win fourth straight WTT title

The Washington Kastles won their fourth straight World Team Tennis title over the weekend when they defeated the Springfield Lasers 25-13 in the WTT final, which was held in Springfield, Missouri. Martina Hingis was named the final's Most Valuable Player. The Kastles won all five events--women's singles, men's singles, women's doubles, men's doubles, and mixed doubles.

San Diego Aviators player Daniela Hantuchova won the Female MVP award for the season, and Texas Wild's Anabel Medina Garrigues won the Female Rookie of the Year award.

An especially interesting WTT score is Townsend-1, Huber-0. Because it isn't a match until someone hits Liezel Huber in the face, in the head, or down to the ground. Townsend doesn't have the scary firepower in her forehand to knock down Huber the way Sania Mirza did, but she did manage to hit her partner in the head.

It was an odd series of events. Townsend hadn't planned to play on the WTT tour this year, but she stepped in to play for the Philadelphia Freedoms when Vicky Duval had to withdraw. Last Thursday, Townsend and Huber played doubles against Martina Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova of the Kastles. Townsend hit a crosscourt forehand that landed her racket on Huber's head and Huber had to stop playing.

So Townsend played on, but with no partner. And she wasn't allowed to return serve from what had been Huber's side of the court. This is a WTT rule. If this had happened to anyone, it would have been funny in a bizarre kind of way, but there's something about having it happen to Townsend that especially cracked me up. I think it's because she looks so deadpan about the whole thing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Women Who Serve now available on Twitter

For some time now, I've avoided putting Women Who Serve on Twitter for professional reasons, and also because I didn't want to make my blogging life more complicated. Then it occurred to me that not having a Twitter extension was actually making my blogging life a lot harder. Not only was I leaving myself out of a loop of tennis bloggers and journalists I very much like and respect, I was also spending too much time and energy collecting odds and ends and trying to figure out what to do with them.

Now, you will see fewer of those "odds and ends" on the blog, but you'll find them on the Women Who Serve Twitter page, and they will appear in a more timely fashion.

Occasionally, it seems, I plug my brain in and have a revelation. Please enjoy, and thanks, as always, for reading.

Catalina Castano retires from professional tennis

Charleston, 2006
Columbia's Catalina Costano announced Thursday that she is retiring from professional tennis because she has a diagnosis of breast cancer. Castano is undergoing chemotherapy to treat her illness.

The 35-year-old Colombian player reached her highest ranking, number 35 in the world, in 2006. She is the most decorated player in Colombian Fed Cup history, with the most ties played, the most years played, and the most matches won. She played 50 Fed Cup ties in her career.

"I live day by day because with cancer you never know when everything suddenly ends," Castano said in making the announcement.  "I hope to recover as soon as possible and from there I will see what I'll do. For sure something related to tennis because tennis is my passion."

Svitolina repeats as Baku champion

We don't see titles successfully defended that often, but today, Elina Svitolina was the exception, winning her second Baku Cup title in two years. The 19-year-old from Ukraine defeated Bojana Jovanovski 6-1, 7-6 in the final. Winning the doubles title were Alexandra Panova and Heather Watson upst 3rd seeds Raluca Olaru and Shahar Peer 6-2, 7-6.

Meanwhile, Peng Shuai moved a step closer to winning a "real" WTA title. She defeated Liu Fangszhou 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in today's Nanchang final. The 18-year-old Liu, ranked number 422 in the world when she entered the tournament, has impressed all week. Peng, it should be noted, entered the final following her victory in a three-hour and 22-minute semifinal.

Chuang ChiJung and Junri Nanigata won the doubles championship by defeating Chin-Wei han and Yi-Fan Xu 7-6, 6-3 in the final.

The Zhonghong Jiangxi International Women's Open is a WTA 125K Series event.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sweeping the court

Sloane Stephens has hired Thomas Hosgstedt to be her coach on a trail basis, starting with his appearance at the Citi Open in Washington, DC. Hogstedt, a former coach of Maria Sharapova, also spend some (very little) time coaching Caroline Wozniacki.

Nike has unveiled its new headquarters in Shanghai, which includes the Li Na Building. The nod to China's leading player is part of a tradition Nike has of naming buildings after its star athletes.

You can now get to know Grace Min.

Or, if you happen to live in Romania, thanks to Dedeman and Simona Halep, you can have a great food and house supply shopping experience!

Ajla Tomljanovic will no longer represent Croatia, beginning at the U.S. Open. She will now be playing a representative of Australia.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina has advanced to the semifinals in Baku. Svitolina, the 2nd seed, will next play Francesca Schiavone.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wozniacki and Barthel win tournaments

Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who took a wild card into the Istanbul Cup, won the event today when she defeated 2nd seed Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-1. This is Wozniacki's 22nd WTA singles title, and her first of the 2014 season. The doubles title was won by Misaki Doi and Elena Svitolina. Doi and Svitolina defeated Oksana Kalashnikova and Paula Kania 6-4, 6-0. Both teams were unseeded.

Mona Barthel won her third WTA title in Bastad, also today, when she defeated Chanelle Scheepers 6-3, 7-6 in the final. None of the seeded players made it to the quarterfinals, something that had not happened on the tour for five years. It seems somehow "right" that the mercurial Barthel should win under these circumstances.

Andreja Klepac and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor won the Bastad doubles title, defeating Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith 6-1, 6-1.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sweeping the court

"Normal Petra" thanks everyone for our support, and talks about her sleep problems and her celebrations.

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou says that Serena Williams is in "a difficult phase."

Five of the top ten favorite female athletes in a Harris survey (I'm assuming this means in the U.S.) are tennis players. The number 1 favorite is Serena Williams.

Maria Sharapova has won the 2014 ESPY award for Best Female Tennis Player. This is the fifth time that Sharapova has won the award.

Here is Serena's 2014 U.S. Open dress from Nike.

Doesn't this remind you of some sisters from Ukraine?

Wozniacki reaches quarterfinals in Istanbul

Top seed Caroline Wozniacki reached the quarterfinals in Istanbul yesterday when she defeated Karin Knapp in the second round. Perhaps of more interest, however, was Wozniacki's first round match against Beleinda Bencic, which she won 6-0, 6-0. Sometimes, being a teen phenom is difficult, but if you happen to be one and you're looking for perspective, then you might get what you need.

Sometimes, if you're the top seed, you can get a surprise, too. Alize Cornet, seeded 1st in Bastad, went out in straight sets in the first round to qualifier Anett Kontaveit. Cornet was given a wild card into the event, but everything was over quickly for her.

2nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova went out in the first round, too--to Grace Min, who beat her 6-0, 6-4. 3rd seed Camila Giorgi followed the other two out in the opening round, losing to qualifier Gabriela Dabrowski. Oh, and the 4th and 5th seeds--Yaroslava Shvedova and Anna Schmiedlova--lost in the first round, too.

But--Jana Cepelova is still in the tournament! Cepelova, until this week, had not been able to string two wins together since her run to the final in Charleston, which included the defeats of Serena Williams and Belinda Bencic (in the best match of the tournament). But Cepelova has reached the quarterfinals, which has to be a relief.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sweeping the court

Police have arrested a man who made threats toward Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. Apparently, he was angry about Kvitova and others who move out of the country (Kvitova lives in Monaco) in order to avoid Czech Republic taxes.

Lindsay Davenport has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Davenport, who won three majors (the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open) has long been considered one of the best ball-strikers in the history of women's tennis. The former world number 1 (in singles and doubles) was also the winner of an Olympic gold medal. Davenport won 55 singles titles and 38 doubles titles, and was a member of the U.S. Fed Cup team for several years. She has a career singles record of 753-194. Davenport now works as a commentator for Tennis Channel.

The winners of the WTA Finals, which will now feature eight doubles teams--at long last--will receive the newly named Martina Navratilova Doubles Trophy.

If you play tennis, it's nice to be Czech.

Actor Ellen Page has puchased Venus Williams' house in Hollywood Hills.

Redfoo talks, sadly, about life without Vika.

Halep and Petkovic win Bucharest and Bad Gastein

Top seed Simona Halep won the inaugural Bucharest Open today when she defeated Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3. This is Halep's second title for the year; she also won in Doha. The Romanian star is now just eleven points behind leader Maria Sharapova on the Road To Singapore.

Wild cards Elena Bogdan and Alexandra Cadantu won the doubles title. The Romanian pair won the final by defeating Cagla Bayukakcay and Andreja Klepac.

Meanwhile, in Bad Gastein, 4th seed Andrea Petkovic also picked up her second title of the year, defeating qualifier Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-3. The doubles title was taken by 2nd seeds Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova, who defeated 5th seeds Andre Jaklepac and Maria-Teresa Torre-Flor 4-6, 6-3, 10-6.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sweeping the court

Petra Kvitova can help you develop a better serve.

But she can't help you become a celebrity.

The U.S. Open is increasing its prize money by $4 million since 2013.

Maria Sharapova leads the rest of the tour on the Road To Singapore.

Steve Tignor suggests that some Wimbledon traditions be broken.

Ana Ivanovic and  Nemanja Kontic have parted ways. Ivanovic is expected to name a new coach for the upcoming hard court season.